On the 18th of May 2018, 10 ladies from Methodist Girls Senior High School placed first in the 20th World Robofest Championships. This was a tremendous feat by all standards.
Having ladies from an all-girls school in Ghana emerge as champions in a global competition was enough proof that the Ghanaian can be able to excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
In a country where brilliance and excellence in STEM is relegated to the west, this was an outstanding accomplishment.
Ghana can eliminate the inferiority its students face and create a pathway to STEM prowess by raising young students who have STEM at heart.
We are at a point in history where development is characterised by technological progress. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this fact more undeniable. COVID is proving that countries with high technological advances have a better advantage than those with low advances.
Without adequate preparation, our country and continent would be far from development. The gap between Africa and other developed countries (which is already huge) would be widened!
While reading an IMF report, I came across a staggering statistic. The report indicated that about five million scientists and engineers are needed to match the current trends of innovation and development. The story is even sadder in this part of our world. The majority of school-going children in the continent have no idea what science is in the first place.
To achieve balance, there is a need to have students graduating with strong STEM experiences gained throughout their stay in school. These students should be ready to fit right in the jobs of the future.
COVID has presented to us a perfect time to help bridge this gap. We can do this by raising and bringing up more STEM Experts. By targeting children from Junior and Senior High schools, we can effectively make them understand how important STEM is, how it is needed for the development of our nation, and how they can get themselves involved.
There is a catch, however. Students grow up believing that the sciences are for the extremely intelligent and elite. Going to them to speak to them as a motivating factor would have minimal effects and impacts. The best way to get these students interested and involved is through a hands-on approach.
By developing specific challenges taken from topics in their curriculum, we can get these kids to realise that STEM is for everyone and can be applied in virtually any field.
We can deliberately start preparing for a future with well-vested STEM experts by starting to nurture the passion of students in STEM now. By providing them with opportunities, materials and a platform that support exploration and discovery, we can let them follow up on their curiosity when they observe something unusual.
And no, we do not need to have expensive materials to make this possible. We can use easily available materials like papers and clay to create these challenges. The goal is to spark their curiosity and creativity. They can go on to build real inventions later in life.
This is possible because STEM skills are interactive and exploration based. Just as scaffolds support construction, we can scaffold children’s experiences by making them see STEM in their everyday lives. When we help young children investigate their environment, they experience the satisfaction that can come from investigation, discovery, and problem-solving.
This would have a knock-off effect and drive more students to STEM fields. When we have more STEM Experts, we can stand a chance at rapid progress and development. We can indeed have endless possibilities and someday, land humans on the Moon and Mars.
Yes, it is possible!
Author: Joshua Eyram Wordey,
Central Leadership Program.