STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky

by Stepping Stones International
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
STEM Education in Botswana: Girls Getting Geeky
Creative Thinking with New Participants
Creative Thinking with New Participants

2020 was a very difficult year for the world affecting us economically and psychosocially. The children and families at Stepping stones International were especially affected in lock down with schools closed, jobs halted and family violence increased. Our psychosocial support staff and community service providers visited and assessed more than 200 households and children during the national lockdowns. SSI provided homework packets, referrals to clinical services and counselling services.  More than 50% of the families needed immediate attention and support.

It is in this light that Stepping Stones International reassessed our services and is moving to become more digital and environmentally friendly. This quarter SSI has focused on identifying a case management system to better track and manage our clients, a new server and cloud for improving our knowledge management and creating policies and guidelines to become more ‘green’.  The children have started to recycle and SSI is investigating solar panels given the frequent electricity interruptions.

Furthermore, this quarter we recruited more adolescents from households in need, especially those highly affected by gender-based violence, child-neglect and poverty. We recruited 64 adolescents from different schools including primary and junior schools, giving us a total of 120 adolescents attending after school services daily. These adolescents are offered nutritional meals daily at the centre, counselling, life skills and educational activities including tutoring and English literacy lessons. They are also offered transport from school to the centre and to their homes every day.  The services are being included in the digital system to better serve the child’s and family’s specific needs.

The new recruits are being enrolled in a STEM program in collaboration with Destination Imagination, which will be reported on next quarter.

Learning Basics of Computer Use
Learning Basics of Computer Use
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VR girl photo-1
VR girl photo-1

Learning and Experiencing with VR – National Park Experience

Participants explored a national park by using virtual reality (VR) headsets. These headsets provide a ‘real’ experience for the youth. The main objectives of the sessions were to:

  • Explore through virtual field trips – Participants learned about and saw different animals that they had never seen before. For some of the youth this was the first time they experienced a national park. They encountered different species of animals, learned their behaviours and what they eat. Participants also absorbed the beautiful landscapes, hills, vegetation, oceans and water waves. Furthermore, the participants also went on a field trip with the United States army, on a mission.
  • Bring science to life – Participants also experienced flight and roller coaster simulators. A roller coaster application was used to illustrate potential and kinetic energy, as well as the forces involved in a roller coaster. This activity also helped in building their motor skills as they had to balance during the activity.
  • Help fight phobias – VR was used to demonstrate how someone who prevoiusly had a fear of heights, could experience liberation after being exposed to heights in the virtual setting – They even got to experience the joy of a roller coaster! By overcoming fear, participants gain more confidence and courage to face challenges in other areas of their lives too. The VR experience emphasised how life’s challenges, fears, and “phobias” can first seem like  limitations, however are really opportunities to grow and learn how to cope with fears.
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Young artists at work
Young artists at work

Maxx Moses also known as Pose2 paid a visit to Stepping Stones International to inspire students, teaching them self-expression through art.Pose 2, based in San Diego is a professional and an innovator within the graffiti and street art industry. “The artwork of Mr. Maxx Moses promotes an environment of longevity, growth, wholeness, and spiritual well-being. The viewer is instilled with an overall feeling of peace and serenity as they derive the value of his paintings”.https://posetwo.com/ 

The day activity started with painting two walls at SSI with a message of hope and love. His main message to the children was that artistic expression has various mental health benefits, especially adolescents that are going through so much growing up. Maxx told students that they can channel their anger, stress or sadness and transform it to something else artistically.

Educators were also taught the importance of moving away from traditional teaching methods of ‘four walls of the classroom’, and encourage students to express themselves through art as it sparks creativity in young minds leading to many innovations. Stepping Stones international extended an invitation to four local schools to send some art students to join the session. He was joined by students and educators from surround schools and painted two murals. The children who painted learned how to free their minds and decompress while painting. 

The day culminated in the children at SSI sharing a song and their talents with Maxx Moses in honor of his birthday… and of course, the delicious cupcakes with American flags.

We hope Maxx Moses visits again to inspire us. In the meantime, the youth at SSI plan to use graffiti for sending out messages to cut down on gender based violence, especially against children.

Special thanks to the US Embassy in Botswana, in collaboration with Young Africa Botswana for organizing the ‘America on the Move’ project that brought Maxx Moses to Botswana.

Birthday Wishes and Sharing of Talent wIth Maxx
Birthday Wishes and Sharing of Talent wIth Maxx
FInished Product and Pose2
FInished Product and Pose2
The Crew with Maxx Aka Pose2
The Crew with Maxx Aka Pose2
US Ambassador Cloud, Maxx Moses & SSI staff
US Ambassador Cloud, Maxx Moses & SSI staff
Maxx hanging with the children
Maxx hanging with the children
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The perma-garden methodology is an economic strengthening activity for caregivers and parents of the orphaned and vulnerable children. This allows for them to produce food throughout the year by teaching them the natural principles behind productive gardening and matching those principles to best practices. This allows them to feed their families independently and produce for the market to earn an income.

Designing the garden

These plots are made in way that water use is limited. The soil holds moisture for a long time since the mix of ingredients supports the soil to produce enough carbon. The caregivers first measure the garden to the size they want and turn over the dirt. They add manure, wood ashes, pounded egg shells, add fertilizer and cover up with the soil. The next stage is the building of ridges in the garden then more lightly sprinkled charcoal, pounded egg shells and fertilizer is added on top. After maintaining this for a few days the caregivers plant their seeds of choice. The carbon is important also for the growth of plants.

Benefits

A total of 189 (Female 99; Male 90) were reached with this evidence based food security design. This includes the caregivers and their children who have been impacted by the gardens. Our families sell these vegetables to benefit them economically. When marketing the produce they also use the sales point as a place to impart information on nutrition.


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Mixing it Up
Mixing it Up

The MoCookie Company (Mochudi Cookie) is part of Stepping Stones International Income Generation Program, where the participants build their own companies and learn about marketing strategies and the meaning of entrepreneurship. The company bakes every Friday and sells the cookies, traditionally oats and raisins cookies to the staff, participants and/or visitors at the centre. The objective is, besides experiencing what it’s like to be part of a company with spending, and profits, is to give the participants a space where they can learn about production, where they can improve their concentration, efficiency and cooperation skills in a team work space, being the kitchen. The German Embassy donated an oven for baking cookies in mass. SSI has approached Holiday Garden Inn who are interested in selling the cookies in the shop. The MoCookie Company needs to look into packaging and marketing. The children participating in the MoCookie Company are experiencing a form of success and self efficiency in a different environment than in school, where they need to use their creativity, analytical skills and learn business. A lot of these participants come from economically challenged homesteads, so the funds they raise from the cookie company will be shared at the end of year and they will use the funds to purchase their own basic needs, for example, a school uniform or shoes.

Cookie Making Process
Cookie Making Process
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Organization Information

Stepping Stones International

Location: Salt Lake Cty, UT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SteppingStonesIntl
Project Leader:
Lisa Jamu
Salt Lake Cty, UT United States
$9,335 raised of $10,000 goal
 
148 donations
$665 to go
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