Contributor: Edna Lyatuu-Hogan

Two secondary school students in Tanzania, Nadhra Mresa and Diana Sosoka, were in attendance at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin.

Declared winners of Tanzania’s Young Scientist competition, they spoke to Yeah! about their project.

What was your project about?

It was about eradicating poverty among women. We made a local incubator machine, for eggs, for women in business. The incubator uses different materials that are found in the environment, items that can be afforded by everyone. The women in Mtwara are poor and they could not afford a standard incubator. The incubator has a large cardboard box, a medium sized box and a small box, into which you can place different bottles of water that will support moisture, holes in the boxes to allow air and to remove smoke, and a kerosene lamp. Inside, you put a tray of eggs, and three conditions are required – a mean temperature, a mean moisture, and air. After twelve days, the chicks hatch. The women are not going to be poor again because they can raise poultry.

And why are you in Ireland? Are you checking out the competition?

Yes, because every first-place winner from Young Scientist Tanzania is given a tour to Ireland to see the Young Scientist exhibition.

What do you think of the projects here?

The exhibition is huge! The projects are very different compared to ours! The competition has a lot more students compared to ours – we just have five hundred or four hundred students, the Irish competition is much bigger.

Nadhra and Diana’s teacher also spoke to us about the school’s input into the project.

RashidiI am Rashidi Namila. I am a teacher of Diana Sosoka and Nadhra Mresa from Mtwara Secondary School in Mtwara, known as Mtwara Girls’. I gave the students instruction in how to develop projects. And I left them to it until they showed me their projects. These two girls came up with the best project as these projects developed, and then we advanced that. And of course last year, they became the winners of the Young Scientist competition in Tanzania.

Your students took something quite simple and made something more complicated that will assist better living, using local materials. It’s very creative, isn’t it?

In Tanzania, we try to employ our culture – including the use of local materials – in how we develop ourselves. We use basic materials from our environment that help transform society from poverty to richness.

And it’s more sustainable than – say – what we would have in Irish culture. In Europe, we’re more consumerist, and it’s a very throwaway society. You’re not sourcing plastics from China. You’re using what you’ve got. And this incubator can help grow small businesses.

We collect the local materials around us in our environment and try to use them so that we can create things to take us from the level we’re at, to the highest level.

Dr Brendan Doggett added that what the Tanzanian Young Scientists are doing – projects such as constructing incubators from cardboard, doing away with the need for more high-tech solutions or a conventional power source – is quite innovative and transformational.

Last year, the project winners were two boys who wanted to eliminate the use of plastic bags – so they were looking at alternatives like banana leaves, and a return to wicker baskets. They were working with a local shop in the town, asking what the optimal price is to charge to discourage people from using plastic bags.

JoeYS

YS Tanzania founders Joseph Clowry and Dr. Kamugisha flank the YS team. Centre: Tanzanian-born Irish poet and entrepreneur Edna Lyatuu-Hogan

Going back to previous years, one project was a drip irrigation system – around this school, the area has suffered drought in recent years, so they asked “What can we do to help the local farmers?” So they used bamboo, they went to the local hospital to get all the waste – plastic piping – and set up a nice little drip irrigation system. What was great is they went straight out to the farmers.

Instead of doing it in the school, they asked “Let us try and do this on your plot.” They said “Let’s just go straight to the source and do it.” So they went to the farms and developed this drip irrigation system instead of trying to replicate and experiment in the school. So, they solve their own problems through the Young Scientist contest.

Kenya is also developing a Young Scientist contest?

Our YST Co-founder, Joseph Clowry, has been advising and guiding Kenya in setting up the Young Scientist model in Kenya since July 2015. In November 2015, Co-Founders Dr. Kamugisha and Joseph also spend a week working with the Irish Embassy in Nairobi. The Irish Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Vincent O’Neill, is driving the project there. It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm for the YS project in Kenya. Dr. O’Neill really believes in the power of the model to help develop a science culture in a developing country. An eight-person delegation from Kenya visited the Young Scientist exhibition in Dar es Salaam in August 2016 to examine all aspects of running the successful exhibition. Following a two-week working visit to Nairobi by Josep in November 2016, the Embassy of Ireland and Ministry of Education in Kenya signed an MOU to work on introducing YS Kenya. It looks like everything is set for the project to take off in Kenya in 2017. We wish them luck and the YS Tanzania team will be available to offer every guidance possible.

You can follow the Tanzanian Young Scientists on Twitter, on Facebook, and at the Tanzania’s Young Scientist web presence.