The 2014 Google RISE Award has enabled WAAW foundation to expand the impacts of one of its initiatives, the STEM College to secondary school outreach and mentoring program by empowering over 150 African College students to provide STEM mentoring, instructions and support to over 5000 secondary school students in 8 African Countries.
Sequel to the 2013/14 Google RISE Partnership award, The Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) foundation in partnership with the Emerging Leaders in Technology And Engineering, ELiTE organized two Fellows summit and Computer training programs for African University students that conduct STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach and mentoring program in African Secondary schools. The Summit participants were provided with comprehensive STEM and Computer science training, curriculum and teaching materials. According to Dr. Unoma Ndili Okorafor, WAAW founder and CEO, “The fellows summit and training program is aimed at training Fellows to serve as mentors and role model resources in various African secondary schools, while providing tools to demonstrate computer science and STEM content, discuss research and inquiry?based learning, and use integrative problem?based activities to whet students appetite for STEM innovation.”
The 2014 East and West Africa Regional Fellows Summit and training program gathered 17 and 16 participants at the Brookhouse School, Nairobi, Kenya from July 23-28 and the University of Cape coast, Cape coast, Ghana from August 4 -10 respectively. Summit participants were WAAW STEM fellows from 13 Universities in Africa including four Universities in Nigeria – University of Portharcourt, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Delta state university & University of Benin, two universities in Kenya – University of Nairobi & Jomo Kenyetta University, two universities in South Africa – University of Pretoria & University of Kwazulu Natal, Catholic University of Malawi, National Advanced school of Engineering, Cameroon, Kwame Nkruhmah University of Science and technology, Ghana, University of Lome and Makarere University, Uganda.
The Summit provided groundbreaking hands-on STEM and Computer science workshops and lessons, focused on using simple, locally available resources and technically driven by WAAW and ELiTE STEM facilitators. Majority of the fellows experienced their first in-depth training on Introduction to Energy, the Physics of Flight, Wind Energy Basics, Advanced Wind Energy Technology, Solar Energy Technology, Changing Climates, Generating Electricity, and Computer programming using the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Blockly (maze & turle) tools and editors. Relevant local contents were emphasized to help the fellows make connections between STEM concepts and their everyday lives, for example, they experienced demonstrations in mobile technology, green energy and environmental waste control focus on how technologies can solve current problems in Africa.
The Summit also created opportunity for sharing of best teaching practices, engagement and resources as means to promote STEM and CS Education for African youth. Through daily activities, team-building games, videos etc, fellows learnt new ways of increasing students’ engagement in STEM and Computer science. Mercy Aboh, the cell leader of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria remarked that, “I’ve learnt more about being a team player….better ways to my teaching and how to make learning fun and interesting for the secondary school girls”.
At the end of the Summit, Fellows were provided with renewable energy kits and ELiTE’s STEM-in-a-box kits including Raspberry Pi computers and mechatronics packages with Arduino microcontrollers to facilitate STEM and computer programming in African secondary schools. “We have a broader STEM and CS curriculum to deliver to the secondary school students…the students will learn computer programming.” – Ololade Osunsanya, Catholic University of Malawi.
Fellows returned to their countries to train other fellows that did not have the opportunity to attend the summit. The fellows would then give back to their community by visiting secondary schools in their communities every month to teach, mentor and impact over 5000 students especially girls of ages 13-17 years in STEM and computer programming. “I intend to pass on the knowledge I have gained to the learners. There is nothing greater than the gift of knowledge, so to the best of my ability, I want to impart S on the children. The computer programming sessions have me really excited, I can’t wait to see the children’s faces when they realize how easy it is to not only use a ‘computer’ but also how easy it is to program and build applications! This will build their confidence and encourage them to go for STEM disciplines later in future”, said Noxolo Sibiya, South African Fellow.
Lilian Makarere summed it up this way, “The training was a stepping stone for me….I actually acquired more knowledge than I expected. I was challenged to go back and reach out to my community; this is an experience that every African girl ought to get. The new technology that i learnt is fantastic! I just can’t wait for school to open so that I can share it with the rest of the fellows in my cell and begin outreach to secondary schools in my community”.
We are grateful to all our sponsors, family and friends who have contributed in one way or the other to the success of the Summit. Thank you so much!!