Over the first week of January 2017, a group of 70 secondary school students gathered at Marian University College, Bagamoyo for a ground-breaking training session – the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Youth Boot Camp organized by Projekt Inspire in collaboration with other STEM stakeholders like Ramani Huria, Ifakara Health Institue (IHI), African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Zimtac, with support from Bagamoyo District Council. These students, hailing from different regions of Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Moshi, Arusha, Mbeya, to name a few), we’re there to be mentored and display their innovations in areas of STEM.
STEM Youth Boot Camps are a Projekt Inspire initiative. This initiative helps to improve the quality of secondary education by integrating classroom lessons into the development of interactive projects. By introducing such interactive projects at all levels of secondary school, students are able to apply the theories that they learn in practical, real-world situations. Against this backdrop, the students are often “inspired” to pursue STEM-related careers.
The objectives of the STEM Boot Camp were:
- Students to be equipped with skills and experiences in STEM fields that will prepare them to face the innovative and valuable global market
- Improve the quality of education through increased participation of youth in STEM activities and researches
- Trigger the students’ passion by actively engaging them in research, problem solving and creativity in the STEM fields of study
- Empowering female students to actively participate and engage in STEM subjects, thus improving their overall performance in STEM-related fields
- Offer career guidance and inspiration to students interested in pursuing higher education in the STEM fields
- Serve as a bridge between the students, faculties and employers in the STEM fields allowing students to see employment and poverty alleviation opportunities in the field
- Improve the student’s ability in understanding some of the concepts taught in these classes by offering alternative studying approaches and making the studying process fun and interactive.
The students were divided according to their areas of interest into five groups. Each group was having an average of 13 students as follows:
Chemistry Class – WASH Group Objectives:
- Introducing secondary school students to field and laboratory scientific research methods in the WASH field
- Apply chemistry knowledge in assessing water quality and make connections between the chemistry and biology of the water sources
- Comparative analysis of water treatment and filtration systems available readily in the market.
Click HERE for the video of chemistry class
The Biology Class – Global Health and Malaria Group Objectives:
1. Appreciate the wider economic impacts as well as health impacts of vector-borne diseases.
2. Become familiar with the complexities of a transmission system, using Malaria as the model disease
3. Get an introduction to fieldwork, including mosquito traps and vector identification
4. Get an introduction to lab work doing DNA extraction. Discuss how DNA is used for mosquito identification
5. Brainstorm and design potential vector intervention strategies and present them to their peers.
Click HERE for the video of Biology
Technology Class – Hardware Hacking Group:
Hardware hacking class which was also referred to as intro to robotics aimed at introducing the students to the use of micro-controllers (i.e. Arduino Nano)to bring solutions to a local problem.
The main objective of this class was encouraging students to develop a passion and drive for problem-solving. Hence, during the course of the boot camp, we worked on developing 3 projects that solved several defined challenges. The class didn’t connect to any particular Sustainable development goals but the students through the projects learnt how they can make devices/ solutions that can be used by other teams who are working on a specific sustainable development goal.
Click HERE for the video of Technology Class
Engineering Class – Drones for Mapping Group:
As a current trending technology, drones are front in line with their ability to do more than what is expected, like saving tables in a restaurant. The engineering team learnt the technologies behind these amazing flying robots and be able to fabricate their own custom drone that will map geographical locations in sync with other groups.
Click HERE for the Engineering class Video
Mathematics Class – programming and coding:
This project aimed at developing many skills among the Bootcamp students – especially modelling, programming and collaborating—by developing a website presenting the other projects and proposing some relevant scientific modelling of a phenomenon countered by the other groups.
Firstly, Bootcamp students learnt how to create a website. They used HTML, which is the crucial programming language on the basis of most of the accessible content on the Internet.
This website advertises the results obtained by their classmates in the other projects. This will required close collaboration between the group responsible for the website and the others. Expected benefits from such a collaboration included enhanced skills in communication, organization and coordination.
The students also had to appropriately share the work among themselves. After broadly designing together the website, it was necessary that, given the small amount of time available, sub-group stake responsibility of some particular page, design it, decide the detail of its content and finally code it.
Secondly, to increase the scientific knowledge of the bootcamp students, they presented in their website a scientific modeling of some phenomena that other groups encountered: Like how can a drone fly? how to measure the quantity of a given pollutant in a water well? This modeling was also be presented on the website.
Career Guidance and Mentorship
More over the students got opportunities to present their innovations, receive mentorship.
On January 6th, the project exhibition and closing ceremony were held with the guest of honour Engineer Stella Manyanya represented by Prof. Simon Msanjila, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Featured within the ceremony were the presentations made by the students on their field findings.
Click HERE for the full report of the Boot Camp 2017