Being able to successfully traverse the internet and the digital world is essential in today’s environment. However, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, approximately one-fifth of all employees in the information and communication technology sector are women in Nigeria. This means that men make up a chunk of individuals in the ICT field. This huge disparity influenced the STEM XX Nigeria initiative.
The STEMposium series is a dynamism of STEM XX Nigeria. STEM XX Nigeria’s project is organized by The Sapphires Development Initiative and sponsored by Theirworld. It ran from October 2022 until March 2023. At the end of STEM XX, 100 schoolgirls from 10 secondary schools in southwest Nigeria had been trained to be drivers of change in their communities. With a standard curriculum of STEM, SDGs, gender equality, civic rights, and responsibilities, these girls carried out mini-projects of their own. Out of the 10 mini projects, one stood out and was transformed into the STEMPOSIUM series.
The mini project (Stemposium) carried out by the STEM XX beneficiaries at Nawairudeen High School, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, was developed to reach out to more than hundreds of girls in rural areas all over Nigeria, not just southwest Nigeria.
This initiative was further cemented after the STEM webinar, Building an Inclusive STEM Community for the 21st Century, with Dr. Shyretha Brown in June 2023. Dr. Shy explained that STEM skills are transferrable, applicable, and essential at times like this. She also emphasized that black females should be encouraged to build STEM skills and networks.
To these effects, the STEMPOSIUM series began first in southwest Nigeria, again; however, in different secondary schools, with plans of expanding to other regions and states. One major difference about the series is that it was more practical than theoretical. The STEMPOSIUM series focused more on hands-on training. According to research, overcoming gender gaps like the one mentioned early on depends on early-stage, girl-focused interventions that foster this enthusiasm through adolescence and early adulthood. Thus, a major approach to bridging the gender gap in the digital space was to inspire the girls to dive into the STEM field with fun science experiments.
For this particular article, major emphasis would be drawn to one of the interesting science-related projects done in seven of the secondary schools visited. This project is called the Pressure Force Experiment. The schools where this experiment was conducted include; United CAC Grammar School, Akure; Eyinni Junior and Senior High Schools, Ibadan; Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, Akure; Molete Baptist College, Ibadan; NUT Secondary School, Ibadan; Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Catholic School, Oye Ekiti; and Covenant College, Ibadan. This pressure force experiment explains both Pascal’s and Boyle’s laws and their applications. According to Pascal’s law, any force applied to a confined fluid is transmitted uniformly in all directions throughout the fluid, regardless of the shape of the container. One of the applications of this experiment is in hydraulic lifts and pumps in the automobile industry, as well as the principle guiding squeezing a toothpaste tube.
Furthermore, it was exciting for the students to conduct this experiment with balloons, straws, etc. while explaining that pressure concentrated can do more than pressure spread out. The interest of these girls was further raised as they understood these laws were the guiding principles for producing water from the ground to their taps.
Indeed, equality in the STEM field is achievable with more females being groomed and trained to have keen interest in the field.
STEMposium series! Engineering STEM education in Nigeria!!!