“I am amongst those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale…” Marie Curie.
In July, Kenya will be launching its inaugural Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) National Science and Technology Exhibition. The exhibition will be held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on July 5-6th 2018. Young Scientists Kenya is a unique platform for young people to demonstrate their innovation and showcase their scientific talents.
Young Scientists Kenya was founded under the guidance of British Telecom Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) in Ireland. The platform is aligned with Kenya’s goals both long and short-term. It encourages young people to develop an interest in science and to figure out how to solve problems.
The program is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics better known as STEM education. According to the CS of Education, Ambassador Dr. Amina Mohammed, although STEM has not attained the desired level, it continues to improve. “44% of last year’s placement to tertiary institutions went to STEM courses while 56% went to humanities.”
The Young Scientists Kenya exhibition will be a key step in the development of the program. The showcase is organized in partnership with BLAZE by Safaricom, Embassy of Ireland and the Ministry of Education. The program, which was introduced to Kenya in 2017 has had tremendous success in Tanzania where it has been functional for 8 years.
Students participating in the programme will showcase projects in four broad categories at the exhibition: Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences; Ecological and Biological Sciences; Technology, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. The winners will be awarded on 6th July and the winners will walk away with fully paid trips to Ireland to visit the Irish chapter of the Young Scientists initiative.
Young Scientists Kenya is in its pilot stage and it has been able to reach 80 schools from 10 counties in the country. It is bound to roll out to other counties as it progresses. It has been able to reach 6000 students with 164 being trained and adopted into the program.
The chair of Young Scientist Kenya says that their main agenda is to maximize the curiosity of children, build their skills in innovation and equip them on how to live in the 21st century.
According to Charles Wanjohi, Acting Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom, the exhibition is an opportunity to empower young people interested in STEM. The program brings stakeholders who are ready to work towards a common goal, which is to make STEM accessible to all.
Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Ireland’s Ambassador to Kenya says, “To develop a nation, you need to invest in young people. Provide education to all people, develop it, make sure it is relevant to the society and this will help in developing the economy.” He offered to support the program, on behalf of his country, financially, with technical details and by providing judges. He also promises that the winner of YSK will be accorded the chance to participate in BTYSTE.
3 students who are in the program got a chance to give a hint of what we should expect at the exhibition. Aisha described her invention which is meant to detect reckless drivers. Rick Ngugi, a student from Thika High school has an innovation on how to develop sustainable paper from sugar stalks and waste banana stems. Maryanne, a student from Kenya High School, described an invention that would create a natural killer to mosquitoes.
More than 160 students, approximately 5000 guests from private and public sectors, academia and the international community are expected to attend the exhibition. 92 projects have been submitted for the exhibition. This year’s theme is “Making Stem Education Accessible to All.”
“Our focus is to drive innovation further and support early stage innovation that happens in schools,” Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Safaricom.