First Welcome - Gondar EEWB Conference, December 2018
Updated: Aug 17
Welcome to the STEMpower community. We are the innovative nonprofit that is bringing STEM enrichment across Ethiopia and subSaharan African countries. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
The story of STEMpower began thirteen years ago in Ethiopia, as an exploratory initiative by the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust (“GFCT”). At the time, Ethiopian universities were just beginning to add engineering and science lab curricula. The GFCT believed that their best impact would be to educate pre-university students, offering them hands-on lab-based STEM education.
Implementation wasn’t easy. Establishing a STEM Center was a lengthy process with daunting sequence of steps: securing permits, constructing the buildings, importing the lab equipment, hiring the lab mentors, and enrolling the students. Moreover, there were no models of pre-university STEM enrichment curricula to work from.
Yet within a few years, we were creating a national network of STEM Centers and programs.The founders of STEMpower have been involved in 22 pre-university STEM Centers in Ethiopia.
Today our role is to identify, fund, research, and extend the concept of hands-on STEM learning programs. We then help in various capacities the permanent academic stakeholders (typically universities and government education sites) sustainably operate their STEM Centers.
A recent example our work:
Gondar University STEM Center – EEWB Conference
In December 2018, STEMpower sponsored a science conference organized by the Ethiopian Educators Without Borders at the University of Gondar. Gondar, a city in the mountainous Ethiopian north, is the site of castles and iconic churches.
Gondar is also the site of Gondar STEM Center, the STEMpower founders’ third in what has become a national network of hands-on lab-based pre-university STEM learning centers.
A decade ago, STEMpower‘s founders visited the historically-Jewish area, as well as Gondar University. The University had plans to construct engineering labs on their large campus. STEMpower‘s founders realized that incoming classes of lab-experienced freshman students would contribute to the University’s education effectiveness. Gondar’s municipal authorities stepped in and helped us construct a compound of three lab-friendly buildings to serve as the future Gondar STEM Center. We then furnished lab equipment, lab furniture, and multiple years of support assistance to begin operations. Since then, their Center continues to be strong, and has become a proud asset of the University.
In December 2018, the Gondar chapter of Ethiopian Educator's Without Borders hosted their annual conference at the center. The gathering at the STEM Center vividly demonstrated student innovations, engineering & robotics education, and academic presentations. Many pre-University students in Gondar University’s catchment area attended and were inspired to join the STEM movement.
Our next STEM Center, the 23rd in Ethiopia, will be located in Burayu, west of Addis Ababa. Burayu Talented Youth Academy is a massive project by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.
We are honored that our STEM education movement has been fully adopted nationally by Ethiopian stakeholders: The national government ministries, the regional state governments, the municipal education bureaus, the public universities, the students and their families, and beyond.