STEMBees Fundraises for Ghanaian Teens to Compete in International Robotics Competition

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday June 6th 2018

Of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, number five is gender equality, which looks to close the gender gap especially in the STEM industry. If this goal is to be reached, it must start with empowerment of young girls.

This year five science students from Wesley Girls’ High School under the mentorship of MEST alumni-founded non-profit STEMBees have been selected to represent Ghana at the FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico City, Mexico from August 15th to 18th. This international robotics challenge is organized annually to ignite passion for STEM among youth throughout the world, with one team from every nation invited to participate.

In order for them to attend, the STEMBees team and the participants are asking for support through an online fundraiser. We spoke to each of the five girls on the team to get to know more about their passion for STEM and why they think closing the gender gap is so important.

[caption id="attachment_6873" align="aligncenter" width="665"]STEMBees Team Ghana preps for FIRST Global Challenge International Robotics Competition. Team Ghana having fun prepping for August's international robotics competition.[/caption]

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Dillys Annan: I’m 17 years old and from Teshie in the southern part of Ghana. I love sketching, realizing new things, and improving on conditions around me.

Eyram Nud-Duwor: I’m 17 years old and from the Volta Region located in the South-Eastern part of Ghana. I love solving anything that involves calculations!

Enam Dartey: I’m 16 years old and from Anloga in the Volta Region of Ghana, and I love music and playing football.

Lizette Osafo: I’m 17 years old and from Winneba, a small town in the Central Region of Ghana.  I love music, playing the guitar, and reading Greek Mythology books.

Foriwaa Abu-Sakyi: I’m 16 years old and come from Adansi Fomena in the Ashanti region of Ghana. I am the Team captain and a programmer for Team Ghana. II also love programming and teaching people how to program as well. I dream of becoming a criminal lawyer or medical lawyer in the future.

Why do you believe the opportunity to compete in an international robotics challenge is important?

Dillys Annan: I believe participation in an international robotics competition can provide an opportunity to learn new things about the robotics world. It will also allow us to share knowledge with others who have similar interests and are pursuing the same goal of developing our world through robotics and technology.

Eyram Nud-Duwor: It helps to enlighten us on what we need to do to up our game and also know different ways we can implement solutions to solve a particular problem.

Enam Dartey: I believe Ghana is now coming up in technology, so participating in this competition will boost Ghanaian interest in technology as well as encourage people to learn STEM.

Lizette Osafo: We will be able to learn ways of solving problems practically and not theoretically. Technology is dominating the world today and, as such, this competition serves as an eye-opener.

Foriwaa Abu-Sakyi: This is a huge stepping stone and a great opportunity for us. Right now, I’m challenged to think outside the box. We’re not limited to the motor cars that we build and program in school, but are able to do much more. I also see it as an eye opener to the fact that the big people in the technology world see something in youth. They believe in our potential. And they believe we can solve the world’s biggest problems. Ocean acidification, pollution, energy - just to name a few - are some problems that I believe through this competition our ideas can be channeled to the outside world. Who knows, we might have the next big idea to solve the world’s challenges!

[caption id="attachment_6874" align="aligncenter" width="665"]STEMBees Team Ghana preps for FIRST Global Challenge International Robotics Competition. The members of the all female team to represent Ghana at the FIRST Global Challenge.[/caption]

Why do you believe it is important to close the gender gap in STEM?

Dillys Annan: In our world problems and ideas are discovered by both genders. If we have an unequal ratio of gender consideration in STEM, we will be unable to tap into the thoughts and insights of each, and end up being deficient in knowledge required to build a better scientific world.

Eyram Nud-Duwor: In closing the gender gap in STEM, both genders will be able to bring their ideas on how to solve the problem. It will also prevent one gender from feeling inferior to the other and this will enable them to put in their maximum effort to obtain a common aim.

Enam Dartey: Men have always been given the opportunity to take part in business, and girls have been left to the kitchen. Women should be encouraged and given equal platforms to also do something really great in STEM. Closing the gender gap would bring both men and women together to bring new ideas and help make the world a better place.

Lizette Osafo: Many have the mindset that STEM is for men. But we need to recruit women just as the men are.

Foriwaa Abu-Sakyi: In my opinion, the gender gap isn’t doing damage to just women and girls; it hurts everyone. Like Michelle Obama said, “We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls to navigate careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.” In order to see a significant increase in Ghana’s, and even the world’s productivity, the gender gap must be closed. Women, must be given the voice, the chance to rise, and the chance to soar and prove to the world that they can do it. I also believe that no country can reach its zenith until women reach their zenith, especially in STEM, where women with great talent still face a deficit of opportunity. Until we talk about the gender gap in STEM in the past tense, I don’t see the nation or the world going any further.

What interests you most about STEM?

Dillys Annan: What interests me most about STEM would be the technology aspect, and it can be used to break barriers and impart knowledge. Technology pushes the limits of our thinking and helps us to attempt the impossibilities of the world.

Eyram Nud-Duwor: The fact that it combines all the sciences and mathematical skills together and enables you to use them to manufacture machines that can solve problems within the shortest possible time.

Enam Dartey: What interests me most about STEM is how it allows us to involve children oryouth in thinking deep in order to combine Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology to find solutions to everyday problems around us.

Lizette Osafo: Through STEM, one is able to make his or her imaginations become a reality, through the building of machines from parts and programming them to do whatever they want.

Foriwaa Abu-Sakyi: Right now, STEM runs our world, and if you don’t have even the least bit of STEM education, then it’s much more difficult to survive.STEM is important to me because without it, I wouldn’t understand most things that go on around meYou simply cannot imagine a world without STEM.

If you would like to support the girls at the First Global Robotics Competition in Mexico, you can donate here!