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Thursday, September 6, 2012

New software to enhance science education

Local schools no longer have to struggle to recruit experienced science teachers to explain to students how temperature, humidity, electricity, sound are measured following the introduction of a software that enables them to perform the experiments with ease.

The MultiLab data analysis software is connected to 65 censors and is built in NOVA5000, a portable data device.

NOVA5000 is connected to computers with a wide range of functions that allows them to perform hundreds of scientific experiments in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.

The equipment has a touch screen and ability to collect data from up to eight sensors simultaneously. It has extensive library of science workbooks and curriculum support.

The software that was showcased yesterday at the ongoing international conference on technology in education in Kigali was developed by Fourier Systems Limited, an IT company based in Israel that operates in 50 countries.

The three-day conference under the theme: “Enhancing learning through technology”, aims at engaging experts to discuss and exchange information to enhance education using the power of ICT.

Speaking to The New Times at the sidelines of the meeting, Shaul Hatzir, Managing Director of Genesis, a sister company to Fourier Systems, said the science learning software enables students to measure temperature, humidity, sound level and light among others  using their computers.

“The software is currently used in about 50 countries where we operate from. We are planning to launch a pilot project of this software in schools in Rwanda, most specifically those that are equipped with computers,” he said.

“We want to work with One Laptop per Child (OLPC) enabled schools. Our programme is currently designed along the Rwandan curriculum.”

Hatzir said students have often struggled to gain practical scientific knowledge through experiments in laboratories.

“Whether in the laboratory or in the field, our software ensures that students enjoy and experience science lessons and it applies to primary schools, high schools and universities or tertiary institutions.”

The use of ICT in schools today has made life easier. Students conduct research online and get in touch with the best teachers, which was not the case 20 years ago.

Opening the conference, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, said the use of ICT in education provides learners and teachers with new tools and concepts to create their own learning environment. 
“Such technologies enable learners to think critically and be innovative,” said the Premier.

“As our country strives to become a knowledge-based economy, this calls for greater investment in the human resource base and infrastructure. The goal is to link to the rest of the world in terms of economic, educational and other opportunities”.

Habumuremyi emphasised that as Rwanda celebrates achievements in the education sector, much is needed to ensure that the access is marched with good quality education to meet the demands of the international labour market.

Last week, Rwanda won the Commonwealth Education Good Practices award for promotion of the Nine-Year Basic Education (9-YBE), that is universal.

In his remarks, the Minister of Education, Vincent Biruta, said: “As the world continues to become a global village, ICT enables us to connect with the best minds, best library resources which is very important towards achieving quality education.”

The forum brought together government officials, academics from the region and beyond, students, among others. 

Students from OLPC enabled schools in Kigali also showcased how they study using their devices.

“We have learnt a lot using these laptops. We know how to use “Scratch” software application to create interactive stories,” explained Teta Davine, a Primary Five pupil at Apapec Iribero School.

Scratch application allows students to explore and experiment using computer software to create animations and interactive stories through a simple graphic interface.

The New Times

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