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Young School Innovators: to develop talents and skills

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya:::

The art of technology and innovation is what is presently advancing the some countries in the world. Developed countries like the United States of America and the Peoples Republic of China are spending millions of United States Dollars yearly on technology and innovation in other to keep their human resources well on the alert. Schools are targeted in these countries in other to get abreast with the new trends. salone

In China for example, over twenty million Chinese students recently benefited from a first ever space video training in the manned Zhengzhou 10 mission. The training exercise was done through a newly developed programmed by the Chinese Astronauts which enabled the students to take lessons and ask questions from the earth while also getting answers from the female astronaut in the space station.

Although the Ministry of Education Science and Technology has not been efficiently enhancing science and technology in Sierra Leone, the Global Minimum better known as GMin through their “ah de mek am” school innovate Salone 2013 competition has been able to collaborate with over 60 secondary schools in Sierra Leone to provide students with the opportunity and resources to translate innovative ideas to physical prototypes.

They have altogether held two competitions since their formation in 2006. Six teams of finalists for the Innovate Salone 2013 for Secondary School Pupils have been unveiled during the celebration of young inventors held at the British Council Auditorium in Freetown over the weekend. The Innovate Salone “Ah De Mek Am “Competition is in its second year stage organized by the GMin, a non-profit organization founded by friends from Sierra Leone and Denmark who went to various High School in Norway.

Over 400 Secondary School Pupils contributed to the competition and there were over 100 applications from all over Sierra Leone with each of the applicants proposing to solve a tangible problem in their communities. Each of the finalist teams received $1,500 to build a prototype of their solution, and connections to a network of mentors at top Universities in the United States of America such as Harvard University and Michigan Institute of Technology.

The first among the six finalists is the Annie Walsh Memorial School in Freetown with a project to create an electric hoist. Due to the high levels of deforestation within the Freetown Peninsula, water levels have been said to be decreasing at a steady rate. In order to access fresh drinking water, wells are being dug deeper and more frequently. At this backdrop, the team from The Annie Walsh Memorial School is looking to create an easy and scalable way for anyone to have access to water at the bottom of wells through the development and creation of an electric hoist system using locally available materials.

The school that came second in the competition was the Awada School in Bo city with a project aiming at producing energy around a simple circuit. The students from The Awada School hope to find the best way to create torches out of scrap metal that can be readily found in surrounding communities. Their goal would be to find a cost effective and easy way to make light available to as many people as possible in Sierra Leone.

Also, the Prince of Wales School (Freetown) came third with a project to manually operate a Grinding Machine. The students from this School will be working on the design and production of manually operated grinding machines to promote the ease and safety of maintaining various tools including knives, cutlasses, and hoes, in communities around the country.

The Kabala Senior Secondary School was chosen for the fourth position for a project aiming at raising Health and Sanitation Awareness especially when the lack of access to clean water is the common cause for sickness such as cholera. In order to minimize diseases caused by unsafe drinking water, students from the Kabala Senior Secondary School are aiming to repair broken wells while treating the water with chlorine and their end goal is to increase community sanitation.

Chosen as the fifth team also is the students of Prince of Wales Senior Secondary School who are looking to harness the power of wind to supply a constant, consistent, and reliable stream of energy to power their school’s physics laboratory. Drawing from electromagnetism and wind technology the team additionally hopes to create rechargeable batteries that can be charged using low-cost high powered windmills.

The team sixth which is the EducAid Senior secondary School in Port Loko is the last year winners of the competition who are using agriculture to keep their colleagues in School. Through farming this team has been providing implements for the school feeding programme.

Speaking at the event on Saturday June 22nd, Mamoud Javombo Head of Operations of Global Minimum in Sierra Leone said that since the formation of the organization in 2006 at Harvard University, a Sierra Leonean born David Sengeh who is also the President of the organization has been in the forefront in helping the rural poor by distributing over fifteen thousand treated mosquito nets in the country. He said “Sengeh also implemented the one laptop per child in the Pujehun Districts as part of his love for not only his country but the children of Sierra Leone.”

Javombo noted that the Innovate Salone with support from Global Minimum has for the second year engaged secondary school pupils all over the country to come up with solutions to community and national problems through innovations. He adds that “these six finalists are clear indication that our endeavors to find a Sierra Leonean solution to our problems are not fruitless. We believe that innovation that will enhance rapid economic growth and these young innovators are ready to prove us right.”

On his part, Harvard based David Sengeh President of Global Minimum and Founder of Innovate Salone described this year’s competition as successful base on the increase in applications which shows that the level of engagement is increasing. Mr. Sengeh notes that he “wants people to think outside the box. There are so many opportunities. Students should use creative thinking to solve a local challenge and that is innovation. Building something that does not exist”.

Isatu Kamara a member of the Annie Walsh Memorial Secondary School team that made it to the finals on behalf of the other finalists thanked Innovate Salone for the opportunity in making their dreams a reality. She said “this is a starting point for our future, we are the lucky winners and we will definitely make our ideas a reality”(Published verbatim).

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