By Amy Juelsgaard, Program Associate
During the last week of December 2016, TechWomen fellows in Lebanon organized STEM trainings for student leaders from four private schools to learn about manufacturing, electronics, mobile apps and renewable energy. Fellows from the 2014 TechWomen program, Sabine El Kahi, Petra Saab and Layal Zakhour, initiated the second phase of their project, Hands-on STEM, which aims to establish STEM clubs where students can explore different aspects of STEM in an interactive way, in addition to participating in field trips to tech companies and universities. “In total, 32 team leaders will be trained to go back and launch a club in their school. That club will have 20 members who will meet weekly to learn, build, explore and create projects,” Sabine said. “The project will reach around 200 students in the coming months over a minimum of 15 sessions.” To promote gender equality, the TechWomen fellows are ensuring that at least half of all club leaders are girls.
Through the clubs the students will participate in an inter-school competition, in which they will develop a project related to science, green energy, mobile apps, technology, hardware design or electronics. In addition to this competition, they will also participate in local and international competitions in an effort to improve their technical skills as well as soft skills.
Hands-on STEM was a recipient of the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) in 2015. Given its success during the first phase, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut is sponsoring the project to expand its reach, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. This year, in addition to working with the four private schools, the fellows will train student leaders from four public schools to establish STEM clubs. This is a significant increase from the previous phase, when the project only worked with four schools. “We also care about the continuity, which is why our training is just the beginning for them to go back and continue to engage more students in their club,” Sabine said, and later on, “clubs will compete among each other.”