Turning into the VIP station at 4.30am I could see a number of drowsy eyed individuals and some dragging their feet along with bags headed for their various destinations. I on the other hand was full of life and expectation. As I boarded the bus destined for Kumasi, I was excited for what lay ahead of me. Although long, the discomfort of the 4-5hr journey could not compare to the joy of what lay ahead of me at the end of the journey; the closing ceremony of Lab_13 Ghana.
I arrived at the Agape Academy located in the Bosomtwe District just before 10am. Quickly making contact with one of the advisory board members, I made a beeline for the designated room set aside for Lab_13 activities at the top of the three storey building. Having missed out on the opening ceremony, I had been waiting three months to see this space and wanted to do so before the ceremony commenced.
The lab was like a children’s play room, except rather than alphabets, letters and furry animals painted on the walls, there was the water cycle, solar system and human organs. The room itself was segmented into what can only be described as play-stations; but rather than lego bricks, cars and dolls there were batteries, cardboard models and come contraptions I couldn’t identify a use for including a modified bucket which I later learnt served as an air cannon. Indeed this room felt like a space meant to promote curiosity, creation, science and art. I could really see how all the videos of experiments Lab_13 had been releasing over the duration was birthed and then executed in this same room.
The program started shortly after my personal experience of the lab with two students serving as MC’s for the day. An opening prayer preceded the introduction of guests including Petrine Addae, Project Lead, African Women Advocay Project; Frances Ling, Lightyear Foundation Trustee; Hon. Veronica Adjei, District Chief Executive, Bosomtwe District and myself. The Chairman, Mr George Attopany in his Chairman’s response and the Headmaster of Agape Academy in his welcome address both expressed their gratitude, experience with Lab_13 Ghana and their hopes for continuous work and expansion of this much needed initiative.
Over the next hour and a half the audience was addressed by various personalities interspersed with song performances from some of the pupils including a lovely rendition by a young boy who wowed all present with his musical talents. Some of the personalities who addressed the audience included Gameli Adzaho, Advisory Board member of Lab_13 Ghana; Rick Hall, Frances Ling, Hon. Veronica Adjei and two students from the student management committee of Lab_13 Ghana. Each speaker touched on various aspects pertaining to the future of science education, sustainability and the impact of practical experience on the minds of young students. Noteworthy was when Rick Hall threw a challenge to the students about his desire to see a Nobel laureate within his lifetime, who will acknowledge Lab_13 Ghana as the foundations for their scientific exploits.
The last speech marked the end of the official component of the ceremony and what followed was nothing short of splendour. Dance choreographies from various participating schools mixed with fund raising activities and poetry recitals. Scientific demonstrations showing how the human body conducts electricity, non-newtonion fluids which act as liquid and solid, Sobolo as an acid base indicator and the confuser headphones.
The excitement didn’t end there; a loud drum roll announced the arrival of the Agape Academy Cadet Corps who executed a wonderful and synchronised march/display. Sharp turns, effortless synchronisation and the military approach to their march continually drew applauses from all present. Their march was followed by the presentation of certificates to participating schools which was received by teacher representatives from each school. Certificates were also presented to Participants of Titanic 2015, Boatastic Race. There were over 10 boats on display each uniquely made and proudly presented by the teacher responsible. Once placed in the pool many rushed to marvel at the student made creations before them.
Like me, many amongst the audience were yet to see the lab for themselves and like on cue the Chairman’s closing response soon came. This was followed by an open invitation for all to be escorted through the Lab and see for themselves what the many students who had passed through its doors had created and enjoyed.
Indeed the pilot project which is Lab_13 has proved a splendid success. This landmark should be a reference point and birth place of many more similar labs which in my opinion should pop up all over the country. The success chalked up by Lab_13 should be recognised and replicated so many more may also benefit. Lightyear Foundation in conjunction with Ignite have plans on expanding the project to Cape coast and beyond. Indeed finances remain a stumbling block so my humble plea to all who have made it to the end of this article is to engage with this initiative whenever and wherever you hear about a call for support. Who knows, your funds and service could be supporting the first ever Ghanaian Nobel Prize laureate in any of the sciences.