STEM initiative scours Ghana for brightest young scientists

Surrounded by her classmates, Amma conducts an experiment to test the pH level of her three favorite foods – rice, tom brown and ice cream – for a science project.

She carefully pours each item into a beaker and tests them one by one, talking her audience through the process while the camera filming her, pans between her and her unfolding experiment. Amma loves science and when she’s older, she wants to find a cure for cancers. She is one of thousands of Junior High School (JHS) [1] students in Ghana living out their ambitions in the month-long Junior Experimenters Of Science (JUNEOS) Challenge, which launched today (20 August 2018).

The JUNEOS Challenge is a national science initiative, devised by Ghanaian and Nigerian-based media organisation WeGo Innovate to improve provision of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in Ghana and across sub-Saharan Africa. It also feeds into one of Ghana’s United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to increase the number of science students in the country’s technical institutions by a minimum of 60% [2].

“Boosting STEM education is important for the growth of any nation because it provides relevant and real-world exposure to important math, science, technology and engineering concepts, while also preparing children for the future needs of our society,” said WeGo Innovate Founder Charles Agbemashior.”

Teaching through innovation Teachers in Ghana are one of the key conduits through which the next generation learns and feels inspired to use that knowledge to make a difference in their world. Everyone remembers the teacher that inspired them, and WeGo Innovate wants to build on that empowering influence by giving teachers the tools, training, and resources to get the very best out of their students.

This is why the JUNEOS Challenge is building on the existing work of NGOs such as Ghana Association of Science Teachers (GAST), the Ghana STEM Network, GhScientific, and The Exploratory, to harness more practical ways of teaching that incorporate video technology and enhance classroom interactivity.

The Ghana STEM Network, said: “Members of the Ghana STEM Network are excited about the JUNEOS Challenge as it places students and teachers in the center as content creators – something that very few programmes consider.”

“Students are naturally brilliant and when motivated their potential is limitless,” said Dr Thomas Amatey Tagoe, Co-founder of GhScientific.

“Now within education, it is well known that if you challenge a motivated student, they will surprise you every single time. This is what the JUNEOS Challenge is doing – motivating and challenging students. At GhScientific, we love it when students surprise us and that is why we are proud partners of this exciting initiative.” Dr Connie Chow, Founder and Director of The Exploratory, said:

“The Exploratory is thrilled to join the JUNEOS Challenge to showcase the ingenuity of students and teachers to provide social proof that STEM teaching and learning can be interesting and relevant, and to break the myth about who can do, talk and belong in STEM.”

Nana Yaa Serwaa Sarpong, Channel Manager at Joy Prime, Multimedia Group Ltd, said: “For TV to stay relevant to the needs of its audience, it must be aligned to the people’s visions. “We must be 100% responsive to the call to support impactful projects such as the JUNEOS Challenge, which thrives on a vision to simplify STEM to younger generations and JOY PRIME is here to steer this course.”

The process Participating in the JUNEOS Challenge is simple. Schools share experiments conducted in their classroom based on the national science curriculum and send their experiments either as photographs or a one-minute video. After the 14 September deadline, the first round of shortlisting starts, Shortlisted experiments undergo a second round of judging process in which the experiments are filmed. These videos will be aired on Ghanaian TV stations, including Joy Prime, at the end of October for the public to watch their favourite experiments and vote. Voting is simple, vote for the coolest, most intriguing experiment that clearly showcases how this experiment has a real-life application.

Winners receive great cash rewards and science equipment designed to support innovation in the classroom.

To compete in this exciting challenge, visit www.wegoinnovate.org and check out our YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh9Hs3DTNN8.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @WeGoInnovate for regular updates and let’s get the #Gh4STEM hashtag trending.