On September 26, 2023, The Sapphires Development Initiative carried out a STEM Fair, which was an expanded version of the STEMPOSIUM series. This STEM Fair was carried out at Community High School, Okua, Osun State, Nigeria. With about 17 tutors, over 100 male and female students were introduced to STEM, its essence, and the individual roles necessary for driving change in communities.
Two of the four tenets of TSDI are literacy and impact. In achieving this, our main focus is on rural and marginalized individuals. Thus, our outreach to a rural area in the southwest of Nigeria on a project of a larger scale.
The STEM Fair was divided into four parts (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), with the students choosing their areas of interest. Beforehand, Oluwaferanmi Afolabi, the project manager of TSDI, introduced the organization and encouraged students to be keen on learning one or two things about STEM. She explained what every term stood for, what would be learned in that sphere, and who their facilitators were. After this, students broke up into teams to be educated on STEM.
The science team had Olumuyiwa Ifeoluwa, Akinyemi Faith, Orobiyi Ayomikun, Adenigbagbe Precious-Gold and Ayobami Martins as facilitators. Among the activities carried out are water dispensers, air pressure, and volcano eruption experiments. The principles guiding these fun science experiments were well explained to the students. The water dispenser experiment effectively explains the principles of gravity, pressure, and the essence of recycling in achieving sustainable development, while the air pressure experiment explains the principles behind atmospheric pressure and potential energy. Then, the volcano eruption explains the resultant effect between acid and alkali.
The technology team had video editing, graphics design, and coding as the activities learned. One major outcome of this team is the hands-on experience the students recorded. The facilitators (Inioluwa Ogunkeye, Busola Fagbenro, Michael Ajayi, and Oluwafunmilayo Ajakaiye) ensured that every student in the different sections had an understanding of the basic usage of Canva, Capcut, and sublime text necessary for these digital skills. Making flyers on phones, creating videos of fellow students, performing different mathematical operations, and displaying personal biodata on computers were some of the highlights the students were proud to share at the end of the fair.
Augustine Olaore, Emmanuel Maxwell, Abimbola Odunoiki, and Timilehin Adeshina were the facilitators for the engineering team. Constructing a simple electric circuit was the major activity in this group. Using Ohm’s law to explain the relationship between current, voltage, and resistance and how this translates into home fuses and electrical home appliances, the facilitators and students built and powered a carton house. The students were taught how to connect a simple electric circuit and differentiate between the terminals of the LED bulbs and the cell. They were also taught how to control the circuits with a switch. However, Simon, one of the facilitators, explained the essence of students, especially females, diving into engineering. He explained the global need, the national need, and the potential of being an engineering guru at this time. He encouraged them to think far and wide and not limit their interest to just electrical engineering.
Then, for the mathematics team, the students learned about the secret sum and the multiplication square box. For both activities, understanding that a keen and wholesome understanding of mathematics helps understand the world better was a turning point. Students understood that the secret sum project of constructing angles and smaller circles subtly explains how energy cannot be totally lost; we find a smaller atom and an even smaller atom in the tiniest particles. The multiplication square box helped to understand how to regulate a certain pattern to achieve positive results. The facilitators for this team were Binuyo Jesutofunmi, Femi Adeyemi, Awe Tolani, and Adebiyi Inioluwa.
In the end, the project’s aim was achieved. More marginalized secondary school students were trained with the basic knowledge of STEM. This training transformed their mindsets to be further invested in a future in education and STEM. A major highlight was the feedback gotten from the females in the engineering team, who were at first reluctant to focus because of gender bias. They recorded that they were excited to participate, and engineering is an interesting field they might venture into. Additionally, being inspired to be different (even in STEM) from the others was something about 60 participants mentioned in their individual groups. The creations from the STEM Fair were given to the school to place strategically around the school premises to constantly remind the students that STEM truly engineers change in their communities.