The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, in partnership with Vacation Initiatives Science, Africa (VISA), has rolled out a four-day STEM fair, July 4–7, 2023, for Junior High School (JHS) students from thirteen (13) public schools.
The fair, under the theme “Science in Tents,” aims to expose underprivileged JHS students to various STEM disciplines through practical experiments and discussions, with the hope of inspiring them to pursue careers in STEM.
The event is showcasing hands-on experiments across various STEM disciplines, including robotics, microbiology, cell biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director, NMIMR addressing participating schools at the opening ceremony
During a short opening ceremony on the first day, Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director, NMIMR, indicated in her opening remarks that Noguchi, as an Institute with a core mandate to conduct research into communicable and non-communicable diseases of public health importance and passionate about capacity building, believes the STEM fair is a good step in the right direction. This fair, she said, will provide the requisite skills and stimulate the interest of the students to pursue careers in science as they progress academically.
“We want to make them know that STEM is very crucial. There are myths about STEM, and we want to use this opportunity to provide hands-on practice in the tents for them to have real practice of some of the things that usually go on in the laboratories. With support from our collaborators and exhibitors from Velthuis Lab from Princeton University, USA; MakersPlace (Robotics), Ghana; the Laboratory of Applied Evolutionary Biology from the University of Amsterdam Medical Centre; the Institute of Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh; Femafricamaths, Ghana; and the School of Engineering Sciences from the University of Ghana, we can demystify science to make it simple for them to embrace science”, Prof. Yeboah-Manu said.
Cross-section view of participating schools at the opening ceremony
She further explained that the world is heading in a direction where STEM is gradually becoming the order of the day and it is important to give the students the needed support and learning opportunities. According to her, this can only be achieved when stakeholders, people in academia and parents rally their full commitment and support behind this worthy cause.
Mr. Solomon Agbozo Bedu (Nene Bedu Opata Korley II), Director of Finance, VISA
Mr. Solomon Agbozo Bedu (Nene Bedu Opata Korley II), Director of Finance, VISA, who doubles as the Chief of Nkurakan in the Yilo Krobo Traditional Area, said that the STEM fair is put together to drive the passion for science in the students as they move on to the Senior Secondary School.
“This is to help them make an informed decision in choosing the kind of course they would want to read in senior high, which is an integral part of their education”, he added.
According to him, his outfit, although uncertain about how frequent this event can happen, has plans to roll out the STEM fair twice every year. This, he said, “is largely dependent on the available funds, which is a challenge the organization faces locally”.
Since its inception in 2018, the STEM fair has seen the involvement of about 1500 students from both the Eastern and Greater Accra regions of Ghana.
Miss. Odei-Amoani, founder of STEM Inclusion Ghana
Adding her voice, Miss. Odei-Amoani, founder of STEM Inclusion Ghana, indicated that there is a need to address the gender gap within STEM education. According to her, this fair will provide an equal platform for everyone to have practical experience in science outside the classroom.
“I believe that science should be made practical. It should not look far-fetched. Parents should encourage their female children to do more”, she added.
The schools that were present for the fair on the first day are; Amrahia AdMA JHS, Nkurakan Cluster of Schools, Airport Police Primary and JHS.
Some activity sessions on day one
Group photograph of Prof. Dorothy-Yaboah-Manu, Director, NMIMR, collaborators, coordinators and participating schools