Guest post by 2015 fellows of Nigeria
In October 2015, it was to our delight to have been announced as one of the top action plans of the TechWomen pitch event. We were happy to have won amongst a lot of really great pitches and ideas from the other Emerging Leaders (ELs). We’d certainly come a long way from our first meeting one evening in August in Lagos, Nigeria, prior to the 2015 program.
Before coming up with the final project, we had gone through different ideas based on our different passions and interests. As we continued to brainstorm, it was evident that education and STEM seemed to be a common theme. After quite a bit of back and forth, we finally settled on STEM-In-A-Box. Our motivation for this project was to promote accessibility for students in secondary schools with limited science resources and to help teachers deliver quality lessons while teaching basic science and technology subjects. Learning science without resources poses a challenge as it creates a disconnect between what students are taught and what they experience.
We sought an innovative way to bridge that gap between learning and doing, and that’s how Stem-In-A-Box was born! Stem-In-A-Box is a portable, handy box customized to complement the delivery of science lessons in junior secondary schools in Nigeria. Styled in the form of a “portable lab” with carefully curated resources, this would provide a more affordable and scalable way to help students improve their learning.
Winning the pitch meant this didn’t have to remain an idea, but with the $2,500 grant, we could begin to take steps to actualize this project. Once we had all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, we got down to business.
Our first activity was to conduct background research to review the secondary school curriculum and identify possible gaps and resources teachers might need but not have access to. We then tested this assumption by going to the teachers directly. We had surveys sent to eight secondary schools, including public and private schools, across three different cities. This provided first-hand insight into what teachers required, as well as helped validate some of our assumptions.
What’s in the box?
Based on the data we gathered, we determined exactly what the box should hold. Deciding on the content meant striking a balance between usefulness, impact and cost-effectiveness. We came up with a list of items, including thermometers, beakers, a solar kit, magnets, scientific charts and a microscope, among a few other items.
After concluding a lot of the ground work, we’re now in the process of purchasing and putting together the box, which will be distributed in five secondary schools in three different states across Nigeria. As part of the pilot, we will have two schools in Lagos, two in Bauchi and one in Osun state; these represent the northern and southwestern part of the country. As the first half of the year comes to an end, we look ahead to the second half with excitement. In the next three weeks, we get set to ship our first set of boxes!