EXPANDING BOUNDARIES INTERNATIONAL: BOOSTING SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, ARTS & MATHEMATICS IN RURAL GHANA
Expanding Boundaries International (EBI), a United States-based organization, along with its local partners, Rural Smile Foundation and Richard Akoto, aims to provide access and opportunities to children in deprived communities worldwide. Our goal is to empower students in Africa and inner-cities in America to appreciate and tune their mindset towards pursuing careers in the STEAM sector and solve complex problems of the world, especially that of their local communities.
For the past three years, Expanding Boundaries International has engaged with students in Ejura/Sekyedumase in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) educational activities. The original intent was to create a two weeks STEAM camp in the United States for the students. However, due to financial difficulties and the Pandemic, things had to be reevaluated. As students were stuck home during the pandemic, EBI and its partners began engaging them in virtual activities. Funding was made available to purchase internet data and shipping webcams and microphone headphones for each participant.
Our team understands that students from deprived communities do not have the luxury of connecting to science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and mathematics opportunities. The lack thereof affects the creativity of the student. Our goal is the empower the creativity in them one student at a time.
After several virtual sessions with beneficiary students in Ejura/ Sekyedumase with virtual interaction, the team decided to visit and engage the students. We affectionately call the explorers to physically connect and understand more about their community and engagement in in-person STEAM activities.
On Monday, 28th June 2021, the team met with the students from Rural Smile Foundation, Betenase JHS, Ejura RC JHS, instructors/teachers, and volunteers to officially engage with both kids and their teachers including volunteers. There were a series of activities that we took the students through together with their teachers and the volunteers.
The theme for the activities was Critical Thinking and Team building. Our goal is to enlighten our explorers to always look at alternative solutions based on critical thinking. We engage them on building a battery, solar, and wind-powered operated cars with the notion that there are many means to getting electricity and allowing the explorers to explore, which is more potent in terms of speed, and accessibility. In groups Of five (5), the explorers worked together, allowing them to pick team leads, following instructions, and building communication skills for group work.
In addition, we held a career mentoring session – students learned about the many careers in STEAM. They had the opportunity to connect with professionals in STEAM careers to learn about their journey to such fields. We found it so impressive about the career mentoring session how our explorers realized that a job in STEAM is possible because they have heard from Ghanaians who are either working in Ghana or overseas share their career journey.
Interactive learning is our core focus, and for that, we took our explorers on a field trip to Kumasi Technical University. They had the opportunity to engage with professors at the Electrical /Electronic Engineering Department to learn what it takes to pursue Engineering. Aside from learning about the university and the programs they offer, our explorers had the opportunity to travel to Kumasi, a two/three-hour drive from the Ejura. About 90% of our explorers have never traveled outside of their community. This trip served the purpose of allowing students to expand their knowledge and boundaries.
The camp ended with a community health screening in Ejura administered by the OKB Hope Foundation. Health is wealth, and we understand the shortcoming of our health facilities in Ghana and the limited check-ups done by citizens. We took this opportunity to educate the community, screen them on diabetes and hypertension.
Overall, the feedback was very positive, and EBI’s desire to continue engaging with the explorers online on google classroom while we prepare for next year’s visit. The opportunity to partner with us is open to all. Our organization is a team of passionate working professionals who loves to give back and need any financial support to keep impacting the lives of Africa and the world’s future innovator