Two Nigerian women, 2015 fellow Mercy Sosanya and 2016 Emerging Leader Chioma Ezedi, organized a two-day program, Girls Discover STEM, on August 26 and 27 at the American Corner in the Bauchi State Library. The program targeted girls from grades 7-11 who traditionally have not been encouraged to pursue STEM fields. Sixteen girls from five schools attended the event, acquiring basic STEM knowledge and skills through hands-on activities. “It was quite an exciting time as the girls were introduced to STEM. They were taught about the reasons why more girls and women are needed in STEM, and they were inspired by stories of great women who had excelled in STEM,” Mercy said, “such as Zaha Hadid, the world famous architect known for curves in building design and Dr. Alexa Canady, the first female and first African-American Neurosurgeon.”
During the program, the TechWomen fellow and Emerging Leader walked the girls through several science experiments, including building an electromagnet and inflating a balloon using sodium bicarbonate and vinegar. In addition, the girls brainstormed ideas to help with security concerns in Nigeria using STEM and presented their ideas to the group. They also learned basic coding and built a mobile application.
“The program was a huge success as many of the students who had initially indicated interest in non-STEM careers began to show interest by the end of the program. One student who wanted to study law eventually asked how she could include STEM in her future law career, and she was given an example of forensic law,” Mercy explained The program also engaged with parents and teachers. “One theme that rang through many of the questions was how we could amplify the impact and reach many more students with this program.” Mercy and Chioma hope to secure funding for the program to have a wider reach and implement it in schools throughout Nigeria.