Oysters & Pearls is a hands-on teaching program. We find the best and brightest teachers to be part of our team and this always means the most enthusiastic. As you will discover below, we have many programs to engage our students, both blind and sighted.

Demonstration Teaching

Students Making Covers for their Journals

Demonstration Teaching is an educational system of teaching by demonstration and experiments, bringing the student directly into the lesson. Seeing a lesson as a demonstration is known to more firmly implant the subject matter in a student’s memory than just reading words in a book or hearing a lecture. However, for our program, Demonstration Teaching has a wider objective, as we are demonstrating techniques and tips that are inclusive of the visually impaired and blind students in a majority-sighted classroom.

Exploration 2012

Due to the success of last year’s class, we had no trouble finding students to fill the 50 spots for Exploration 2012. This year’s program included painting, drawing, and sculpting with clay, all taught by Amy Rothenberg, an artist/photographer from Northern California. T.J. Alcala, an aspiring math teacher and accomplished musician, guided many of the classes, closing each day’s lesson with singing.

It was important to us that the students gain an in-depth understanding of Ugandan wildlife as we planned to take 16 of them (8 sighted and 8 blind) on a field trip to Murchison Falls National Park. We called it a Sensory Safari because our students used all of their senses to observe the animals. In rapt attention and with absolute silence, they took in the sun-drenched smells carried on the warm breezes, the low grumbling of elephants, the soft roar of a juvenile lion, and the rustle of grasses being parted by a herd of startled antelope. Janet, our Ranger Guide filled in the details – the habits of hippos, the color and texture of elephants, and the immense weight of a full-grown male elephant.

In the evening, seated around a bonfire, the students shared their individual adventures and experiences. One young man opened with, “Today I spiritually saw an elephant.” There were some laughs, but everyone knew what he meant. The phrase eloquently captured the event.

Returning to school after the trip, we had a few more weeks of wonderful instruction with participation of all the students by way of presentations, debates, art, and music projects.

One visually impaired student achieved top scores on his O-level exams because of the math tutoring by T.J. In addition, our student was mentioned on all the local radio stations, which is highly unusual.

Professor Marilyn Bland provided individual instruction in English and Reading. Amory Weld and Sandra Washburn provided logistics and administration.


Teaching in an Integrated Classroom – Teaching Certification Program 2011

In partnership with Unyama National Teachers College (NTC), and Gulu High School, a 5-week certification program to teach Student Teachers methods of instruction in an integrated classroom with blind and visually-impaired students and sighted students. Each of the ten Student Teachers participated in after school instruction to GHS students in Geography and Wildlife Identification. Using tactile maps with Braille legends and color maps of Uganda, the students learned the geography of the cities, towns, rivers, parks and country boundaries.

With the help of molded plastic realistic models of over 40 animal species, along with printed materials, students learned in small groups about the characteristics of Ugandan wildlife. Teachers and students formed the small groups and made presentations about animals they studied in detail and also made clay models.

Additionally, the student teachers were observed and given feedback on how to develop a lesson plan that was inclusive of the visually-impaired students. They developed their own plans and received feedback. The student teachers were also exposed to Braille and learned the alphabet and completed exercises while they were blind-folded to develop a personal sense of being visually-impaired.

The class was taught by Professor Marilyn Bland.

STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math)

Students working in the Library and Technology Center

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education is an initiative for these fields of study and emphasized in the educational curriculums in an all-inclusive process. Our goal is to present technology in a way that allows the students to incorporate this knowledge into their daily lives. They come away with an understanding that these curriculums are necessary and useful for them and their community and therefore worthy of their commitment of time and hard work.

Robotics and Electronics – 2015
Two tracks- for Beginners and the Experienced

Sunday, January 11th 2015 – Saturday, January 24th 2015

As a residential program hosted by Gulu High School and sponsored by Oysters & Pearls and taught by the Fundi Bots and Linz Craig, this program will teach the basic programming skills it takes to build a video game, teach how to design systems to communicate from a laptop to a robot and how to design a product and present it to a potential funder. This program supports high school curriculum in math, science, art and computer science. The program will be held at Gulu High School for S1 – S6 students, for boys and girls.

Interested? Download the Flyer!

Girls Impacting the Future Through Engineering – 2015

Sunday, January 11th 2015 – Saturday, January 24th 2015

This is a girls only residential program held at Gulu High School taught by a PhD candidate in Industrial Engineering, and High School teachers.

  • Using the Engineering Design Process, students will design and build a solution for one of the following:

    • Water Purification
    • Solar Ovens
    • Bike-Powered Generator
  • Students will explore whether an Engineering career might be in their future
  • Students will practice talking in front of a group, getting feedback from a Speech & Debate teacher on public speaking and effective presentation techniques.

Interested? Download the Flyer!


Engineering is Elementary 2013

Education is an initiative for these fields of study and emphasized in the educational curriculums in an all-inclusive process. Our goal was to present technology in a way that allows the students to incorporate this knowledge into their daily lives. After the series of classes taught by Kate Sokol and Erin Fitzgerald of the Boston Museum of Science, they came away with an understanding that these curriculums are necessary and useful for them and their community and therefore worthy of their commitment of time and hard work.

Read in the Boston Museum of Science Magazine (printed page 24) about the "Engineering is Elementary" program brought to Gulu, Uganda by Oysters & Pearls!

Read about this great experience through several of our blogs: Engineering is Elementary.

RockStarScientists – Knowledge in Chemistry 2013

Jennifer Stimpson, an experienced Chemist and educator from Dallas TX, taught a workshop to O-level girls (Secondary 1 – 4) focused on making Science interesting. She did this through exploratory and hands-on activities in a two-week after-school program at Gulu High School in June 2013. The girls spent an hour on Chemistry experiments and an hour on developing self-awareness and leadership skills. At the end of the program each student had an effective understanding of scientific inquiry; they developed a deeper understanding of science applications, science professions and can now unify concepts and processes through their newly found critical thinking skills.

Video of Jennifer Stimpson Receiving Award from Dallas Water Utilities

Robotics June 2013
Sparkfun Workshop in conjunction with FundiBots

Students used ProtoSnap that highlights analog and digital forms of input and output. They got started with the Arduino programming environment, did basic embedded systems programming and briefly covered basic circuitry of the inputs and outputs on a circuit board. The class is taught by Lindsay Craig, an Education Outreach Coordinator for Sparkfun Electronics (Boulder CO) and Solomon King founder of Fundibots (a Kampala-based NGO.)

Please read Lindsey Craig’s blog, “Teaching Robotics in Africa” which also contains a video about his experience!