Reflecting on our first successful STEM boot camp, we are jubilant and astounded by the phenomenal synergy we experienced with the children from the various participating schools.
The 25th to 29th of July 2023 was a breakthrough for Uganda Flying Labs as we hosted this vibrant boot camp. It was a fun crowd consisting of analytical, objective, and enthusiastic young scientists between 10 and 16 years old who were always eager to continue their research every day after the lesson. Although friends naturally stuck together during the activities, we witnessed incredible teamwork. Each group had a blend of older and younger participants, and it was warming to see the older ones creating a suitable environment for peer mentorship.
Unlocking STEM Potential
As the Uganda Flying Labs team, we subdivided our work according to our strengths. The participants enjoyed a fusion of discussions and experiments using coding and programming applications on Twin STEM kits for elements in physics, biology, and chemistry. The discussion on DNA and heredity intrigued the class so much that the teacher, Mr. Sam Okhello, had to draw it to a halt due to their over-imaginative inquisitiveness!
Through the activities, the participants thoroughly grasped the functionality of various kit components, from motion and proximity sensors to sound detectors and batteries. The kits’ components were color-coded to align with their functions, allowing ease of learning. In a show of creativity and innovation, the participants designed automated cars and engaged in friendly competitions to showcase their inventions.
Notably, a significant portion of the group consisted of girls motivated to pursue engineering and medicine careers. Their innovations revolved around terrestrial robots, aligning with their ambitious aspirations. Their presence certainly added a unique dynamic to the boot camp.
An Exhibition of Young Engineers
The final two days of the boot camp were dedicated to aviation and drones. Students delved into the rules and regulations of flying and had their first encounters with Holy Stone and DEERC miniature drones, along with compatible software.
Unfortunately, the Holy Stone crashed, and one propeller made a strange sound. Oh, you should have seen how their faces lit up when they managed to restart it! Undeterred by the incident, these young scientists went on the internet after the class to find out how they could repair the drone and check out the reviews of other Holy Stone users. What an exhibition of the engineers in the house! The following morning, they were eager to contribute the solutions they had found from their research. However, we had to put the damaged drone to rest and embark on the next lesson.
The next step was learning about the yaw, roll, and pitch, empowering students to use programming applications from TelloEdu. Every student had an opportunity to plan a mission using the coding language to execute automated flights, flips, and other thrilling maneuvers with a Tello drone. Witnessing these young minds in action, even suggesting commands we hadn’t imagined, was awe-inspiring.
Kampala’s Silicon Valley
The boot camp celebration ignited curiosity, leaving no doubt that brilliant and daring minds illuminate our future. The saying, “Many hands make light work,” rang true throughout this seamless STEM event, and even as the children took the reins during hands-on drone flying, we did not need to be on edge.
Intelligence is an understatement when describing these remarkable young individuals. Being in their presence filled us with satisfaction and hope. As we look ahead, we see the mushrooming of our Silicon Valley in Kampala. It was a humbling experience to be entrusted by parents with these beautiful minds for five days. Their key takeaways were an understanding of drone and robot anatomy and the realization that drones are more than just recreational gadgets – they are tools to address societal challenges. We admired the participants’ unwavering determination to achieve their ambitions, as steady as a rock.
The demand for another week of the boot camp echoed as children who missed it were swayed by their friends’ excitement and asked their parents to enroll them. This marks just the beginning of an exciting journey. The STEM boot camp was undoubtedly a good use of the children’s holiday. Hope is on the horizon!