Winning Young Scientists Kenya to be announced at the National Science and Technology Exhibition

The winners of the national Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) competition will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at the KICC today (Wednesday 7 August).

Leaders from Government, business and civil society will present a range of prizes and scholarships to Kenya’s top students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths.

The overall winners will receive a cash prize, a trip to Ireland to participate in the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in January 2020 and full scholarships, courtesy of Strathmore University.

In total, some KES 120,000 will be awarded to students, while all winners will participate in a business bootcamp and mentoring process in December 2019 to support them to turn their ideas into commercially viable propositions and learn about career opportunities in STEM.

Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Ireland and BLAZE by Safaricom officially launched the second National Exhibition on Saturday 3rd August.

The Patron of YSK,  HE President Uhuru Kenyatta, presided over the launch of the competition, which will run until tomorrow {Weds} and is open to the public.

Some 460 students from across Kenya are presenting their science and technology projects at the national exhibition, an increase from last year where 184 students presented 92 projects.

The expanded high school outreach was in response to a challenge from H.E President Kenyatta last year, where he tasked the YSK organising team to roll the programme out across the country as part of national efforts to promote Kenya as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

On Saturday, H.E. President Kenyatta toured the exhibition and viewed the students’ projects; many of which seek to realize the President’s Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 by identifying local solutions to problems faced by the young people in their communities. These included research in topical areas such as cancer treatment and green power, development of apps and protoypes for improved voting or home security, and gadgets for water recycling or trapping mosquitos.

In his address at the YSK Opening Ceremony, President Kenyatta directed state agencies to secure intellectual property rights for the young innovators and instructed the Kenya Intellectual Property Rights Office to offer free patents to viable innovations generated during the YSK exhibition.

“Further, and to encourage linkages with industry, I similarly direct a waiver of trademark fees with respect to all innovations emanating from Young Scientist Exhibition, beginning from 2018,” the president announced.

The National Exhibition is designed to spur innovation among young people in Kenya and complements existing initiatives such as the Ministry of Education’s Kenya Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF). Finalists from KSEF are among the hundreds of exhibitors at the YSK National Exhibition, along with students from ASAL regions, special needs schools and urban settlements.

“The application of the innovative projects and ideas is crucial to achieving the Big 4 Agenda, which is only possible if youth embrace Science, Technology and Innovation and connect with the STEM ecosystem,” said Dr Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Education, State Department of Vocational and Technical Training and Chairperson of the YSK Board.

Fionnuala Quinlan, Ambassador of Ireland to Kenya said: “The Young Scientists competition in Ireland has been running for more than 54 years and has helped transform Ireland into a knowledge-based economy and a leader in innovation. We are delighted to share our experience with Kenya, help embed STEM skills in schools and contribute to building the country’s vibrant innovation culture.”

With the theme: Making STEM education accessible to all, YSK has since March, been conducting outreach activities in secondary schools around the country aimed at engaging students to take up STEM courses. 

“Our continued investment in innovation and research is driven by the fact that as a telecommunications company, our growth and survival is primarily based on those two things. By partnering with YSK, we aim to ease access to quality education and make STEM courses “cool” for young people to pursue,” said Charles Wanjohi, Safaricom’s Director Consumer Business Unit.

BLAZE has sponsored the high school outreach programme and national exhibition to a tune of KES 45 million in cash and kind, which is in line with Safaricom’s commitment to the sustainable development goals. Other partners include the Institute of Physics of Ireland, Concern Worldwide, Trócaire, Self Help Africa, Kartridges Kenya and KenGen.

In 2018, Wilson Irungu and Abdulrahman Sheikh Ali from Nakuru High School were the winners of the inaugural YSK contest with a revolutionary Internet-based energy monitoring and audit system concept.

As a result of their victory, Irungu and Ali got a chance to go on a fully paid trip to Ireland to participate in the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition between 9th and 12thJanuary 2019.

“Young Scientist Kenya is more than an exhibition, it has provided us with training, mentorship and international exposure. I would like to encourage all the competitors here today to continue improving their ideas and innovation and winning is not the end but the beginning of a new experience,” said Irungu. Kenya Power and Lighting Company has already stepped in to incubate and commercialise this winning innovation.

news courtesy of britsinkenya