Estimating fufu and problem solving

Ghana Summer 2012 Blog

Written by: Alessondra Springmann

June 24, 2012

Our first week is over!  Jovana and Louis are grading labs, while LiAn and I are scheming ways to encourage the students to speak and communicate more clearly in the context of presentations, and eventually, elevator pitches and business plans.  It's a fun process for them and us, figuring out ways to document your assumptions and think about every step involved in a calculation, a program, or even building a system or a business.  

We gave them a weekend assignment, a back of the envelope problem, to calculate how many kilograms of fufu (a dense pounded starch made from cassava) are eaten yearly at their university, including their assumptions, logical steps, and any other pieces of information they used to arrive at a final number.  The students I spoke to had never encountered problems like this: their first responses were to go do a survey (a great approach, but difficult over the weekend!).  I'm curious to see what shows up in my inbox tomorrow.

The structure of the university programs here is such that a lot of students don't get much practical programming time in their courses' labs.  AITI is so different for them in that regard, the multi-hour labs in which to actually build things and ask questions (and get them answered!). 

Our AITI students (ahem, entreprneurs) are perhaps my favorite group that I've taught: they're respectful, industrious (they can use Google to figure out all sorts of things!), and very focused.  With that comes a bit of shyness towards asking questions, but we're hoping through more interactive lectures, groupwork, presentations, and guest speakers that their confidence in asking for information publically be less daunting.

We just had a power outage, so I guess it's time to head out into the heat!  Thanks for reading.