I wrote these posts a while back but for whatever reason did not post them. Wanted to get it out before it's too late!
Every now and then you get to burn something in Chemistry class
The learner's here in SA have national exams every three years after they start school, in other words in the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 12th grade. Every Friday I have been going to middle school to help the Natural Science class review and prepare for their upcoming test. I feel it gives me a break from the primary schools in that I know the science they need and I present it at a pace I am comfortable with. My problem with teaching the elementary science is that I just don't know what an appropriate level of depth for any one topic is. Any shortcut I am afraid will seriously affect later understanding. I think it is generally correct that you learn about a subject long enough and you start to have to unlearn a lot of what you have already been told to make a more accurate picture. I think this is all too much for 5th grade, and probably way too pedantic overall. They have trouble enough understanding my English anyway.So when I go to the middle school I have a little more elbow room. I can be a little more abstract. They also have the more dangerous chemicals there.
Today was my last Friday before their exam so I thought I would try to do a demonstration. I rifled through my books to find something that I could do easily and would be worthwhile. I decided on making napalm and then putting it out with firefighting foam. Very simple overall and I could tie it in with what they were learning.
I thought it went pretty well. No one was injured and it went according to plan. It was a little outside the rules of normal chemical safety but we don't really have the proper equipment for such things out here and they NEEDED to see the napalm. As a side note that stuff is absolutely wicked.
Traveler of Mostly Time and Little Space
I went to get my food today which will last me another couple weeks. It was not a simple procedure. As I mentioned any travel is an undertaking so plenty of time needs to be set aside for the task. Today proved this point more than ever.Normally the journey isn't quite as bad as the one in this story but I never really look forward to it. I only go because my stupid body needs food to survive.
I live 10 km from the next town which is where the main group of taxis gather to travel to the next biggest town. We will call my town K, the next bigger town T and the biggest town G. So I take a taxi (or walk) 10 km to T, then need to take a taxi another 22 km for my shopping in G, 32 km total.
I went to the road in my village where I can get a ride to the next biggest town (T) at 12:30. It was there that I waited until 1:00 to ride, phase one accomplished. I then set-up shop at the next stop waiting for my next ride to G. This ride did not come until 2:00, I got a good chunk of the way through the Atlantic (thanks Sarah). After the short trip, It was a joy to enter the grocery store. My food stores had run low, for dinner the previous night I had a packet of tuna and a cup of coffee. So I planned stocking up in good fashion today. Lots of soup, lots of vegetables, and lots of eggs. Happy with my purchase I headed back to the taxis to head home.
It was now 3:00 and I was tired and hungry. It was a long week and I just wanted to eat my food and relax. It is extraordinarily exhausting to ignore people constantly staring at you, and I had my weeks fill. The taxi back to T was there waiting but was mostly empty. The whole taxi system in general deserves a whole post but I will just say the taxis don't go until they are full. This wait took until 4:00. We were payed up and we departed.
This particular taxi ride was stuffed to maximum capacity, although they usually are. Everything I had was on my lap and between my legs. As it was with every other passenger on the taxi, 14 in all. Sometimes I deal with these situations pretty stoically sometimes I have difficulty keeping good humor. In any case it takes concentration to fore go my defense system when people breech my cherished bubble space. The ride back from town is always longer since several people get dropped off close to their homes. The progress was slow but I finally made it back to T.
Since the journey up to that time had taken so long it had diminished my chances of getting a ride back to my village, K, the taxis become scarcer the later it gets. So I posted in some shade waiting for my ride because I had too much food to carry back. So I waited and hour and then finally got a ride on a donkey cart to a crossroads a little closer to my village. I have wanted to ride on one since arriving in SA and it made up for the awful experience of traveling so far. At the crossroad I waited some more, read some more, started considering how long it would take me to carry everything back with frequent breaks. Finally a taxi came by to take me home. Arriving at my doorstep at 6:30 this journey of 64 km to the grocery store and back took about 6 hours. Food was good though.