The Ghana Science & Tech Explorer Prize (GSTEP) Challenge was launched this year to commence activities focused on providing relevant skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to Ghanaian youth while solving problems in communities and society at large. The program is being implemented by a consortium which includes DreamOval Foundation, MEST Africa, DEXT Technology, Challenge Works and Foundervine. The program, using the challenge prize model, offers the opportunity to students to acquire and apply relevant skills that support entrepreneurship and build interest in STEM.
The program commenced with outreach activities focused on educating teachers, students and relevant stakeholders in education in Ghana about the program. With support from the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education, schools in selected districts in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions were invited to submit entries to participate in the GSTEP Challenge program. Over 800 submissions were received from both regions out of which 50 teams, made up of 4 to 6 team members were selected. The ideas submitted involved the development of prototypes that solved problems in communities and society at large. The ideas covered areas of health, agriculture, crime, security, energy, among others.
Induction events were held in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions for all 50 finalist teams. The events provided the teams with guidance into the GSTEP program and the requirements from each team. The teams were also taken through a series of workshops to prepare them for the Challenge. The workshops covered business plan development, presentation skills, STEM based education and practical STEM skills. These activities were focused on providing the teams with basic knowledge to support them as they progress through the Challenge.
The next phase of the Challenge saw the teams participate in a series of activities, mentoring and coaching sessions to support them in developing their prototypes. Each team was assigned a mentor who provided the team with basic STEM knowledge, guidance in business plan development and presentation skills as well as other relevant support areas the mentor deemed the team required. The teams were also provided with coaches who provided technical support in the development of the prototypes by the teams. The teams also participated in industry visits to the Museum of Science and Technology, Ashesi University and the College of Engineering, KNUST. These activities and sessions were focused on providing on hand experience and knowledge to enable the teams acquire relevant entrepreneurial and STEM skills.
After developing their prototypes, each presented their idea to a panel of judges. Their presentations explained the reasoning behind the development of their prototypes, how the prototypes were built and what each team seeks to achieve using their prototype. This was an exciting period for many participants who had not had such an opportunity to exert themselves into such an experience. The judging events gave the teams the opportunity to showcase the skills they have acquired and also obtain relevant knowledge from the expert panel of judges.
The Youth Steering Group, an initiative under the GSTEP program where 20 young Ghanaians are coached and mentored in STEM and entrepreneurship, were not left out. The GSTEP Youth Ambassador program offers Ghanaian youth, between the ages of 14 to 16 years the opportunity to learn and apply STEM and entrepreneurial skills that can positively impact their communities and those around them. The Youth Ambassadors participated in a series of workshops and masterclasses that covered interview skills, presentation skills, rapid ideation and prototype building. They also participated in industrial visits to Ashesi University and the College of Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
These activities were conducted to provide the Youth Ambassadors with relevant knowledge and skills in STEM. The Youth Ambassadors were also mentored by seasoned mentors in STEM.
The Year 2022 has seen the execution of significant activities, achievements and milestones by the GSTEP team. It has been a delightful experience seeing the impact of the GSTEP program on the lives of the participants and their communities. There is more to be achieved in the coming months and the GSTEP team is prepared to do more.