Young Scientists Kenya national science and technology expo set for July in Nairobi

Final preparations are in high gear ahead of the inaugural Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) National Science and Technology Exhibition, which is set to take place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on July 5 – 6, 2018.

Young Scientists Kenya is a platform for young people to demonstrate their innovation and showcase their scientific talents.  In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Ireland and BLAZE by Safaricom among others, the programme was launched in July 2017 and is currently in its pilot phase, which has seen it work with 80 schools in 10 counties in Kenya.

(TOP: L-R – YSK Board Chair, Kevit Desai; CS Education, Amina Mohammed; Safaricom Head of CSR Sandra Ojiambo and Irish Ambassador to Kenya Vincent O’Neill during the launch of Young Scientist Kenya National technology and Exhibition).

Over 160 secondary school students are expected to participate in the event, with 92 projects submitted in the country’s first Science and Technology exhibition in line with this year’s theme: Making STEM Education Accessible to All.

Approximately 5,000 guests from the public and private sectors, academia and the international community are expected to attend the exhibition, whose opening ceremony will be officiated by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Speaking at a press briefing this morning, the Irish Ambassador, Dr. Vincent O’Neill said he was pleased with the progress made in the year since the launch of the programme, which YSK hopes to roll out nationwide over the next two to three years.

“Since our launch in 2017, we have had tremendous success in reaching out to schools and students in various parts of the country. Our aim is to build on this momentum to shatter myths about STEM subjects being difficult or boring, and to ensure that students with the interest and acumen for these subjects get equal opportunities to learn and excel in them,” said Ambassador O’Neill.

The YSK programme complements the ministry’s efforts to spur uptake of STEM among high school students, through the annual Kenya Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF), formerly known as the Secondary Schools Science Congress.

“Kenya is already known as an African innovation hub. This exhibition will help us cultivate an even stronger culture of innovation by tapping into the curious minds, passion and creativity of Kenyan youth right from high school level. Currently, we are planning the roll-out of STEM model schools in 47 counties, an initiative that will widen access to quality education in these subjects that are critical to the development of our country,” said Dr. Amina Mohammed, Education Cabinet Secretary.

YSK has since March this year visited all 80 schools in the 10 pilot counties, engaging students and teachers and positioning STEM subjects as not only cool, but also central to day to day life.

“This exhibition is an opportunity to showcase not just to Kenya, but to the rest of the world, what we can do; to empower young people interested in STEM, and to bring together stakeholders who are ready to work towards a common goal, which is to make STEM accessible to all,” said Charles Wanjohi, Acting Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom.

The students participating in the programme will showcase projects in four broad categories at the exhibition: Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences; Ecological and Biological Sciences; Technology, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The award ceremony will be held on 6th July, with the winners walking away with fully paid trips to Ireland to visit the Irish chapter of the Young Scientists initiative.

Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) is an exciting project that provides a platform for young secondary school students in Kenya to come together to investigate theories, discover new technologies and advance current knowledge through research and innovation. YST gives young students the opportunity to demonstrate that science, technology and engineering are not only interesting and exciting, but also easy. YSK provides students with the opportunity to participate in scientific learning experiences away from the classroom and to explore the unlimited potential of science.

The proposed model is based on the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibitions (BT-YSTE) of Ireland which was started in the 1960’s by Dr. Tony Scott (who attended the YSK launch at CEMASTEA) and the late Fr. Tom Burke.  The initiative has been successful and has directly contributed to Ireland’s success as a leading European knowledge economy.

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