STEMpower is an international not for profit, non-governmental organization providing hands-on labs-based STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in Ethiopia and near-by Sub-Saharan African, plus supporting those students towards innovation and Tech-SMEs (Technology based small and micro enterprises).
Since January 2020, Nigist Tilahun has served as the leader of STEMpower's “Girls in STEM Program”, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prior to that role, Nigist served as Director of Hawassa University STEM Center, in Ethiopia’s south, for more than seven years.
Fig.1 Nigist Tilahun Fig.2 Perspectives of women in Tech Summit, Warsaw, Poland, 2016
Early on, Nigist observed gender disparities among students who arrived to learn at the center. Nigist made changes by hosting workshops and conferences, in collaboration with area universities and the community, and pushed for changes in the lab curricula. She took part in an international platform on “Perspectives of Women in Tech Summit” that was held in Warsaw, Poland, in 2016. She also reached out to the “1000 Girls 1000 Futures” program led by the New York Academy of Sciences, an initiative designed to engage young women interested in STEM careers through mentoring and 21st-century skills development.
Fig.3 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures NYAS, 2018 Fig.4 Hawassa STEM Center, Hawassa, Ethiopia
The result: Participation of girls at her STEM Center grew immediately, to the point where today significant amount students at STEMpower STEM centers are girls.
Our second story focuses on Azeb Kidanemariam, a 17-year-old female student who studies today at the Hawassa STEM center, mentioned above. Azeb is energetic, inspired and always ready to solve problems in her community.
At the center, Azeb learns, experiments and practices in Labs in a detailed way. She hopes to become a Lab technician in the future and contribute much to her community.
Fig. 5 Azeb at Hawassa STEM Center
When she was 9 years of age, she saw something that grabbed her attention. She witnessed that people were cured from skin tags (molluscum contagiosum) by applying “dog urine” on the lesion.
Azeb was inspired to research how to prepare a scientifically proven medicine to treat skin lesions. Her passion further progressed at our STEM center, advancing to become her entry at the annual Ethiopian National Science and Engineering Fair Competition. The national competition is a continuing partnership between STEMpower and the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, for the benefit of thousands of promising engineers and scientists who get the chance to showcase their innovations to the nation and the world.
Watch a short video of our female students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1qvGeWQUQE
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