What is TASTE?

We are a charity aiming to transform science education in rural Uganda by giving students the chance to perform experiments in lessons.

On this site you can find out why this is important, and how our mobile teaching laboratory will help to improve the situation.

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Biochemistry, Brains and Baganda

biochem2
The Biochemical Society is a learned society that brings biochemists together to foster collaboration. Education is a major part of the society’s mission and it has been a significant supporter of TASTE, contributing towards our initial costs last year, and recently confirming a grant to help us run the programme for longer.

Students attending the A* Masterclass. Photo credit: Jane Thomson

Students attending the A* Masterclass. Photo credit: Jane Thomson

But the society’s support for science education in Uganda goes beyond simply making grants, it also runs the A* Science Club scheme, designed to provide an outlet for enthusiastic students’ scientific passions.

We were fortunate to be able to help out at one of their “A* Masterclasses” earlier this year, run by Dr. Nick Dixon and Jane Thomson. The subject? Neuroscience and the brain.

Students see what a real (goat) brain looks like

Students got the chance to look at an actual (goat) brain

It featured a talk from Professor Sadiq Yusuf, who teaches the neurogenetics of Drosophila at Kampala University, as well as many hands-on activities designed to get students thinking about how our brains really work.

We could tell that students really enjoyed the day of science, and that these science clubs are making an important contribution to science education in Uganda. We hope to be able to continue to collaborate with this exciting program. You can read more about the day over on the BiochemSoc Blog, and some more background to the project in this article.

Today, we have a guest post with the Biochemical Society describing some of our work so far and the challenges we face. Have a look!

Celebrating International Women’s Day with ScienceGrrl

On 8th March, in honour of International Women’s Day, TASTE held seminars in Lwengo district to inspire girls to believe that they could succeed in science-based careers. Gender stereotyping can be a real problem in Ugandan education, so it was really important to demonstrate that there are women around the world succeeding in science.


Our treasurer, Dr. Elizabeth Kyewalabye, was one of the first female Ugandans to qualify as a vet and she was a shining role-model as she spoke to students about her career. We were also able to show students the extraordinary women of the ScienceGrrl calendar, which shows the real and varied faces of women in science.

We have a guest post over on the ScienceGrrl blog, where you can find out how students reacted.

…read more at ScienceGrrl.

The first week of mobile science

Lina Munro is a trustee for TASTE UK. She is volunteering in Uganda from January-March 2013 to help with the process of establishing the mobile lab. She recently sent this update about the first week of the mobile lab’s operations in Lwengo District, which reaches the blog slightly late due to an intermittent internet connection.

Hello from Uganda!

I’m very excited to be announcing that last week, TASTE formally began its operation of teaching practical science in rural Uganda. It is a week since Amy last blogged about TASTE, and we have now taught 30 hours of hands-on science over 3 days. Before this mini science marathon, Amy and I spent most of Monday buying 2 million shillings worth (about £500) of science equipment and chemicals from our initial supplier in Masaka. The supplier’s store was not unlike the wand shop from Harry Potter: it was dark and cramped, and there was an inexplicable way of ordering chemicals involving various iterations of copying out order prices before finally adding up on the final receipt. When we were finished, it was extremely satisfying to see the once-empty truck loaded with things that screamed ‘science!’ We were looking forward to using them with the students and we started testing out the planned practical lessons.

The school at which we taught the first lessons … read more ›

An update from Mbiriizi

Amy Buchanan-HughesAmy Buchanan-Hughes, a member of TASTE staff who is currently in Uganda helping to set up the mobile laboratory, has described progress so far. The Ugandan school term begins on 4th February, and TASTE has met with headteachers and organised its first lessons in preparation for this, as Amy describes.

 

After nearly 18 months of preparation, planning and fundraising, TASTE is finally getting close to full operation! Lina and I have now been in Uganda for nearly four weeks getting everything set up. Here’s a selection of what we’ve been up to:

TASTE’s central feature is the mobile science lab, so our first priority when we arrived was to buy a suitable van. The Toyota Hiace is used ubiquitously in Uganda for public transport, which made it a sensible choice for us – we know that they are reliable even on the more ‘interesting’ roads, and spare parts will be easy to find if we need them. And so, by late afternoon on our second day in Uganda, we were the proud owners of the African Science TRUCK!

We were informed that we had to wait to get licence plates, which would be ready by Saturday. On Saturday, we were told Monday, and on Monday they insisted that they could not *possibly* have said Saturday because the earliest they could be ready is Tuesday.
… read more ›