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Young Scientists from Tanzania and Kenya visit the Irish Aid Centre

Young Scientists from Tanzania and Kenya visit the Irish Aid Centre

Our Irish Aid centre staff were excited to welcome some very special guests to the Centre this week! Transition Year students from Ballinamore Community School in County Leitrim were joined for a workshop by the 2018 winners of both Young Scientists Kenya and Young Scientists Tanzania on Tuesday, ahead of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the RDS which officially opens to the public on Thursday.

Abdulrahman Ali and Wilson Irungu and their teacher Anthony Bwogo from Nakuru High School in Kenya and Farida Kwingwa Mnyazi and Wilhelmina Martin Msoma and their teacher Mwashamba Magahimali from Msalato Girls Secondary School in Dodoma, Tanzania, have travelled to Ireland to display their winning projects. The Young Scientists programmes in Tanzania and Kenya were set up with support from Irish teachers, including Joe Clowry, a science teacher based in Carlow who played a key part in bringing the Young Scientists Exhibition to Africa.

The Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) inaugural National Science and Technology Exhibition was opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2018, with Dr. Vincent O'Neill, Irish Ambassador to Kenya, in attendance. In its pilot year 93 projects were created by secondary school students from 81 schools, showing the immense creativity of teenagers in Kenya. This is the first time that Kenyan students are bringing projects to the Irish exhibition, and they will be accompanied by Dr Kevit Desai, YST Chair and Principal Secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Education, and Walter Maina from the Irish Embassy in Kenya, as well as Mr Clowry.

Joe Clowry said: "What is unique about YSK and YST is the emphasis on the Outreach Programme where we go into schools and mentor the students and their teachers and introduce them to the scientific method and working outside the curriculum. In Ireland, science has been instrumental in our own social and economic development. I see this model of Young Scientists as transferable to other countries and as in Ireland, it can be transformative."

Bringing the prize winning project to another country mirrors the Irish Aid/Self Help Africa Science for Development Award. This award aims to encourage teachers and students to develop ideas, using appropriate scientific technology that can often assist communities in the Global South to address every day challenges. The winners of the award receive a perpetual trophy and a €5,000 bursary for students and their teacher to travel on a fact-finding/field testing visit to a country in Africa. In 2018 Timothy McGrath from Killorglin Community College won the Award for his project on an investigation into the use of genetic engineering to target bacteria that cause cholera. Timothy will travel to Uganda in February 2019 to present his findings at a university there.

Ireland has strong links with both Tanzania and Kenya and indeed the negotiation process for the Sustainable Development Goals was successfully co-chaired by Ireland and Kenya. The 2030 Agenda, as the SDgs are formally known, applies equally to all countries, promoting development while protecting the planet. Contributions and innovations by young people and scientists will be instrumental to achieving the 17 Goals by 2030.

Each year we see more entries that are contenders for the Science for Development award. These are projects that might look at renewable energy or the purification and more efficient use of water. The judges look for evidence that the students have thought about the bigger picture. They want to see that they have made the link to the global, how our challenges are global challenges which require global solutions. When facing these challenges it is people with fewer resources who suffer most and projects are encouraged that have taken this into consideration.

Tanzania Group Photo

The presence of the Kenyan and Tanzanian students at the exhibition gives us the opportunity to see stories of innovation coming from these countries. Tanzania also features in Irish Aid's primary school programme, the 'One World Award', highlighting how Dunia Designs reuse discarded plastic to create durable and high quality furniture, another story of an innovative solution to a global problem coming from Tanzania. The One World Award for 2019 launches on 14th January, and more information will be available from Monday.

The Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition runs in the RDS, Dublin from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th January 2019.

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