Robots poised to make Science and technical learning in schools more practical

By Joe Ombuor | Monday, Aug 20th 2018 at 22:02
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Director of Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) Mr Stephen Njoroge -photo by Joe Ombuor

For Kenya to inch closer to industrialized nation status in future, a paradigm shift to do away with drilling in schools for purposes of passing examinations must take effect,” states Mr Stephen Njoroge, Director of the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA).

Mr Njoroge regrets that science has been badly taught and falsely cast as the preserve of a few extraordinary individuals, a practice that has caused many learners to find it as boring.

 “To make science interesting students must be engaged in activities that invoke fun and are not necessarily examinable,’ he said at Mukumu and Kisumu Girls High schools where he witnessed the  launch of a five day robotic science training workshop all over the country  for 339 teachers drawn from  102 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools.  

Teachers assembling robots at Kisumu Girls and Mukumu Girls Secondary Schools- photo by Joe Ombuor

Besides the two schools located in Nyanza and Western regions respectively, the training simultaneously took place at Moi Girls’ School, Eldoret (North Rift), Allidina Visram Boys’ School (Coast), Kangaru Girls’ School (Metropolitan and North Eastern) and Tumu Tumu Girls’ School (Central region).

“We need innovations that can only be realized through creativity and critical thinking as opposed to obsession with academic grades that rarely lead to tangible achievements.” Said Mr Njoroge.

He exhorted the youth to come up with ideas that they could sell to investors to make money.

Mr Njoroge said plans were under way to increase STEM schools from the current 102 to 588 incorporating all national schools, one school in each of the 290 constituencies and all In-service Education Training (INSET) centres plus 105 special schools for children with disabilities.

The Deputy County Director of Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in Kisumu County Dr Esther Musani presenting a Certificate ti a teacher. Looking on is Dr Tom Mboya Okaya, national coordinator of Science, Tecnical, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs at CEMATEA photo by Joe Ombuor

The national coordinator of STEM at CEMASTEA Dr Tom Mboya Okaya said the introduction of robotics science, previously a preserve for international curriculum in the selected public Schools was aimed at inspiring students in science related careers with a view to inculcating requisite skills inculcated in competency based curriculum.  

He said the robotics workshop, the first in Kenya and the East African region focused on real life application, sorting, coding and programming to carry out specific tasks.

Stephen Njoroge- photo by Joe Ombuor

“The excitement, collaboration, and team work witnessed during the training is telling of the relevance of robotic science in our curriculum,” said Dr Okaya adding that the teachers were able to build, code and program different types of robots based on their environment and imagination.

Those from Mumias and other sugar zones for instance built robots that depicted utility machines common in the industry such as tractors, cranes, pickup trucks and the like,” said Dr Okaya.

He said CEMASTEA was preparing to run robotic competitions at regional and national levels for all the STEM Schools with focus on the big four Agenda.

“The competitions will help enhance students’ ability in problem solving, creativity, collaboration, technological and critical thinking among other skills,” said Dr Okaya.

He said CEMASTEA has developed a module for taking the teachers (step-by-step) through the educational kit to enhance students’ 21st Century skills.

The Deputy County Director of Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in Kisumu County Dr Esther Musani described the introduction of robotics in public schools as a revolution whose time had come.

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