A Crafty Bit of Maths!

At the Diapalante Community Education Centre the younger members enthusiastically set about making hexaflexagons quite unaware that, as well as a fun craft puzzle, they were doing a maths activity. It was a rewarding exercise, the hexaflexagons got everbody asking questions and trying to work out the answers with their friends.

A hexaflexagon

The first challenge was to follow the instructions to glue and fold the paper template to get from the row of triangles to the hexaflexagon. Then we had to work out how to flex the hexaflexagon to reveal its hidden surfaces. The flexing bit was easiest for those who were accurate in cutting, folding and gluing. But, with perseverance, we all got to a shape which flexed.

  • The hexaflexagon template.

Some maths was introduced by the session leaders, and some by the children:
What is this six sided shape called?
A regular hexagon is made up of how many equilateral triangles?
How many colours of triangles did we start with?
Why can’t we see them all now?
Where are the other colours hiding?

If you have never tried this, have a go. Hexaflexagon template.

Balloon Power!

After being shown a YouTube video, our youngsters were challenged to create a balloon powered racing car. With a prize for the best decorated and a prize for the car which travelled furthest they set to work with a will and were successful in creating a whole range of stylish working cars.

  • Youngsters make and decorate balloon powered cars.


Visits Visits Visits

February was a month of visitors here at Diapalante. Polly’s parents were the first, arriving at the end of January. Shona, Polly’s mum, spent a productive Saturday morning at the centre, using her skills as a fashion designer to help fix one of the members sewing machines. She also tested her times tables with some of the younger members, and we’re not sure who enjoyed the competition more!

The next week, Liz and Ian, Diapalante trustees, arrived for their annual month-long visit, and were welcomed back into the centre with open arms. They got straight to work, applying their expertise to everything from repairing computers to fixing broken doors and testing out 70-year-old sewing machines! Liz has also been working with one of the members, Mor Talla, teaching him about the setup and upkeep of our network of almost 20 computers. Mor Talla is keen to become a computer specialist, and so this training will give him an opportunity to develop his skills and knowledge (as well as giving Diapalante Centre a resident computer technician!). Liz and Ian have also had the chance to help out in a more hands on way; they have participated in multiple English lessons, using their skills as native English speakers to lend a helping hand to any member that wanted it. They have also been indispensible in demonstrating this months theme of ‘art and culture’, introducing the members to such quintesentially British things as loose-leaf breakfast tea and accordian music!

Project Trust, who place the two gap year volunteers at the Centre, visit all the projects they partner once a year. Their Africa desk officer, Niall, was the next visitor, and is pictured here with Corran

The final visitors in February were Corran’s family. Her parents and brother spent several days at the centre, getting to know the members and helping out. David, Corran’s father, used his skills as a maths teacher to help various members of all ages with their maths work. They all also helped out in the English lessons, giving more members the opportunity to practice their language with a native speaker. The whole family had their fortunes told as part of an English lesson, below is Corran’s turn.

On the family’s final day in the centre, we decided to impart a very important part of Scottish culture onto the members; ceilidh dancing. After a warm-up game of musical chairs, with Ian on his accordian, we started to teach some of the more simple dances. Although some members started off quite shy, eventually everyone got very involved, and had loads of fun. And then the roles switched, and a local dance teacher tried to teach us Senegalese dancing. It was considerably less successful than the first round, but everyone had lots of fun, and it was a brilliant send-off for Corran’s family.

Wacky Weaving

Local craftsmen in Sénégal often use weaving to create their wares which they then sell in artisinal villages. Inspired by this, Diapalante explored weaving and complementary colours in a maker-day lesson.

To start off with, each person chose a square sheet to act as the base colour. We folded this in half and cut vertical slits in it. Next we flattened out the paper and cut up colourful strips to begin weaving. The every other strip started on one side of the base paper and the alternate on the other side. This was important because it made the weave tighter so it wouldn’t fall out.

The end result was impressive despite being relatively simple to create. We concluded that using the complementary colours worked but was not always neccessary to create an interesting final outcome.

Opportunities Overseas

One of the things Diapalante prides itself on most is its accessibilty to people from all walks of life. For most young adults, writing an application can be a daunting task. It can be the make or break for getting into university or applying for a job. Several members have been given the significant opportunity to live overseas.

For us Project Trust Volunteers, we are on the same page, having written a similar application nearly 2 years ago now. We were able to share our knowledge with the members who came searching for help.

Sadibou came to the centre hoping to find someone who would be able to help with his interview with the American Embassy in Dakar. And to the right place he came! A key member ofthe Kaolack community, he organises all the main Hip-Hop and dance events that happen in the city. Sadibou had made his initial application to do a Leadership Program to do with culture in AMerica. His dream was to go to America and create links with Kaolack in order to promote young people’s opportunities in the Arts sphere. He came in every day for a week in the hope of improving his interview skills and to fine tune his responses in accordance with the questions.

Mor Talla is a conscientious member at Diapalante who is often helping out organising events and helping the centre run smoothly. With the help of Corran and Polly, he wrote his application to the US Embassy for the Pan African Youth Leadership Program. This opportunity enables him to live in America for 3 weeks. He will be able to share Senegalese culture as well as absorb some American culture too. Only just last week he passed the first round, and had an Skype interview with the US Embassy. He said he thought the iterview was successful and that the questions were similar to that on his application.

The team at Diapalante all have their fingers and toes and eyes crossed hoping that both Sadibou and Mor Talla are granted these fantastic opportunities – GOOD LUCK BOYS!

Wonderful Wax

This month’s theme is Art and Culture, so the team at Diapalante have had the opportunity to unleash their inner creativity. The activity we used to kick start this month’s theme was exploring wax resist. The aim was to see how oil-based materials resist water-based materials. First we used wax crayons to draw out our pictures. Once we were satisfied, we then put a wash of blue ink over the picture we had drawn. What we discovered was that the ink only covered the non-wax areas; although, the droplets of ink left on the wax sometimes dried there too.

When the ink had little to no water mixed in it was darker which made it perfect for night skies. However, when the ink was washed in with more water it was lighter and worked better for sea and sky. The activity was successful because everyone had to opportunity to try it out and everyone learnt about wax being resistant.

Below is some of the students’ work!

A Month of Sport

The theme for January here at Diapalante centre was sport, and despite (or perhaps because of) the cold, the members approached it with enthusiasm. We kicked off the month with help from some guests from Joal who had come up for the weekend. Members of all ages came to the pitches of the local middle school, and we held a tournament of ‘ballon pannier’. Ballon pannier is a local sport, very similar to basketball and netball, but with a person holding a bucket in place of a net. Both male and female members got very competitive, and the session ended with Master P leading a cool-down exercise. The following week, we held a football tournament for all of the younger members. Again, both male and female members became very competitive, with inter-team rivalry running high.

The local middle school offers the perfect facility to play large team sports.

In the classroom, Master P led a series of sports-themed English lessons, including reading and listening activities, and covering topics such as ‘My favourite sport’ and sporting routines. And in the computer room, we had a poster competition for the younger members. In teams of four or five, members had to pick and then research a sport of their choice. Their posters included both a description of the sport and a famous player. The posters were written in French, but one very determined group wrote their poster, on rugby, entirely in English! There were also sports-related worksheets and lessons to encourage them to think about why we play sports.

In The Library

We’ve had a busy time here at Diapalante Centre, especially in the library. Being in charge of the library, I get to see the full extent of the members that come to Diapalante. We have books for all ages and abilities, in both English and French (and some in both), so the library is accessible to nearly everyone.

However, books aren’t the only resource available in the library. We also have a selection of educational games and activities which members can borrow and use. The Scrabble in particular is very popular, with members playing in both English and French!

As well as being a valuable resource for the members, it’s also a quiet place to sit and read, or to work on homework. The space is also used for small lessons and one-to-one help with anything from English to Maths,  and even essay-writing!

The library is invaluable, both to us and to the members. The opportunity to take books home gives people what can be their only chance to discover the joys of reading, and to focus on their learning without distraction.

A selection of the books available in the library.

Diapalante’s Got Talent!

Diapalante Centre saw out the end of 2017 with a bang, hosting our very own Talent Show! Held over an evening, it was an amazing opportunity to showcase the members’ talents outside the academic. The members  were buzzing with energy all week as the various acts practiced both in and out of the centre. Ranging from dance troupes and comedy to poetry reading and acting, members of all ages and abilities were keen to show off there talents. The evening was a great success, with every act showing how hard work really does pay off. The audience was made up of both current and former members, as well as some friends and family. Although every act was spectacular, there could of course be only one winner. Whilst the panel of judges, made up of members, made their decision, Master P treated the rest of the audience to some magic tricks. And then, time for results! After much suspense, the winners were announced, and they claimed their prize; a massive bag of toffee sweets. Afterwards, there were refreshments for all of the acts and the audience. Here are some of the highlights:

The winning group mid-dance.

The girls went all out with their colour-coordination.

The audience was treated to some comedic drama in Wolof – apparently it was very funny.