The most effective route of becoming is simply by acting. It is for this reason that the Sahara foundation embarked on a mission of bringing together some of the young and brightest minds across Africa to help them build models of possible solutions to challenges being faced by their immediate communities. This idea saw the Sahara STEAMER’s programme come to life to help imbibe within these young great minds the innovative spirit to make their environment a more habitable one.
The programme was aimed at captivating and inculcating into the minds of young secondary school students the confidence to tackle challenges in their environment through purposeful and inventive ideas and creations with the theme of the programme being “CATCH THEM YOUNG AND CURIOUS”. The programme saw students from 3 countries (Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda) participate and was set out with the aim of engaging a total number of 150 students across all 3 locations. The set-out target was achieved, with a total of 94 male students and 56 female students being enrolled at the commencement of the programme for full and active participation.
The first demo of the programme was centered around conceptualization and grasping extensively the impact their ideas and potential creations could have on their communities. It was targeted at elevating and enhancing the understanding of the students in their knowledge of embedded systems through creative thinking and bolstered confidence. All activities of the first demo stage were carried out within the premises of enrolled participants in each country and saw the participants share their theoretical knowledge around physical computing. Participants in each school were later grouped into 5 groups to go through the ideation module with volunteers from the Sahara Foundation and Asharami Group to help guide them astutely on the perfect pathway to take, as well as shedding light on the potential challenges they could/would encounter, in order to bring their ideas to reality. This introductory exposure into design thinking turned out to be very important as it helped the students navigate through the process of picking challenges to tackle through proper guidance by the volunteers. The volunteers were also tasked with ensuring the thought process of analyzing these problems, and ideas to use in tackling them, were documented for record and reference purposes.
The second demo day had 30 groups in total which consisted of 10 groups from each participating country. This phase saw the participants showcase their projects and inventions in front of a panel of judges. The competitive state of this phase was top tier as designs of different kinds were made as these students reveled in the idea of being young inventors looking to face challenges from an inventive viewpoint, looking to go on and conquer the world through invention. Participating students were coached and assisted through writing lines of codes and using simple materials for accomplishing their designs and projects. This phase went on smoothly with lots of excitement and concluded with the judges selecting the top 3 finalists for each country, finalists who would go on to present at the next demo day which turned out to be the grand finale, the grand demo day.
On the 12th day of August 2022, the grand demo day was held. A total of 9 groups showcased their final day designs and masterpiece projects, with each participating country having 3 groups each in the ballot. Presentation was intense, intellectual competitive spirit was at its peak.
A panel of judges comprising of different experienced persons from each participating country was out to decide the winner of this nail-biting competition which has seen some of the best ideas come to life through designs and innovative thinking. Who was to be the winner?
At the end of presentation on this final day, a Nigerian group (the Watchmen), emerged the overall winner of the programme. The final scores also saw a group from Uganda (Ziggo Plant Watering Systems) come out second place while a group from Kenya (Venus Inventors) came out third place thereby presenting each participating country with a piece from the spoils of victory.
What a beautiful event to behold indeed as it has gone on to show beautiful moments filled with excitement and thrill, as well as giving an insight into the achievable potentials of these innovative and brilliant young minds when nurtured properly.