January 19, 2018

Young Scientists Rise. Inspiring girls into STEM

In some remote communities in the Volta region, people still believe that a woman’s role is to give birth, take care of the family and raise children. Again, notwithstanding, some are still of the view that a girl is to wake up, wash the dishes, prepare food and go to bed without doing her homework. In addition, some also hold on to the belief that girls are not to pursue courses like science and mathematics in school because they are “male” courses.

Young girls the world over because of these sociocultural barriers have found it very difficult to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. At the Global Shapers Ho Hub we the believe that Good things always happen when the science community engages with the general public.

The Young Scientists Rise (YSR) project, developed by YSR project lead Harry Akligoh is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) project which was designed to exist and expose female students in remote areas in Ho, Volta region who are in junior and senior high school to careers in STEM aside the typical medical doctor mentality and also to awaken their creative minds through hands on science demonstration activities.

The YSR project engaged 30 female students from the Presby Basic School and SSNIT Flat Basic School respectively. The female students were in form one, two and three and barely had any idea about the diverse career options available to them in STEM. With lots of expectations from the young female students like; ‘I want to know more about science’,  ‘I want to know how to use scientific apparatus in the lab’ and ‘I want to boost my confidence level in tackling science and mathematics problems’;  the project commenced.

The STEM Centre GH and The Crucible partnered with the global shapers Ho Hub to embark on the project.

The participants were given lab coats and goggles to wear. Male and female mentors alike took turns to share with the participants their ups and downs while studying science and mathematics and how they were able to overcome them. Azavu Beatrice one of the mentors told the participants that for her, her motivation and love to do and excel at science was due to her failure in mathematics and because she didn’t want to fail again, she had to practice a mathematics problem every day. The participants were intrigued by the story of Beatrice and began asking lots of questions.

After the much talk and exposure to careers in STEM, the students were divided into four groups. Each group was engaged practically on the thematic areas in STEM.  The first group observed under the microscope the onion cell, and learnt about the types of microscopes and how to focus objects. The students were amazed at what they saw hence appreciated more what they learned in class. Group two was the make and design group. They practised and placed their concepts in density, buoyancy and flotation to work and developed a raft that could float. Members of this group were challenged to see which of them would design the biggest raft that could float without sinking and to the amazement of all, one of the students did, and won for themselves some reward. The third group using the concept of machines in physics was able to assemble a pre-programmable car.  The final group, group four was engaged to identify the parts of the human skeleton and human organs and form a complete human being.

The final activities of the projects engaged the girls to develop a simple rocket using local materials such as vinegar and baking soda. The girls were overwhelmed and fascinated when their simple made rockets took to the sky and got back. The project ended with thank you messages from the girls and their call on us to organize more of this project for them and other female students in other schools.