Two students – Iyad Taher and Tanvi Hirani – have been crowned young scientists of the year for showcasing the best innovation at the 2019 Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science and Technology Exhibition.
Their winning innovation, a Universal Healthcare system, seeks to enable the government and relevant agencies to solve health-related challenges affecting the country. It is established in line with the government’s big four agenda on healthcare.
The two, from SCLP Samaj School, were among 500 students from all the 47 counties who submitted 235 groundbreaking projects and showcased them at the five days YSK exhibition powered by BLAZE at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
They were closely followed by first runners up Sophia Ndunge and Brenda Nkara from Daraja Secondary School with their homemade lift pump innovation which seeks to ease access to borehole water. The pump can be made at home with readily available material.
Present at the closing ceremony of the exhibition, the Deputy President, Dr. William Ruto said for the country to realise its economic blueprint -Vision 2030 – there is need to increase intake of science, technology, engineering and mathematical courses.
“We have a disproportionate focus on the arts and social sciences which do not speak to the core of our development agenda. We must develop bigger interests in STEM courses, which provide critical skills sets, to change our development trajectory,” said Dr. Ruto.
Showcased ideas at the exhibition cut through biology and ecological sciences, chemical, physical and mathematical sciences, social and behavioural sciences and technology categories.
“As a company whose growth is driven by innovation, we are excited by the reception of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and we believe that with the right support, Kenya’s position as Africa’s innovation hub is guaranteed,” said Sylvia Mulinge, chief customer officer, Safaricom.
While opening the exhibition, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Education and that of Industry, Trade, and Cooperatives to develop a framework to secure the Intellectual rights of the students’ ideas that were presented.
“I also direct Kenya Intellectual rights office to patent viable innovations generated during the past, present and future YSK exhibition free of charge,” said the President.
In its second year running, YSK has since scaled its programme from 10 counties in 2018 to all 47 counties in 2019, reaching a total of over 45,000 students across the country.
The scale-up is aimed at inspiring students to take STEM and pursue its pathways through outreach, linkages and extension programmes, and showcase their innovations for further research and commercialization.
The overall winners took home Kshs. 100,000, a scholarship to Strathmore University, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a trip to Ireland to participate in the 2020 BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition.
On the other hand, the first runners-up walked away with Kshs. 80,000, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a fully paid trip to France.