Why Africa’s Future Lies in Tooling 10-Year Olds & Below
By Arinaitwe Rugyendo
Last week, I posed the question why and how a refocus on teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and life skills principles to children might be the answer for Africa’s transformation, particularly Uganda.
Here’s a worrying trend.
Africa spends about $ 4 billion annually to hire expatriates and related talent because we cannot find it locally! Reason? The Western world has mustered the need to expose their children to STEM Education at an early stage and this they have done year after year for decades, if not centuries.
The results have been impressive which is why Africa is hiring them to jumpstart its economies.
Thus, how is ‘Young Engineers, Kampala Uganda’ going to join the revolution to change the way our school instruct our kids without having to over whole the curriculum.
Like I revealed last week, ‘Young Engineers, Kampala Uganda,’ is an educational enrichment programme, designed in Israel with an edutainment approach in which kids play with bricks to build models out of the theory they encounter in the fields of Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics within the normal national curriculum.
This is sort of programme that will have to place them at per with their counterparts in the West once they have enrolled. The programme further, has the potential to nurture them into the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers, qualities badly needed for Africa’s transformation.
What then are the specific details of the programme that the Ugandan children will be exposed to? The programme has five key stages, which a child has to undertake right from the age of 4 to the age of 15.
The first one is called ‘Big Builders,’ targeting children who are aged between 4 and 6 years!
This fun and unique program is for kids in preschool, especially daycare and kindergarten. It incorporates tactile, motor and spatial skills while introducing science and engineering principles using the K’nex® building blocks. These programs are conducted in small groups to ensure each Big Builder obtains the intended knowledge and experience.
This unique enrichment program for preschool develops children’s motor, and spatial skills, while exploring geometric shapes and the animal kingdom using unique flexible parts. The e² Young Engineers believes that children best absorb these subjects through hands-on educational experience and the age category of 4 and 6 is the most crucial stage that a child’s mental abilities are shaped. Using flexible pieces to assemble 3D models, the Big Builders enrichment program aims to enhance motor skills, challenging the children gradually.
An average lesson lasts only 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, children play with gadgets while learning basic Construction and Mathematical Terms such as shapes, etymology, polygons, parts of a whole, movable against rigid, etc.
Throughout the course, children are exposed to imagination, friendship, belonging, camouflage, migration, pollination, biological pest control, cycle of life, Centrifugal force, gravity, torque, fulcrum, stability, friction, momentum, mechanical energy, balance, compaction, drive etc.
From these, children who go past this stage shall have gained useful knowledge about the world and environment in which they live. They shall have enhanced their motor skills and a sense of community. They will have been encouraged to think independently and gained creative thinking.
The other values they acquire, include; self-efficacy, problem solving capabilities, spatial cognition and team building skills. Some of the models built touch on critical areas in basic geometric shapes, Solar system structure, Amusement park, Animals, Aircrafts and other forms of transportation.
Is it no wonder therefore, that the continent lags behind in research, scientific discovery, technological advancement, number of books published annually, infrastructure, democracy, space technology and the like? It is not time we looked back and decided to orient the 10 year olds towards science and technology at an early stage?
Next week, we shall explore the other four programmes, namely; LEGO Challenge, GaliLEGO, Robbo LEGO and Robbotics & Software Engineering