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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

STEM took a turn this quarter with a focus on computer lessons, building boys’ and girls’ information technology skills for future use either in employment or business. Several groups rotate through the computer lab. Before each session participants are briefed on the lesson objectives followed by tutorials then a practical. On average there are 60 children and 70 youth who attend computer sessions a week.

Basic computing skills and using programs such as Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Mastering the basics is critical for the students to attain jobs. In usual Stepping Stones International’s style the computer lessons are combined with personal development. The children and young adults research topics on health, peer pressure, interviewing, resume writing, relationships and present the topics to their peers. The added value is that they have the opportunity to become more fluent in English while presenting.  

2019 computer lessons started off with a bang because the children learned about computer coding. This is the most exciting part to them as they get to see how animations and television programs for chlidren are created. Coding was introduced to them to show it is possible for them to choose coding career and can be done by everyone.

 At the end of the coding session, Thato (changed name), 15 years old jumped up and said, " I know what I want to be when I grow up, a coder!"  He continued as if the epiphany would never end, "I am going to make movies and code the characters and code their actions and code....everything!" 

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Grandmothers went geeky with the girls this quarter.  The Grannies are young at heart, wise and active in the village.  Stepping Stones International has guided 60 grandmothers to setting up support groups. The Grannies rallied and decided on making plastic hand bags as an income generation project. These are grandmothers who are taking care of their grandchildren in the village and struggling to acquire the basic needs for their families and their grandchildren.

Part of the objective of making recycled plastic hand bags is to clean up the environment by directly using materials that would otherwise be discarded. Not only are they discarded, but they’re often burnt, emitting harmful gases and pollutants into the atmosphere. This project was addressing the Sustainable Development Goal No.1 (no poverty) and 15 (lives on land).

After the grannies crocheted their handbags they sold them.  One of the grannies was happy to be part of this project, mentioning that it would help her buy electricity at her house because it has been a while since she had the lights on.

The products will be sold in the north of Botswana where there is high toursit traffic. In addition SSI is looking for a market in the U.S. to sell the handbags for the grandmothers.. 

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Highlights of the six week program with 12- 14 year olds 

 

The Pop Fly! Challenge

The focus of this session was to engage participants in an open-ended activity which encourages them to see engineering as a creative problem solving technique / approach that the ‘every day’ person is able to use. Participants were also introduced to the design process and how to apply it to their first hands-on activity. 

The purpose of this session was for students to learn how to design a device that can launch a ping pong ball and hit a target.

                                             

Helping Hand Challenge

The session focused on the following concept: In order to grab something a device needs two arts or arms that can go on each side of the item being grabbed. The grabber also needs to have a way to press the two arms together to make a pinching motion. Participants were shown different levers (tongs and scissors) pointing out that each device is a lever, with a fulcrum and arms. 

Participants were then tasked with using materials (mentioned above, including split pins) to design and build their lever or ‘helping hand’. Their lever needed to be strong enough to be used to reach and lift a plastic bag (filled with sweets) off a hook placed above head height and hold onto the bag. 

 

Safe Landing Challenge 

The purpose of this design is to create an object that can protect a container so it’s not damaged when dropped to the ground.  

During this session, the participants focused on strengthening their understanding of the design process by focusing on the brainstorming and design steps. The participants discovered ways to design a shock absorbing system protect a container as it drops to the floor. 

Participants were exploring gravity, air resistance and how works to lessen the impact of a fall parachutes. 

The participants also learned that safe landing designs help in situations where the only way people can receive food, medicine and other essential supplies is by dropping them from the plane.

                                                      

 

The Seismic Shake-up Challenge 

This session focused on the having the participants design a structure that can withstand an earthquake.

 After the recent small earthquakes that have been happening in Botswana the participants were glad to know that there are designs that can actually prevent damages. 

The participants designed a structure that has a bit of space underneath the house foundation. They mentioned that this helps prevent the house from falling apart.  

   

"We should leave some space under the house to prevent it from cracking up or falling   apart."

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Stepping Stones International's STEM participants decided, rather than matching clubs one-on-one with a new exploratory project, to invite all partners to share their projects with the STEM community on Facebook. This presents multiple opportunities for SSI's club to explore what clubs are doing in places from around the world.

STEM participants will be sharing their “partner exchanges,” which includes photos and videos from their sessions, on social media. Please join the existing Design Squad Global (DSG) Club Facebook Group to see more.

Please find attached a summary of the 2017 DSG challenges.  Included are pictures of participants engaged in their projects and quotes throughout the creative process.    

The next six week session will begin the13th of April and run through the15th of June. We look forward to sharing our future learning and creations with our donors and greatest supporters who make these opportuies possible!


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                                                       Design Squad Global: Technopolis Partnership                                                                       

Partner Project

The participants of the Design Squad partnered with a science house in Belgium named Technopolis. The participants selected three Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that they would like to focus on for the final project. Teams explained to their partner club, in writing, how the project reflected the demands in their community, as well as, the reasons these topics were important. Stepping Stones International (SSI) participants selected the SDG number 3 (good health and well being), 15 (life on land) and 4 (quality education).

                                                                                               

The partners shared their selected SDG’s and agree to one. They agreed to number 15 (life on land) under which they had to carry out interviews in the community to discover how can they as young help people stay safe?

                                    

The interviews revealed that people in Botswana are exposed to a lot of sun and heat. This is compunded by people tossing decaying trash, such as fruit peels, leaves and food anywhere, causing an unpleasant smell.

Using the design process, SSI participants created a fan cap that would provide shade to people walking in the sun. They made a normal cap and little paper fan which they secured to the front of the cap. As a person walks, the fan works like a windmill and blows a breeze on that person’s face, while the cap simultaneously provides shade.

                                                             

The second design was a land fill model. Participants collected all the trash that was scattered around the public areas; layer by layer they put them into a container adding soil and water to each layer. After some days, the trash decomposed and was used as composed manure.

Graduation

After the participants had completed all their projects and shared solutions with their partner club in Belgium, they graduated. During the graduation, the participants were awarded certificates.

                               

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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
$8,121 raised of $10,000 goal
 
121 donations
$1,879 to go
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