Achieving more through partnerships ‘Supporting and encouraging more female participation in Science and Technology through the STEM Uganda Girls Camp 2016’
Makerere University School of Public Health – ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) www.ranlab.orgpartnered with the STEM Uganda Girls Camp 2016 http://stem.ug/#menu to host a pitch event for the young girl campers at the RAN Innovation Lab as the last activity of the girls’ Camp 2016. It was about 10:30am EAT on a bright Monday morning of Monday January 25, 2016 when the STEM girls arrived at the Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Innovation Lab on Plot 30 Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Uganda. The RAN Team flanked by the RAN4Gals Team http://technovationug.blogspot.ug/ welcomed over 53 participants for this event, majority of who were females. These included entrepreneurs, mentors, Coordinators of the STEM Ugand Girls Camp, parents, and partners from Akorion, Google, Lacel Technologies, and Mt. St. Mary’s Namagunga who hosted the camp for three weeks. Being the last day of the camp, when the girls were finally going to pitch their innovative ideas to a jury of judges, parents, the RAN Team and fellow campers, it was a remarkable knowledge sharing and generation opportunity for the participants.
It is exciting to note that, the STEM Uganda Girls’ Camp 2016 was the first of its kind in Uganda. It commenced on Tuesday January 5, 2016, at Mt. St. Marys’ Namagunga. During the camp, the girls were also taken through the Design Thinking training, coding, networking and team building activities/skills among others.
Finally on the Monday January 25, 2016, the campers divided up in seven teams confidently and eloquently pitched their innovative ideas. The teams were code named; Fantastic six, Iconic gals, Jupiter, Sabtechors, Sci-Connectrix and Summer Stars. The climax of this event was the awards ceremony where participants (STEM Uganda Girl Campers) received certificates and flash disks in recognition of their good work and participation in the STEM Uganda Camp 2016. Special awards were given to the three winning teams: Sci-Connectrics in 1st place, Iconic Gals 2nd, and Jupiter in 3rd Place.
The RAN Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab Director Nathan Tumuhamye, encouraged the girls to continue working on innovative projects to address communities’ most pressing challenges stressing that this is the way to go! He added that, “Once girls decide to put their minds on doing something; they can really achieve great success. This is a key attribute that all of you must make use”. He also informed participants that the Innovation Lab space is readily available and open for use, as it was put up to support innovation.
Harriet Adong, the RAN Communications Manager shared an overview of RAN highlighting different opportunities which the girls can benefit from, both within and outside the Network. Such opportunities include but are not limited to; the Technovation challenge 2016 technovationchallnge.org, mentorship, Design Thinking Training, coaching on how to best pitch your product/idea, Needfinding, Bar Camps, Innovation Garage sessions, Social Design Clinics, Grant opportunities-Youth Spark Innovation Grants (YSiG) accessed at www.grants.ranlab.org open for receipt of applications and Ignite Innovator Series. She urged male counterparts to always include females in all that they do and in particular innovation, as they add a spice to it in an effort to make it even better.
Harriet Laker, Youth and Gender Specialist at Feed the Future Commodity Production Marketing Activityappreciated the efforts of STEM Uganda and other development partners in further empowering and supporting the girl child. Additionally, she encouraged the girls to remain resilient when faced with challenges in the work they are doing, innovation and day-to-day life experiences. That they should also venture into agriculture as the sector presents very many opportunities. She added, “Set a trade mark or make a foot print for the people who look up to you or follow you like your young brothers, sisters, relatives and friends. Create an impact in society and put innovations into place for us all to overcome community challenges. Our future is in your hands”.
The STEM Uganda 2016 Girls’ Camp is a training program designed to incorporate both STEM principles and project-based learning opportunities; so that participants acquire hands-on experiences with all that they learn. It is spearheaded by Lacel Technologies which is supported by US Mission and in partnership with organizations including; ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Women Tech-makers, Google Uganda, Zimba Women, Peace Corps and Akorion. The idea behind STEM is to empower girls with the knowledge of computer programming, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Health Life Choices skills. The STEM acronym is derived from the traditional STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Looking forward to more partnerships as we together innovate and develop solutions to address community challenges and positively impact the communities. These solutions are within us, let us all join in the effort and ignite the process.