THE YOUNG SCIENTISTS RISE PROJECT
INSPIRING GIRLS IN STEM
"By learning to create Technology, girls learn to be bold"! - Global Shapers Ho Hub
In some remote communities in Volta Region, Ghana, people still believe that a woman’s role in the Society 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 every morning only to wash dishes, prepare food and take care of the laundry without having one of the basic necessities of life, a formal education.
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.These socio-cultural barriers have made it very difficult for most young girls all over the world to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses.
As a Society, we learn about the World and advance our well-being through science and engineering. The United States may be known around the World for its higher education, but compared to many other leading and steadily emerging countries, we lack a strong focus on educating scientists and engineers. One significant reason that we have fallen behind is that we do not encourage our female students to pursue career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
At Global Shapers Ho Hub we believe that as a Nation, we stand to gain a lot by exposing young girls to STEM fields and encouraging those who are interested to follow their hearts and minds with passion.
With this in mind, the Global Shapers Ho Hub led by Shaper Harry Akligoh embarked on the Young Scientists Rise (YSR) project, an STEM project designed to motivate and expose Junior High School and Senior High School female students 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 Flats Basic School respectively all in the Volta Region of Ghana. Female students were also drawn from SHS1,2 and 3.
During our interactions, we realized they barely had any idea on the diverse career options available in STEM. The girls asked lots of mind-boggling questions which intrigued us. They had lots of expectations like; “I want to know more about science, know how to use scientific apparatus in the lab and to boost my confidence level in tackling science and mathematics problems”, etc.
STEM Center GH, Life-Mac Foundation and The Crucible partnered with the Global shapers Ho Hub to embark on the YSR project.
Participants were given lab coats and goggles to wear. Male and female mentors took turns to share with the participants their challenges and successes whiles studying science and mathematics and how they were able to overcome them. Azavu Beatrice, one of the mentors, shared her story on how 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 solving one mathematics question every day. The participants were intrigued by the story of Beatrice and began asking lots of questions.
After the interactions and exposure to careers in STEM, the students were divided into four groups. Each group was engaged practically on the thematic areas in STEM. Group I observed under the microscope the onion cell, learnt the types of microscope and how to focus objects. The students were amazed at what they saw hence appreciated more what their teachers had been teaching them in class.
Group II was the make and design group. They practiced and placed their concepts in density, buoyancy and floatation 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 was awarded for her efforts.
Group III using the concept of machines in physics were able to assemble a pre-programmable car and the final group, group four were engaged in identifying the parts of the human skeleton and human organs that make up a complete human being.
The final activities of the YSR project saw the girls developing a simple rocket using local materials such as vinegar and baking soda. The girls were overwhelmed and fascinated when their simple made rocket flew to the sky and back.
Correcting the negative perceptions that girls develop at a young age can, however, lead them to embrace math and science when they reach High School, rather than avoid the subjects. Administrators and educators must strive to create environments in high school and college math and science programs that are inviting to females if we want to prevent the likelihood of their choosing a different direction. As long as young boys and girls are exposed to science and technology and are equally encouraged to study those disciplines, those with talent and a genuine interest in STEM will be able to develop that interest.
If we want to attract the best and brightest minds into the fields that will move us forward, we must look to all of the population. More women can contribute to our field, and we can help make that happen.