Inspiring STEM Education: A Journey with WAAW Foundation
Hello, my name is Adegboyega Oguntade. Join me on a journey as I share my experience with the WAAW Foundation and how it has influenced my passion for STEM education. From participating in their programs to organizing STEM outreach and competitions, I have witnessed the transformative power of STEM in shaping young minds and empowering future leaders.
Starting with the WAAW Foundation:
In 2018, I embarked on a transformative journey with the WAAW Foundation by participating in their STEM Teachers Training Program. Equipped with rich content, I was inspired to make a difference in my community by imparting STEM knowledge to young minds.
Organizing STEM Outreaches:
Driven by a desire to be a different kind of teacher, I took the initiative to organize STEM outreaches in secondary schools as a licensed teacher by creating Penuel STEM. By bridging the gap between privileged and underprivileged students, I aim to provide equal opportunities for all to learn coding, robotics, web design, and mobile app development.
Experience with the STEAM and Tech Competition I organized in Ikorodu, Lagos:
Organizing the recent outreach in Ikorodu for the STEAM and Tech competition was a significant milestone. Despite initial challenges and low turnout, the event became a success through resilience and the belief that even impacting one person’s life is a victory, which is something I learned from Dr. Unoma’s statement, “If we have one person for a training, it’s a success,” during the just concluded South Africa Fellows Summit. We had about 15 schools in attendance with students who were all actively ready to participate despite the heavy rain. The idea of the STEAM and Tech competition came from the fact that such events never happen in Ikorodu. I wanted to be the first one to take the initiative, impact the students, and make it a continuous event. The competition covers various STEAM projects and a quiz competition in different programming languages.
How I engaged the students to enhance learning:
During the competition, I engaged students through various activities and challenges, including a STEAM project they were tasked with working on relating to solving problems in society and an online STEM quiz based on fastest fingers. STEAM projects were presented and judged by experts, which included friends I reached out to and an educationist, and criteria like relevance, materials (locally sourced), and presentation skills were considered. The TECH competition incorporated programming languages, fostering healthy competition among students through an online quiz based on the programming knowledge they had.
Impact STEAM and TECH competitions have on Education and the Girl Child:
Competitions like these have the power to ignite interest in STEM subjects and shape future career aspirations. By providing hands-on experiences, boosting confidence, and fostering collaboration, we empower students, especially girls, to excel in STEM fields. Collaborative efforts from governments, educational institutions, and civil society organizations can help create an environment where competition becomes a tool for inclusivity, empowerment, and educational advancement for the girl child in Africa.
Challenges I faced while organizing the outreach and competition:
While organizing the outreach and competition, I encountered various challenges, one of which was the resistance to accepting new developments and ideas in our society. Embracing innovative programs and initiatives can often be met with skepticism and reluctance. I went the extra mile to demonstrate the value and potential impact of the outreach program. By showcasing the opportunities it provided for students to enhance their skills and explore new technologies, I aimed to generate excitement and curiosity among the participants and their communities. It was essential to demonstrate that the program was free of charge, ensuring that schools had nothing to lose by participating. This helped alleviate any financial concerns and encouraged them to give it a chance.
During one of the outreaches I organized, a particularly heartwarming and memorable moment unfolded. Among the students attending the web design class was a young girl, approximately 9 years old, who did not have access to a laptop. Despite this limitation, her enthusiasm for web design was unmatched. She channeled this enthusiasm into creating a website that was not only functional but also beautifully designed.
This experience reinforced my belief in the transformative power of STEM education. It is not limited by age, access to resources, or circumstances. By providing opportunities for students to explore their interests, we can unlock their hidden talents and empower them to achieve remarkable things. This success story serves as a reminder that every student has the potential to excel in STEM fields, regardless of their background or limitations. It is our responsibility as educators and mentors to foster an inclusive and supportive environment where young minds can thrive and unleash their creativity.
Through initiatives like the STEAM and TECH competitions, we can continue to inspire and nurture the passion for STEM among students. By recognizing and celebrating their achievements, we encourage a lifelong love of learning and the pursuit of excellence.
WAAW Foundation’s Contribution:
The WAAW Foundation has played a vital role in my ability to successfully implement these programs. Their training, projects, and supportive network have provided valuable insights, resulting in excellent outcomes. As a beneficiary of the WAAW Foundation program, I cannot overstate the profound impact it has had on my personal and professional growth in the field of STEM. The program’s comprehensive support and resources have played a pivotal role in shaping my journey and empowering me to reach new heights. One of the key aspects that has greatly influenced my development is the program’s commitment to educational support. Through workshops, seminars, and hands-on training, I have gained a wealth of knowledge and practical skills in various STEM disciplines.
Overall, the WAAW Foundation program has been a transformative force in my life. It has equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to excel in the field of STEM. Beyond technical expertise, it has nurtured my passion for making a difference, provided me with a supportive community, and given me the tools to contribute meaningfully to society. I am forever grateful for the opportunities and growth that the WAAW Foundation has facilitated, and I am excited to continue my journey as a STEM advocate and changemaker.
How I plan to make a broader impact:
Looking ahead, my goal is to expand STEM outreach initiatives by organizing interactive workshops, science fairs, hackathons, and coding competitions. By engaging students, parents, and the community, we can create a broader impact and inspire more young minds. These events can generate interest, spark curiosity, and provide opportunities for networking and mentorship.
Advice for STEM Education Advocates:
To those passionate about promoting STEM education and organizing similar outreach programs, I encourage you to invest in your own learning, attend training and workshops, collaborate, share ideas and resources, and never give up. Remember, nothing good comes easy.
Through my journey with the WAAW Foundation, I have witnessed the incredible impact of STEM education on students’ lives. By empowering them with knowledge, skills, and opportunities, we can shape a brighter future and inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. Let us continue to promote and nurture the love for STEM education, making a lasting difference in the world.
At the WAAW Foundation, we believe in providing equal opportunities to all students, regardless of their background, and creating inclusive competition environments. To achieve this vision and make a broader impact in our community, we rely on the generosity of donors like you.
Your contribution can help us organize interactive workshops, science fairs, hackathons, and coding competitions that engage students, parents, and the wider community. By supporting our efforts, you are investing in the future of STEM education and empowering young minds to explore their potential.
Join us in shaping the next generation of innovators, problem solvers, and leaders. Your donation can make a significant difference in the lives of students, especially for the girl child across Africa. Together, we can create a brighter future for all.
To make a donation or learn more about our initiatives, please visit our website at waawfoundation.org/donation/