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EiE in Tanzania: Meet Ina Heafitz and the Hope Girls and Boys School in Arusha, Tanzania!

Posted by EiE Team on Thursday, April 29, 2021

In partnership with Ina Heafitz, we are thrilled to announce that EiE professional development and STEM classroom resources are being used to support the teachers and students of Hope Girls and Boys School in Arusha, Tanzania.

And we’re proud to introduce you to Ina Heafitz, one of the brilliant minds and generous donors behind this incredible international collaboration. After 34 years as a high school math and computer teacher, Ina brought her expertise to the board of Friends of Meali International and to the Museum of Science, Boston. 

For the last four decades, Ina has been a delighted visitor of the Museum of Science, Boston where she and her family would visit on Saturday mornings. Her son was most excited to complete classes with museum educators. Ina became involved with the Museum of Science in 2002 as an advisor and currently serves as an Advisor Emerita.

While Tanzanian schools are government-supported, funding is limited and resources can be scarce, especially in more rural areas of the East African country. Friends of Meali International focuses on building partnerships with the schools and the community to fund extra resources they need for students to be successful. 

“We, at Friends of Meali International, support three rural schools in Tanzania. Our support is directed by their needs. This has included latrines, classrooms, teacher housing, water tanks, classroom materials and computers, extra teachers, and support for graduating students.”

Ina in TZ

Ina Heafitz being offered gratitude after a graduation ceremony in Friends of Meali International support school.

Hope Girls and Boys School, a private school in Arusha, Tanzania, was founded in 2018 by Lucas Mhina, the owner of Carnivor Safaris and Director of Friends of Meali International, Tanzania. Since its founding, the school has started classes for Kindergarten through 1st grade and serves about 170 students. Lucas, with the help of his Director Anna Mhina, are looking to introduce a more learner-centered, inquiry-based school culture. Once established, Hope Girls and Boys School will help spread this pedagogy to the three rural, government schools assisted by Friends of Meali International.

When choosing the curricula and professional development resources to share with Hope Girls and Boys School, Ina wanted to be sure she could trust it was a quality recommendation, as a member of the school’s Board. “I was drawn to the Museum’s educational content, and I definitely like the EiE program. EiE’s curricula is not just about giving the students a project, it opens their minds and fosters curiosity. Like the Italian proverb says, GIVE A MAN a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for his lifetime. We are teaching students life skills and nurturing creativity within the community.”

Two key factors of the EiE curriculum that attracted Ina were the Engineering Design Process and the real-world, hands-on approach to integrating science and other subject areas through STEM. When learners embrace design thinking, they identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, plan and create their ideas, and iterate to improve their designs. This mindset allows learners to understand things are not just right or wrong, and that more can be learned through failure. While engaging in the engineering design process, learners begin to identify design challenges beyond the classroom walls. “This program works internationally because students are learning how to solve problems and design; but not just in the abstract, they are using concrete, globally relevant examples. The teachers would not have to adapt the lesson content and students can see themselves in the classroom videos and engineering storybooks. Things that are different are interesting, celebrated, and educational!” 

With Ina’s support, we are bringing the EiE engineering program to the Hope Girls and Boys School in Arusha, Tanzania. In our next EiE in Tanzania post, we’ll take you to the Hope Girls and Boys School to see how we have adapted our professional development resources for international support.

And, to see more from Ina Heafitz, Friends of Meali International, the Hope Girls and Boys School in Arusha and other #eieinspired STEM journeys, check out @EiE_org on Twitter!

Written by EiE Team

Topics: Profiles, Implementing EiE, Engineering in Elementary STEM Education, STEM Implementation, EiE Ambassador

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