Teenage girls impress US Secretary of State with STEM skills
Students who attended the Visiola Foundation's 2016 STEM Summer Camp for teenage girls impressed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and American ambassadors when they visited Abuja, Nigeria. One of the projects the girls had was to make a robotic forklift (see video below). The Visiola Foundation was founded by 2014 Tutu Fellow Lade Araba. It educates high-potential girls and young women in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Math) fields to build a pipeline of leaders and innovators who will help to transform African countries.
Although more women are enrolling in tertiary education, the gender divide is wide in STEM fields. Because girls often make the decision to abandon STEM subjects in secondary school, the foundation seeks to address this by attracting teenage girls into STEM during this stage of their lives.
The summer camp comprises classroom coursework, practical team activities, games, and a group project. Students learn basic concepts in computer programming, science, math, and engineering. Secretary Kerry was accompanied by other embassy staff, including the U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for Women's Affairs, Cathy Russell; and the U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. They attended a special Roundtable Meeting in Abuja on 24 August 2016 to discuss the importance of educating girls and of getting more women into the STEM fields. They roundtable is reported to have gone well with further follow-up with the embassy is expected in coming weeks.
Read more about the summer camp and the visit at the Foundation website.