Monday, September 2, 2013

New Classroom!

I'm teaching Kindergarten and 1st grade this year and today was the first day! It was nerve-wracking and fun, all at the same time. Here are the before and after pictures of my new jungle-safari classroom!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fundraising 2013!

Embarking on a project this summer of fundraising for the next school year! I am here in California for the summer, but only for about 7 weeks, and then I head back to Tanzania to teach again!

Look to the page on the right side of the blog called "Support Megan!" if you're interested in giving toward the school year of 2013-2014.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Solar Ovens

I am proud of my 5th and 6th graders and their hard work on our Solar Energy project. Obviously in this part of Africa, the equatorial sun is rather powerful, so a study in this topic is fitting.  If solar energy could be used more effectively in Africa, it could drastically change the lives of the people here.

Lining everything with foil

After doing research papers on various aspects of solar energy such as solar cars or the cost of solar equipment, it was time to put the sun to the test. We turned recycled pizza boxes into working solar ovens, and set off to cook some s'mores. 

It turns out that in direct sunlight, the solar ovens can get pretty hot! Now we were a little limited; we had to use plastic wrap instead of glass on the window, but even still, within 20 minutes, the oven was at 170 degrees fahrenheit (63 degrees celsius). Definitely hot enough to melt a little marshmallow and chocolate.  Love it when the experiments actually work, and I don't have to tell the kids "It's ok! All scientists have failures!" =)


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Favorite Zanzibar Shots

At the beginning of April, I had the opportunity to go to Zanzibar, the small island off the coast of Tanzania. There's a new airline in the area that offers flights there for only about $20 each way, so we jumped at the chance. Despite lots of things going wrong, we had a great time, and these are a few of my favorite shots of the weekend.

The first night's sunset, from Stone Town

The bungalows where we stayed (Baraka Aquarium Bungalows) had turtles in their salt water cove!

On the beach in Nungwi (a village on the northern tip of the island)

Some local girls wading

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

For a fan of all delicious dairy products like myself, Moshi is sorely lacking in this department. The local cheese is expensive, even by Western standards, and it is pretty poor quality. I mean, it's cheese, so I'm not going to really complain, but it's no Tillamook cheddar.  Then there's the yogurt! For a little container it's 3000 shillings ($2), which makes it not a popular food for locals (too expensive), and not a very cost-effective treat for us either. 

So when I found out you can make yogurt with some simple steps, I was pretty excited. This kind of kitchen challenge is always fun for me to try, even if I fail. I am definitely coming back in August with many more cheese-making tools. Homemade mozzarella? Yes, please. Anyway, back to yogurt!

Milk is not really popular here (not many families have a refrigerator to store it, plus it's so hot here, and it's a little pricey for most people), but there is a sweet bibi (grandma) who sells it raw from her cows pretty cheaply, on the side of the road, every morning until about 10am. Since we're at school during the week, we take a quick trip to town to get some milk early in the morning, before we head off to teach. It's kind of funny getting milk - you feel a bit like you're making some kind of illegal deal in an alleyway. You pull up to this small street, pull out your own container, and hand over the cash for the milk.
2 liters for 2000 shillings ($1.30)
(PS - as always, the locals were cracking up at me taking a picture of milk)

We pasteurize this, strain it, and skim the cream off the top (this is VERY whole milk) in order to make it drinkable, and it is ready to go! I know I could drink it raw, but I'm not that brave. Also, after growing up drinking store-bought milk, it is quite an adjustment to whole, fresh milk - the taste is pretty different!

It turns out that all you need to do to make yogurt is:
1) Heat the milk to 185 degrees
2) Cool it to 100 degrees
3) Stir in 2 tablespoons already prepared yogurt
4) Keep wam at 100 degrees for 6-20 hours

Now there are all these clever ideas online on how to keep it warm -- put it in a picnic cooler, stick an electric heating pad under the pan, put it in a hot car -- well, none of these work for me here because I don't have them, not even the hot car because now it's the cooler rainy season.  So I did a water bath in the oven with the oven barely on, for about 7 hours.

Here's the milk cooling!
And after all those hours in the oven, and a night chilling in the fridge, I had yogurt!! I felt like a superwoman! Who knew it was so easy? Time-consuming, but easy! In the end, I made 2 quarts of yogurt for 2000 TSH, not too bad.  Definitely a project that I'll do regularly, to get my yogurt fix.

Final product!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Catapults with 1st/2nd Grade

More creative uses of things we have for crafts here in Tanzania! The kids loved this one, though I had to keep telling them they were finger catapults because they were putting their full weight on them and snapping the springs out of the clothespins. Ah good times, trying to change the behavior of 6 and 7 year olds! Anyway, once they got that memo, it was much better. We found some little seeds outside and catapulted the class time away. 
Decorating the pieces - popsicle sticks, blocks of wood, clothespins, bottle caps

Finished products, hot glued together! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Dust!

The dry season has been upon us for a few months now, and we are FINALLY starting to get some rain around here. Without the rain, every minute of every day involves dust! The dirt roads are at their driest, and we pretty much breathe dust as we drive, as we walk, as we teach. I won’t even talk about my feet at the end of the day. Let’s just say I understand the sacrifice of Jesus washing his disciples' feet a lot better. Anyway, my poor little white laptop has been under a dust attack.  It reminds me of being in college, and seeing the art majors doggedly scrub their white laptops to keep them free of paint, clay, charcoal, etc. It was always a losing battle.

It's the little things in life - I know this because when I got a magic eraser in a package from my parents, the first thing I wanted to do was clean my computer. And then I took pictures. So yeah, I'm easily entertained these days.  But LOOK!!!  Though this may only last a couple weeks before my laptop is disgusting again, I'm happy.