Dig, Dig, Dig - Making a New Path

Our school path gets a bit of a battering especially during the rainy season, which will be soon upon us! Thankfully we had a visit by a very special guest at the end of last year who helped improve our path.


The problem with our path was it had, over time, eroded away so that often it didn’t resemble a path but rather a river! The good soil was being washed into our path and our path was acting like a drain. Some days we couldn’t even use the path to get to the eating banda and had to walk along the main road, which is dangerous because of trucks and cars. We tried putting sand bags to make a bridge and bricks along the edge but nothing seemed to work. We needed help!


Monica George, a civil engineer who has worked in Australia, Fiji and Canada, came and visited our school in December ready to help fix our path. Monica first spoke to all our classes about what was wrong with the path and how she was going to help us fix it.


With the help of Mrisho Zakaria, some day labourers, parents of students, kids from the Baobab Children’s Home and even STA students, Monica got to work building a brand new path. First she marked out the direction the new path would take. She looked at plans we had of the school farm property to decide. She had to think about where the slopes were, where the lowest point was, where the water would be flowing after rain, and which direction was the quickest route to get from school to the eating banda. Then she got to work measuring, marking and digging.


After marking out where the path would go, Monica with some helpers including our Standard 3,4 and 5 students starting digging swales which are like gutters or drains down either side of the path. This is so the water flows down the swales rather than along the path and the path stays dry and safe to walk on.



Then Monica needed the whole school’s help! The path was too high and the sand too loose. We needed people to flatten it. The whole school finished classes early and walked up and down the path three times flattening the soil.


We collected rocks from the old path and some stones left over from the library building construction to put in the swales to help direct the water.


Now for the finishing touches. Again some of our students helped Monica, Mrisho and others to put in some more drains for the water to flow through. The aim was to keep the water off the path when the heavy rains start.


Now the path was ready!


It looks beautiful and has already proven to help direct the water during the rain. We have not had to use the main road once and we have had some pretty heavy rain so far this year. We are very grateful to Monica George and GHD Canada for helping us make a path that connects our classrooms to our eating and playing area.



Wanafunzi Questions

1. What is erosion? Can you locate some examples of erosion in your school or local community?

2. What is a swale? Why would an engineer use swales?

3. How many paths do you have in your school? What are they made of (concrete, dirt, sand, asphalt)?

4. At STA our path was a big problem. It was so bad that often students would get wet shoes and socks walking to lunch and sometimes some of our younger students fell into the water and got wet and dirty. Walking along the main road instead of the path was also dangerous. Are there any problems in your school that you think need fixing? Do you have any suggestions for how to make your school environment better?

5. Have you ever helped to build something? If yes, what was it?

6. Imagine you are Monica, our engineer visitor. Write a recount of your time building a path in Tanzania. Remember to mention the weather! It was very very very hot!

Wanafunzi Lesson Ideas

Below are some lesson ideas for teachers to use. We also want to help you link this blog to the curriculum in your country. Our aim is for our Wanafunzi program to be integrated into your curriculum and hopefully make it easier for teachers to use in the classroom with students of all ages and abilities. Please email [email protected] if you have any suggestions or visit www.steventitoacademy.org/wanafunzi if you have further queries about our Wanafunzi program.

Australian Curriculum - Year 3 & 4– Geographical Inquiry and Skills – Reflecting and Responding

Curriculum objective:

Reflect on their learning to propose individual action in response to a contemporary geographical challenge and identify the expected effects of the proposal.

Lesson Idea:

Explore erosion at your school, local area and even worldwide. What is erosion? What challenges does erosion present to humans and our way of life? What measures can be taken to prevent erosion? Students can work in groups to come up with an idea for preventing erosion. What do they aim to achieve with their proposal and how? They may also work together to create an awareness campaign about erosions creating news reports, articles, and/or posters and flyers.

You could use this STA blog as a springboard to discuss different environmental problems in your school and community such as bushfires, floods, or drought. Students could take action by coming up with a action plan based on the geographical challenge chosen by the class.



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