STEM METS Part­ners Air­bus to Train Fu­ture Fe­male En­gi­neers

THISDAY - - XTRA - Yinka Olatun­bo­sun

The girls at Methodist Girls’ High School were kept busy re­cently with a project that is de­signed to help them de­velop their skill set for fu­ture. Or­gan­ised mostly in trios, these stu­dents in each group had a com­mon goal- to as­sem­ble and fly a mini plane.

It was called the of­fi­cial launch of the Air­bus Lit­tle En­gi­neer work­shop, a project which has trained more than 1,000 school stu­dents in Nige­ria. The project is a part of Air­bus Foun­da­tion’s youth de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme which took off in 2017.

It was dis­cov­ered that the Nige­rian school cur­ricu­lum is yet to in­clude sub­jects that can em­power young stu­dents to build up ex­cit­ing ca­reers in science and tech­nol­ogy in line with the global stan­dards. These sub­jects in­clude robotics and space ex­plo­ration. There­fore, to en­cour­age stu­dents to un­der­stand and em­brace tech­nol­ogy, the Air­bus Foun­da­tion thus part­ners The Lit­tle En­gi­neer and STEM METS Re­sources in train­ing 30 stu­dents at Methodist Girls’ High School.

The stu­dents were aged be­tween 13 and 15 years. They were taught to iden­tity the var­i­ous parts of an air­craft while given the op­por­tu­nity to build an A380 scale model from scratch. The four-hour work­shop was run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ously with talk ses­sions on why this project is es­sen­tial for the Nige­rian child. The founder, STEM METS Re­sources, Jades­ola Ad­edeji ex­tolled the val­ues of Science, Tech­nol­ogy, Engi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics (STEM) ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing the panelists’ ses­sion.

“We want noth­ing more than for chil­dren in Nige­ria to have ac­cess to in­no­va­tive and al­ter­na­tive means of learn­ing us­ing and also cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where STEM ed­u­ca­tion will be em­braced and en­hanced in our so­ci­ety,’’ she said.

She also urged the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to review the cur­rent school cur­ricu­lum in the light of cur­rent in­ter­ven­tions to en­hance the knowl­edge econ­omy.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Air­bus Foun­da­tion, in her state­ment said that “in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing are es­sen­tial in build­ing an ed­u­cated and skilled work­force.’’ This clearly ex­plains why Air­bus is sup­port­ing a coun­try’s ef­fort in cre­at­ing sus­tain­able ed­u­ca­tion.

Nosazena Amiengheme one of the train­ers from STEM METS re­sources at the work­shop de­scribed the ini­tia­tive as one that ex­poses the child to the ba­sics of aero­nau­tic engi­neer­ing.

“Air­bus has the dream of cre­at­ing dif­fer­ent types of air­craft that will make life eas­ier. Most chil­dren make ca­reer choices in medicine or arts or law, for­get­ting that we have aero­nau­tic engi­neer­ing. It is Air­bus’s de­sire to have these chil­dren learn more about it.

“We also en­lighten the school to ini­ti­ate a fol­low-up pro­gramme to en­cour­age these stu­dents who are hands-on. They will de­velop prob­lem solv­ing skills, crit­i­cal think­ing and learn col­lab­o­ra­tion. They are also taught that the air­plane is not built in one coun­try. The dif­fer­ent parts are built in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and as­sem­bled in one place, usu­ally France. We let them know that they can­not al­ways work alone as in­di­vid­u­als. We also or­ga­nize field trips, camps and af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties and clubs to en­hance their skills,’’ she said.

It is also in­ter­est­ing to see the project launched in an all-fe­male school. In the trainer’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the work­shops, girls are faster at learn­ing the skills than their male coun­ter­parts.

“There was a group that we had in Ikeja. The girls didn’t just write a pro­gram, they named it and we didn’t teach them that. That was quite bril­liant. They even gave the plane a horn. We have seen that we need to en­cour­age our girls, not just to be full-time house­wives,’’ she added.

L-R: Mrs. Abim­bola Ali, Vice Prin­ci­pal Aca­demics Methodist Girls High School, Jades­ola Ad­edeji, Founder STEM METS Re­sources and Pro­gramme Co­or­di­na­tor Air­bus A380 Work­shop Nige­ria, Oluwa­mu­miyo Makindipe, par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dent, Air­bus A380 Lit­tle...

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