Our Mobile Science Lab was started in 2017. The heart behind the lab was to give lab time to O-Level students who are not able to put their theoretical knowledge into practice due to lack of resources at their schools. The Lab is a 20-foot shipping container, converted into a fully kitted out laboratory. Winston Churchill said ‘To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often’, We have definitely seen a few changes over the years at the lab for various reasons, one of them being Covid-19. It’s fair to say we are still finding our feet post Covid and implementing new ideas so we keep improving in what we do. Last year we said goodbye to two fantastic teachers, Tongai and Stuart, who were there at the inception of our lab. And we said hello to two new teachers, Nyasha and Shawn. Both are past Makomborero A-Level scholarship recipients and we thought you could get to know them! They were good enough to answer a few questions for us – even the really silly ones!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
NYASHA: Hi there! I’m Nyasha. I’m the last born in a family of two, currently in my fourth year of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe. I prefer my own company over crowded social situations and I’m very passionate about making the world better than it is.
SHAWN: My name is Shawn T Ndebvudzemene. I’m 22 years old and I have 2 older brothers and a younger sister. I am currently studying Biomedical Sciences with intentions of pursuing a degree in Medicine at the University of Zimbabwe under the Makomborero Zimbabwe Grant scheme.
What inspired you to be a mobile science lab teacher?
NYASHA: My background. Where I did my secondary school there were limited resources for education, especially in the science field. So to have an opportunity to share knowledge with students that are in the same shoes as I was is fulfilling. It is good to show them that there is more out there than scarcity of resources. Seeing students changing their perspective about life is one of my greatest inspirations. In short it’s giving HOPE to others that drives me the most to be a Mobile Science Lab teacher.
SHAWN: I have always had a passion for Life Sciences and Biology so teaching at the lab means I am doing what I love and giving something back to the next generation. An opportunity that put these two together was so appealing to me – it seemed like a perfect fit!
How have you found the first few months of teaching in the lab?
NYASHA: Life changing! Because of the love and passion that the team I work with show, there is a sense of belonging. Little things like the grins on students’ faces when a bulb lights up during an electricity experiment or the smiles on their faces whenever a chemical changes the nature of a biological cell make it all worthwhile. I feel at home!
SHAWN: Teaching at the Mobile Science Lab has been a wonderful experience. I enjoy every step of the process working with Nyasha as we set up, teach and close the lab on Saturdays and thanks to Nyasha I was able to get into the swing of things much faster in order to capture the true essence of what we do.
What’s your favourite part about being a Mobile Lab teacher?
NYASHA: The students – it’s amazing when they start to appreciate science better.
SHAWN: I’m enjoying working with the students, watching over them as they experience Biology practicals and watching them grow to love the subject as much as I do. It truly is a pleasure watching them grow in the fun learning environment we try to create each week.
What was the naughtiest thing you ever did when you were a Makomborero A-Level student?
NYASHA: I pretended to be sick in order to skip school. I spent the whole day watching movies.
SHAWN: Now that’s a hard one! I’d have to say the time I was late to a meeting with Mrs Chikowore by over an hour. She had to drive all the way back to see me once I had arrived which I’m grateful for.
What’s your favourite meal?
NYASHA: Sadza and roasted fish.
SHAWN: My favorite meal would be either rice or pasta but served with banana and baked beans salad which holds so many memories for me.
How do you like spending your spare time?
NYASHA: Watching Sci-fi movies.
SHAWN: In my spare time I like to watch movies, play racing games and hang out with friends.
What’s your dream for the future of the Mobile Science Lab?
NYASHA: The lab to accommodate more students and for us to do tours and fairs.
SHAWN: The future of the Mobile Science Lab for me involves more sessions, adding more practicals into the rotation as well as working with more schools.
What would you say to encourage students to be part of the Mobile Science Lab?
NYASHA: It’s a rare opportunity that is life changing. Besides boosting one’s confidence and grades, it also optimises one’s creative mind especially in problem solving which is key for the future of humanity.
SHAWN: It’s a rare experience to encounter the concepts they can only theorize and imagine in our underprivileged schools. It provides a hands on experience to learn to do it yourself and that in itself helps foster understanding and something I live by is to take any and all opportunities to better yourself.
Pet snake or pet crocodile?
SHAWN: Pet snake or pet crocodile is a hard one since they are all cold blooded reptiles but if push comes to shove I will choose a pet crocodile.
Michael Jackson or Celine Dion?
NYASHA: Celine Dion.
SHAWN: I’ve always liked both of the artists especially Michael Jackson. Growing up, Smooth Criminal was one of my favorite songs and the video was always interesting each time I watched it.
Holy 10 (Zimbabwean Hip Hop artist) or Hillzy (Zimbabwean R&B artist)?
NYASHA: Holy 10.
SHAWN: I’m a huge fan of Holy 10 all the way.
Despite their slightly dodgy food choices, Nyasha and Shawn are a treasured part of the Mobile Science Lab team. Within minutes in their presence they are either making you smile or making you laugh! We look forward to many more years of their hard work and infectious characters at the Makomborero Zimbabwe Mobile Science Lab.