STEMGuyana is a big idea whose time has come and it was created to expose Guyanese students to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and the Arts) education in a fun and engaging way. Communities in countries all over the world have embraced this idea and it is less important that Guyana is playing catch up than is the fact that we are now fully engaged.
STEM Guyana is a true public-private, diaspora-local sponsored programme and all stakeholders agree that the goal of the project is to help students think outside of the box, work well in teams, learn about robotics and programming, learn how to be innovative and creative and how to hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills to allow them positively impact their communities and the world.
It is important to note, that while a STEM education is promoted, the skills learned by students engaged in STEM clubs will be easily transferable to any other careers or industries. Essentially, skills like problem solving, critical thinking and logical analysis help students to contribute more effectively to all fields and therefore will pay off massively in the future as Guyana moves forward towards development.
While organizers work to formalize the structure of STEMGuyana, many graduates of the STEMGuyana summer programme are still meeting and doing amazing work. The Holy Cross Church youth group spends most weekends conducting robotics classes with underprivileged youth in the Guyana Police Force’s ‘A’ Division youth programme.
The Kuru Kuru library continues to host STEM robotics classes for community youth and the Cacique Foundation in North Ruimveldt has begun meeting to share robotics knowledge with the young students in their community. The University of Guyana, Computer Science Department is currently organizing training and evaluating a donated Lego Mindstorm Robotics kit and several older students at local schools are currently working to rollout their own STEM clubs.
Although we are coming off of a successful Summer programme where nearly 200 young people were exposed to robotics building and programming, STEM Guyana is only just in its organizing phase and is currently conducting research to identify communities outside of Region Four that have an interest in STEM clubs. More than thirty communities have expressed an interest in the programme thus far and many have offered facilities for robotics and programming training for their youth.
Our vision is to eventually help community STEM clubs offer a competitive STEM curriculum to its members. Specifically, clubs will offer access to Grade 6 and CSEC Math prep lessons, students will learn MIT Scratch programming skills to prepare them to enter into an international coding league in 2017 and to engage and prepare them to make a smooth transition to learning commercial programming languages.
There should also be facilities for students to use tablet apps to strengthen their reading skills and the curriculum also includes robot and drone building and programming classes.
The STEMGuyana programme, while ambitious, is one critical tool that will be used to prepare a new generation of Guyanese students for the global technology future.
We believe that investing in students in this way today will pay off massively with a generation of students who will be conditioned to identify problems, to work with teams to come up with solutions and to contribute to every field in Guyana with superior critical thinking, logical analysis, innovation and creative skills.
We also hope to help students understand how they fit in as citizens of the world, how they can impact the world with their ideas and how they can be handsomely rewarded for coming up with these solutions.