Kenyan school girls’ Sh100 invention wins UN award

Keriko secondary school students Esther Amimo (left ) and Salome Njeri with their teacher Peter Mokaya presenting their winning project [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
A Sh100 project showcased by two Kenyan students has scooped a UN award in this year’s global science fair in the US.

The project titled ‘Essameter’, presented by Esther Amimo and Salome Njeri from Keriko Day Secondary school in Nakuru and coached by 2019 Global Teacher Award Winner Peter Tabichi, is a simple way to measure distances and can also accommodate blind and deaf users.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation in collaboration with Junior Academy of Sciences, saw more than 1,800 student finalists from across 75 countries competing for different awards.

The Keriko Secondary School project won the top United Nations Sustainable Development Goal award, scooping Sh200,000 ($2,000) among other rewards.

Essameter, representing the initials of the two girls Esther and Salome, was last year ranked top in the 56th Kenya National Science and Engineering fair under Mathematics category.

The invention, which only cost Sh100 in materials, captured the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) objective to transform the world for persons with disabilities.

Essameter helps visually impaired people and the deaf solve mathematics problems and measure angles and distances by using an innovative device.

Locally sourced

“It is a simple invention where one can measure distance in a simplified manner. It is calibrated and has an alarm, making it easy for the blind and deaf users,” Esther said.

The invention, which resembles a wall clock, is calibrated and has an alarm that rings when a set target is achieved.

Salome said they only used locally available materials. “It was not expensive because we had almost all materials sourced locally from the school and our homes. We wanted to come up with an outstanding project that will help people living with disabilities learn at ease and enjoy mathematics. The world is looking for the best ways of ensuring needs of all people including the physically challenged are addressed. Our project is therefore recommended for use in learning institutions for the blind and deaf,” she said.

Mr Tabichi said the project received accolades for its outstanding research and perfect presentation by the students, which he said propelled it to scooping the first ever UN Sustainable Development Goal award.

“The project matched with the SDG that seeks to transform the world for persons with disabilities. The innovative device, makes learning easier even for those visually impaired and deaf,” he said.

He said the slotting in of more category awards in the intel ISEF has given opportunities to thousands of students to come up with more innovative ideas while inspiring millions others across the globe.

“For a day school in a remote area to stand in the global stage and be feted for innovative ideas is just an inspiration to millions across the globe,” he said.

Keriko Secondary School head teacher Daniel Mwariri said the school was participating for the first time in an international stage, an experience he said was both humbling and eye-opener. The school, he said, was slated to participate in last year’s event but could not raise air fare.

Thrilling experience

“It is a thrilling experience to bring students all the way to stand and show the world what they can do, demystify the myths and prove that even little-known schools can be winners. It is motivating to see them shine,” Mr Mwariri said.

Simon Mururi, an official from the Ministry of Education and the national coordinator of the event, said ten students from three schools had qualified for the global science fair, presenting five projects.

The students included two from Keriko, two from Mary Hills and six from Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj School.

“The two students from Keriko scooped an award from the Special Awards Ceremony which was held on Thursday. There might be more awards from the final awarding ceremony,” Mr Mururi said.

The global science fair is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. It brings together top young scientific minds from more than 75 countries to showcase their independent research projects and compete for Sh400 million in prizes.

In the competition doctoral level scientists review and judge the work presented by the students. Contestants that make it to the international science and engineering fair are selected from a pool of more than seven million high school students around the globe.  

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Keriko DayUN Sustainable Development Goal AwardInnovation