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Dec 26, 2019

3rd Annual Yiya Technology & Innovation Showcase!

Engineer Sheeba measuring materials
Engineer Sheeba measuring materials

Ugandan Government joins Yiya's 3rd Annual Technology & Innovation Showcase in Lira, Uganda!

Uganda's Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) joined Yiya last month for Yiya's 3rd Annual Science & Technology Showcase to celebrate World Science Day 2019 in Lira, Uganda

At the event, 300 high school students from 8 schools showcased technologies designed to solve challenges in their local communities.

Mr Basil Ajer, the Technopreneurship Director at MOSTI, was the guest of honor. He commended students on their innovations and inspired them to keep designing new technologies! He also affirmed MOSTI’s collaboration with Yiya and expressed the hope to expand the engineering program into more schools throughout Uganda.
 
Yiya’s Annual Technology & Innovation Showcase is a chance for partner schools to share what they have learned about the engineering design process by demonstrating the technologies they’ve designed to solve problems in their local communities. Technologies showcased included: an eco-friendly refrigerator, grey water recycling system, vertical farm prototype, mosquito-repellent lotions, Arduino-controlled egg incubators, responsive door alarm systems, and many more!

View the program booklet for the event here.

Science Day Parade!

This year's showcase kicked off with a parade in downtown Lira, led by a speech from Mr. Arthur Makara, the Commissioner for Science, Technology, and Innovation Advancement & Outreach at MOSTI, and Mr Samson Wambuzi, Yiya Cofounder and Director of Operations.

Knowledge is potential.

Mrs Frances Offungi, the Lira District Education Officer, gave the opening speech. She told students, “People used to say that knowledge is power. But that is no longer true. Nowadays, knowledge is only potential. You have to put knowledge into skills and action in order for it to be powerful! This is what Yiya is teaching you to do in their engineering program.”

An inspiring judging panel

We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to the experts who donated their time to judge the teams' technologies: 

On-the-spot Challenge

After judges toured the technologies in the exhibition hall, students were challenged to design a new technology on-the-spot to solve the problem of the back breaking and time consuming work of pumping water from wells in Ugandan villages. Teams developed innovative prototypes, such as a see-saw that kids could use to pump water more quickly, with less effort, strain, and injury, while also having a bit of fun!

Support & Partnerships

Countless individuals and many organizations supported Yiya's 2019 Showcase! We want to especially thank the following partners:

Time for holiday shopping?

If you do your Amazon shopping on smile.amazon.comand select Yiya Solutions, Inc as your designated charity, Amazon will donate $5 to Yiya for every $100 you spend! Click here to spread the holiday cheer.

Judges talking to teams about their prototypes
Judges talking to teams about their prototypes
World Science Day parade!
World Science Day parade!
Explaining their eco-friendly refrigerator
Explaining their eco-friendly refrigerator
Judge talking to teams
Judge talking to teams
Judges compiling their scores!
Judges compiling their scores!

Links:

Sep 25, 2019

Engineering a better world!

Students learning basic electronics
Students learning basic electronics

Introduction

The Yiya team has had a very busy quarter! We welcomed our newest team member, ran a capacity-building training for our field team, taught an engineering unit in Term 2 with our Yiya partner teachers and students, hosted a visitor from GlobalGiving, and taught an engineering camp for a local community center. Yiya was also honored by the Obama Foundation and the US Embassy to Uganda!

Introducing Sheeba Niwensiima!

From Mbarara, western Uganda, Sheeba is a young innovator and a community activist who earned her Bachelors in Computer Engineering at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. She is deeply passionate about how technology can positively transform communities, with experience both as a Tech Educator in Robotics and a tutor for embedded systems.  She also works on various project teams as the technical personnel some of which are in partnership with CAMTech Uganda. Sheeba is the Innovations Fellow at Yiya, and we are so thrilled to have her on the team!

Yiya mini boot camp

This spring, we conducted a 2-day bootcamp to adequately prepare our field team to be able to effectively conduct our Term 2 STEM unit in our partner schools in northern Uganda.  

The boot camp helped our team to discover everyone’s strength and weakness and develop concrete steps for how to support one another in the field. Members practiced lessons in the Term 2 STEM unit (making bicycle powered phone chargers) to receive feedback from each other about their facilitation skills. By the end of the training, everyone had created a clear plan for how to team-teach Term 2 lessons in the field. Want to learn more about the bootcamp? Click here to see the agenda

Term 2, Classroom teaching support:  Making bicycle powered phone chargers, STEM unit

Why this unit?

We designed this unit for students to apply the knowledge they learn in class from science and mathematics subjects to design a technology that will enable local people from villages in northern Uganda charge their phones or torch batteries off the grid by simply pedaling their bicycles. This is a major step towards helping people from over 75% villages in Uganda that have no access to electricity power their basic household devices easily and inexpensively. Cars may be scarce in rural Uganda but every family has a bicycle!

The underlying goal of this unit is to empower students to view themselves as engineers who have the knowledge and skills to design technologies that solve problems faced by their communities.

How the teaching went

We implemented this unit in all our partner schools on a total of 300 students. Each of these 300 students were challenged to train 2 of their peers at school on how to create the technology of the bicycle powered phonecharger as a requirement for certification at the end of the year. 

All our selected students received engineering journals (STEM booklets that we design for students to do research and to record their ideas during experimentation) and a set of engineering materials (1N0047 Rectifier diodes, resistors, capacitors, 7805 Voltage regulators, jumper wires, breadboards, PCB boards, dynamos, etc)

Once every week, at a time scheduled on the school timetabled by school administrators, our team went and co-taught this unit with teachers at partner schools. 

Find here an overview about all lessons in our bicycle powered phone charger unit.

Leena’s visit

In July, we were also honored to have a field traveler from GlobalGiving, called Leena, come to visit us to see our team in action. Leena had a meeting with our Director of Operations in Kampala to learn more about Yiya and to make a plan for traveling to the field up in Northern Uganda to observe STEM lessons in partner schools.

She observed Yiya STEM classes at two partner schools: Leo Atubo College, and St. Katherine Girls Secondary School. Leena was so impressed by our REAL teaching methodology. She also liked the passion that students in our program, particularly girls, have for science. In her focus group discussions with girls at St. Katherine's, one student Rebecca, told her that before Yiya came to their school she never liked science subjects and couldn’t easily understand certain concepts but now she finds science very interesting. Rebecca now wants to be an electrical engineer!

Community center engineering camp

In Aug and Sept, we ran an engineering camp for high school students at a local community center that supports underserved students on the outskirts of Kampala. In Uganda, Aug and Sept are the months of school break between Term 2 and Term 3. This is a crucial time for students to receive additional educational support through exciting enrichment camps and skills trainings. Many at-risk students come from families with few means to send them to these kind of educational camps so we here at Yiya were thrilled to be invited to run an engineering camp at the community center over this school holiday break for their secondary students! The community center requested that we teach the bicycle-powered phone charger unit (by far our most popular engineering unit!) to a group of 40 of their students, who could then provide financial support to their families through using their phone chargers to generate income. The Yiya trainers and students had a great time over the course of the 3 week camp and at the end, the students did a formal showcase of their technologies to other students at the community center. So many students in the showcase audience were excited about the bicycle-powered phone chargers that the students in the Yiya camp had to promise to teach everyone how to make them! The highlight of the showcase was when each team of students plugged their phone charger into the phone, started pedaling the bike, and the battery symbol lit up. The phone was charging! Everyone cheered! It was so exciting.

Yiya honored by the Obama Foundation and the US Embassy in Uganda

Last but certainly not least, Yiya Director of Operations and Co-Founder Samson Wambuzi was honored as a 2019 Obama Africa Fellow. He attended the Obama Africa Convening in Johannesburg, South Africa in July, where he met the other 2019 fellows and a number of inspirational leaders and mentors. He even had a 1-on-1 mentoring session with Ben Rhodes, Mr. Obama's former speech writer! Samson continues to learn valuable leadership skills during the monthly meetings that he has with members of his Obama Africa cohort.

This September, Yiya received the 2019 US Ambassador's Special Self Help Fund grant from the US Embassy in Uganda. At the award ceremony, Yiya Co-Founders Erin and Samson met the US Ambassador Dr Deborah Malac who appreciated the Yiya team for having 61% girls in our engineering program! We are very grateful to the Ambassador, the US Embassy, and the US government for supporting our Yiya teachers and students to continue engineering solutions for their communities!

What's Next for Yiya?

In Uganda, Term 3 of the school year has just begun! Our field team is working hard to ensure that all students at our partner schools are ready for the 2019 Annual Yiya STEM Showcase which will be held for the Lira community on November 9th. Our partner schools will spend the rest of September and all of October putting the final touches on their technologies in preparation for the showcase. We are inviting parents, community members, and many special guests from government, private companies, nearby nonprofits, and local universities to come join us for this big annual event!

Law of Conservation of Energy using a pendulum!
Law of Conservation of Energy using a pendulum!
Our new Yiya Innovations Fellow, Sheeba Niwensiima
Our new Yiya Innovations Fellow, Sheeba Niwensiima
Field team practicing how to teach the Term 2 unit
Field team practicing how to teach the Term 2 unit
Samson at Obama Africa Convening in South Africa
Samson at Obama Africa Convening in South Africa
Erin & Samson with US Ambassador Malac
Erin & Samson with US Ambassador Malac
May 22, 2019

Energizing the classroom and making learning REAL!

Tower brainstorming!
Tower brainstorming!

 

In late March, we ran a mid-term teacher training for our partner teachers in Lira District. This training was designed to help teachers reflect on how the Yiya teaching checklist has impacted their teaching, as well as to give teachers a chance to learn and practice new strategies for a relevant, hands-on, collaborative, and learner-centered classroom, a classroom with R-E-A-L learning!

The Global Teacher Prize!

A week prior to this workshop, Mr. Peter Tabichi, a teacher from our neighborhood Kenya, was honored with the Global Teacher Prize. We were so excited! The very best teacher in the world is one of our neighbors and even more importantly, he teaches in a similarly rural and low-resourced setting as our partner teachers in Northern Uganda! We joined the rest of East African teachers in celebrating Mr. Tabichi and shared Peter’s story with our teachers. We opened our mid-term workshop by playing the award ceremony video for our teachers, reading about Mr. Tabichi’s teaching strategies, and discussing how to become champion teachers like Mr. Tabichi in our own classrooms! It was inspiring for everyone!

Making learning RELEVANT

The first section of the Yiya teaching checklist is RELEVANT. As part of transforming their lessons to be relevant, we ask teachers to design clear lesson objectives as part of their lesson preparation, and to strategize how they will share their lesson objectives with students in class during the lesson. During this workshop, we reminded teachers how to design very strong lesson objectives by reviewing Bloom’s Taxonomy, emphasizing that teachers use strong action verbs to create lesson objectives that challenge students and help them grow. In this activity, teachers worked in groups to design lesson objectives for lessons they will teach in Term 1, which use verbs from at least 3 different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Lesson objectives BEFORE the workshop:

  • Students will know Newton’s 3rd law of motion.

  • Student will understand the importance of enzymes to human digestion.

  • Students will learn the history of cross-continent trade routes.

Lesson objectives AFTER the workshop:

  • Students will demonstrate Newton’s 3rd law of motion using everyday household objects.

  • Students will explain the function of enzymes in human digestion and provide examples of what would happen WITHOUT enzymes.

  • Students will debate the historical effects of cross-continent trade routes on the present day economies of at least two African countries.

This second set of objectives has action verbs so that students need to do something to show they have mastered the content. These second objectives also are very specific, which is important for students to stay focused and know exactly what they are supposed to learn in a lesson.

In this activity, teachers also planned how they would communicate lesson objectives to students during the lesson. In Uganda’s traditional classroom setting, teachers don’t share lesson objectives. The teacher is the only one that knows why a lesson is being taught or what students will learn in the lesson. But at Yiya, we’ve found that sharing lesson objectives with students at the beginning of the lesson helps them to stay more focused and holds teachers accountable during class time. Students are also happier in class when they know what they are learning and why! Strategies that teachers planned to use to share lesson objectives with students included:

  1. Reading the lesson objectives aloud to students at the beginning of the lesson

  2. Writing the lesson objectives on a flipchart and asking a volunteer to read them.

  3. Writing the lesson objectives on the top right corner of the chalkboard so students can reference them throughout the lesson.

The other best practice that we trained teachers on during this workshop was how to use games and creative student appreciations in class to keep energy levels high, to motivate students, and to help student master certain content. Teachers learned that when you play games with students, they become more engaged in class, lesson content is reinforced, and class positivity is increased! Teachers worked in groups to invent 1 new game and 1 form of appreciation that they committed to use in an upcoming lesson at their school. We challenged teachers to design games that followed two simple criteria:

  1. The game should be related somehow to the content for that particular lesson.
  2. The game should be played for max 3 minutes.
Trying out strategies and receiving feedback

After all the design work, teachers practiced their new strategies with each other in teams, and gave each other constructive feedback. Each teacher conducted a 5-minute lesson in which they demonstrated the lesson objectives for that lesson, how they will share the lesson objectives with students, the game they will play to emphasize lesson content and keep energy high, and the way they will uniquely appreciate students in the classroom. Teachers were excited to receive feedback on their plans from their colleagues and the Yiya trainers!

Reflecting on their learning

We ended the action-packed day the way we end every Yiya workshop: by asking our teachers to gather together in a reflection circle and share what has been most useful to them, and what they will do differently in the classroom after this training. Ms. Paula, a biology teacher from St. Katherine Secondary School shared that this workshop helped her discover how teaching checklists can make a huge impact in the classroom and urged her colleagues to keep using the Yiya teaching checklist. She further added that “when we (teachers) use the checklist, learning will be so joyful.” Mr. Otim Ambrose, a teacher of agriculture from Archbishop Orombi Secondary School commented that he liked how we reminded them of Bloom’s Taxonomy and trained them on its real application.

Building their tower
Building their tower
explaining their tower design
explaining their tower design
Discussing Bloom's Taxonomy
Discussing Bloom's Taxonomy
Lesson planning
Lesson planning
Sharing strategies
Sharing strategies

Links:

 
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