This month, two of our 12th graders at KCE II participated in the third annual Young Scientists Kenya National Science & Technology Exhibition, the country’s premier science competition for high school students. The three-day event gives students across Kenya the opportunity to showcase innovative STEM projects they’ve developed and compete for cash and other prizes.
Our students Violet and Vivian, with the support of their math teacher Victor Nyambok, presented a mathematical formula for calculating the surface area of a cuboid and other shapes with identical cross sections. Out of 64 projects developed by 120 students across the country, Violet and Vivian placed second!
It was once unimaginable to them that girls who come from a rural village in a marginalized community could compete in a national event, let alone win an award. “We thought that coming from a rural area meant we were not exposed enough to claim a top position. As we participated, we realized we were gaining more attention than our competitors. The computer training at KCE II has really prepared us to face the world. We did not have any prior training in computer literacy. It wasn’t until we joined KCE II that we got the skills,“ Vivian explains.
Both students hail from Sikawa village in a remote part of Narok County. Violet is the second eldest in her family and has seven siblings. Her parents are small scale farmers, and she aspires to be an engineer after college. Vivian, raised by a single parent, is the youngest of eight siblings. Her mother is also a small scale farmer. Vivian loves physics and hopes to become a neurosurgeon one day.
The National Science & Technology Exhibition was held as a virtual event this year due to COVID-19. In order to participate, Violet and Vivian recorded a video demonstrating how their formula works. The video was then submitted to the judges and later displayed during the official exhibition. Vivian says, “We were excited to watch ourselves in the national exhibition. We were so nervous until we were announced as the second best. We could not believe it!” She adds, “Had it not been for the computer skills and internet connectivity we acquired here, it would not have been possible for us to compete. I cannot imagine the kind of future we’d have without computers.”
When asked how Vivian and Violet came up with the idea for their project, they explained, “We were in a discussion in class on how to calculate the surface area of a cuboid. Then, we joked about creating our own formula because some students had a problem with the conventional procedure. When we suggested the formula, our teacher was excited. He said it was a viable idea and added that we can use it as a project for the exhibition.”
Before making it to the national level, their formula also won awards at county and sub-county competitions. We are incredibly proud of their ingenuity and passion for STEM, and grateful for our dedicated educators who encourage students like Vivian and Violet to see their ideas through.