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My Journey Through STEM Inspires Girls towards Science and Careers

May 30, 2016 – News Ghana. Link

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Young children say doctor, nurse, policeman, trader, teacher with great conviction. An adolescent may say pharmacist, bank manager, seamstress, welder. A few may hesitantly add pilot, journalist, scientist. These aspirations reflects the type of jobs and professionals a young person has encountered in person or in the media.

Last Friday afternoon on 27th May, The Exploratory introduced an innovative and dynamic program, My Journey Through STEM, to expand the horizon for almost 150 girls in primary 4 to JHS 3 from six basic schools in Pokuase. The program was held at the Lighthouse International Chapel.

STEM is an acronym to include science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

My Journey Through STEM featured Florence Toffa, director of Mobile Web Ghana and a 2015 Vital Voices Lead Fellow; Adjo Dede Asare, Managing Director of Alfie Designs, a fashion company; Akosua Afriyie, a photographer, a Regional Development Planner and founder of Dare To Dream Ghana; Sophia Asare, a nurse at the Pokuase Health Center, and Josephine Marie Godwyll, a geomatic engineer, founder of Young at Heart, and program manager of The Exploratory. More detailed bios are linked here.

“We have two goals for this [My Journey Through STEM] event. First, is to let girls know that a solid foundation in STEM can open the door to many different careers. Second, we want to showcase role models who are determined to work hard and overcome obstacles to pursue a career they love, and who also give back to their communities,” said Ms. Godwyll.

How maths, tech, engineering and fashion come together - Adjo Dede

How maths, tech, engineering and fashion come together – Adjo Dede

The speakers and moderators presented an informative afternoon. From clothing design and sewing to new ways to treat fabric; from logo design to marketing; from computer programming to fixing machines; from midwifery to general nursing, the speakers enlightened the girls about how they use science, technology and mathematics everyday. Whether their parents were farmers or doctors, traders or nurses, the role models took science seriously, shook off discouraging remarks and worked hard.

To be creative and be able to solve problems, you must first be curious

“To be creative and be able to solve problems, you must first be curious,” said Florence Toffa.

She went on to study software development when she wondered how computers worked, became a tech entrepreneur creating mobile applications, and now oversees the training and incubation of the next generation of mobile technology entrepreneurs in Ghana.

Florence Toffa begins a quick overview of programming languages

Florence Toffa offers a quick overview of programming languages

Akosua Afriyie encouraged girls to be observant, a critical skill in science, and to appreciate and preserve the beauty around them. She awed them with her breathtaking photographs of the Aburi Gardens, of people and of fashion. She was refreshingly open in admitting that her path had not been easy but emphasized that a scientific mindset can help solve problems.

You must dream big and go beyond SHS and a certificate

With the near future on their minds, the young girls asked eager what courses the role models studied in SHS (senior high school) and beyond.

“You must dream big and go beyond SHS and a certificate,” said Sophia Asare. She added that her own professionalism and her caring attitude does not end at the hospital ward but extends into the community.

Sophia Asare answers questions

Just like one would bring provisions and tools when going on an excursion, these role models have shown these girls that knowledge, attitude and the ability to solve problems through STEM are some of the most important things they can take on their own journey.

The group of 150 girls have been participating in STEM clubs organized by 19 basic school teachers who have been trained by The Exploratory since January 2015. The Exploratory also provides learning materials so these enrichment clubs can use practical activities in science to develop young girls’ interest in STEM, build their confidence, and to inspire them towards study and careers, in order to close the gender gaps in society.