Engaging Forces Senior High Technical School Students with STEM Skills and Careers

Blog post by Evans Owusu and Gameli Adzaho

Global Lab Network’s outreach initiative dubbed ‘Community Action’ is aimed at spiking the interest of young Ghanaians in STEM, through presentations, workshops, and hands-on activities. It also enables our Community members to give back while building on their planning, organising, leadership, and public speaking skills. 

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Jacob Amengor leading a session on WASH at 2019 Nneka World Changers Camp

Recently, we partnered with Forces Old Students Association (FOSA) to engage current students of Forces Senior High Technical School at Burma Camp, Accra, through a one-day programme. The programme was focused on teaching students to develop their creativity and problem solving skills, and exposing them to a myriad of career opportunities possible with a STEM degree.

In the first session, Gameli Adzaho, who joined the session remotely via Zoom, highlighted the importance of developing creativity and problem-solving skills. He shared tips on how students can become better problem solvers, emphasising the importance of learning, networking, and gaining valuable experiences. Through examples of two young innovators, Kelvin Doe and Richard Turere, the students appreciated that it was possible to find solutions to some common local challenges even with minimal resources. The main takeaway from that session was the importance of applying knowledge gained from STEM to impact lives in local communities and around the world.

Next, Evans Owusu gave a talk on “Physics: the path to 21st century success.” Through this presentation he exposed students to various career options including Law, Education, Environment & Energy, Engineering, Media, Research, Information Technology, Finance, and High-Tech, open to people with STEM backgrounds. He went on to outline the skills one is likely to acquire from studying STEM degrees such as computing, report writing, critical thinking, programming, problem solving, and communication, among others. On key attitudes needed for success in STEM fields, Evans stressed the importance of passion, consistency, determination, resilience, as well as dedication.

Evans presenting to an attentive audience of students

Overall, it was a wonderful experience for the team to support FOSA in their bid to widen the horizons of the students and expose them to new possibilities. Over the past few years, we have been delivering sessions to young people in schools, universities, churches, and communities in both rural and urban areas. Some of the other topics we have covered so far include Design Thinking, Digital Literacy, Science Communication, and Environmental Stewardship. To learn more about Global Lab Network’s activities, kindly like our Facebook page, or if you would like to be more involved you can even join our Community!

Developing Basic Internet Safety and Media Literacy Skills

Report on our May 2021 Community Call

Seeing is not always believing and sharing is not always caring

Vanessa Otchere

Have you ever considered your safety on the internet? In an era where practically everything is going digital, with many activities transitioning online, one should be concerned about how to be safe online.  As many online interactions involve sharing personal data and leaving digital footprints on the web, many individuals, companies and countries have increasingly become concerned about cyber safety and the ramifications of privacy breaches. 

Another issue worthy of concern is our ability to tell whether the information we receive through online platforms is accurate. This is crucial since we make important decisions based on what we know, which is increasingly influenced by what we interact with online. We run the risk of being misinformed on key topics like climate change, political happenings, and the COVID-19 pandemic if we do not take care to properly evaluate information we receive. 

In an effort to increase awareness on cybersecurity and media literacy, this month’s Community Call was focused on exploring the concept and practice of internet safety and mis/disinformation. We were joined by three knowledgeable speakers on the Cyber Security to share tips on how to stay safe on the internet.

The session began with a brief round of introductions from participants and invited speakers. The first speaker, Confidence Mawusi, set the ball rolling by delineating the objectives for the session. In his opening statements he mentioned that “in our normal environment we have personal safety measures, however we pay least attention to our safety online”. He  defined online safety as acting safe on the internet and taking precautions to be safe. Confidence went ahead to state some internet threats and risks based on the actor/ internet user and threats based on devices. Some cases included cyberbullying, cyber dating abuse and sexting. He further shared a personal story of his experience with ransomware and stated other threats targeted at user devices: spam, adware, phishing and keyloggers.

After exploring the concepts and examples of internet risks, Confidence further shared some pointers on how to detect phishing and discussed malware and malware detection and prevention. Touching on Media Literacy, Confidence quoted Mark Twain “A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots.” to illustrate how fast fake news travels. He shared how the human desire to satisfy curiosity hastens the proliferation of fake news. Confidence illustrated the difference between misinformation and disinformation and shared some approaches to break the cycle of disinformation. Some examples include fact checking and reading complete articles.

Computers will be computers , technology will be technology, in the end it is ethics and philosophy that will help us’

Next, Vanessa Otchere took off by explaining the key terminologies; Infodemic, disinformation, misinformation, malinformation, media and information literacy. 

She discussed the social psychology behind mis and disinformation which included the filter bubble, heuristics – mental shortcuts that help people solve problems quickly – and confirmation bias – interpreting and recalling information that reinforces our beliefs. Some practices she recommended to verify information were: comparing multiple sources of information, checking URLs, and being aware of underlying agenda of the information source. She concluded on the note “the ecosystem of information is a complex one and so is the technological age in which we live in. It’s everyone’s responsibility to verify information before sharing.” The session continued with participants offering feedback and sharing their filter bubbles.

Obasegun Ayodele of VilSquare in Nigeria joined us to share his work on the Glass Room project which is focused on how best to tackle fake news across Africa. Following the deeply engaging and incisive discussion, the session was concluded by Confidence sharing three helpful hints;

Social media will affect your mental health. On the internet, if you are not buying the product, you are the product and also, the internet never forgets. `Its either you have been hacked or about to be hacked.

Confidence Mawusi

After the revealing presentations and discussion, the event ended with a networking session.

You are welcome to be a part of the Global Lab Ghana Community on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be updated on our various activities.

Another exciting Science Cafe session is loading. Make a date with us!

Project Management – a Key Skill for Success in STEM

A report on our April 2021 Community Call with Edison Gbenga

Video recording from Community Call session.

Today, project management runs across a variety of sectors and industries. Many companies have embraced project management as a way to cut down cost, reduce risk and deliver on organizational goals. In the STEM industry, project management skills give you the ability to work with the increasing levels of complexities associated with projects in software development, bioscience research and health education. As a result, there is increasing demand for project management skills and knowledge.

In the Community Call session held in the month of April, we were led by Edison Gbenga to discuss a broad overview of Project Management with a focus on the approaches – Agile and Waterfall.

Edison Gbenga is a Business Strategist, Tech Evangelist and a Serial Entrepreneur. Since 2012, he has been serving as a strategist, coach and consultant for business owners and business developers of all sizes. His line of work ranges from business strategy consulting to process design and management  as well as web and mobile applications development. 

Edison began his presentation by giving a brief definition of project management. He described project management as the skill of moving from idea to results. In his presentation, he emphasised that project management permeates our daily lives; from planning a wedding to managing a country. He further indicated that project management has little to do with tools, procedures and recipes but more to do with mindset, practice and culture.

A good project manager knows how to solve problems, delegates effectively, works to meet deadlines and builds consensus.

Edison Gbenga

Following the introductory session, Edison proceeded to give a synopsis on two approaches to project management; Agile and Waterfall. He further described the SCRUM framework in Agile and how it helps teams work together. He delivered a detailed exposition on the two approaches and further discussed the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches. One major difference Edison illustrated in the two approaches is the iterative nature Agile employs between product design and testing as compared to the sequential order Waterfall follows. He reiterated the importance of team work, focus and discipline to project success.

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session, where Edison presented insightful answers based on his experience in working on varied projects. Some of the questions asked by participants include: How should a Project Manager manage non-compliant team members? What are the top skills needed to successfully implement a project? What products can we design to get people interested in STEM. 

Key Takeaways: What is Crucial to Project Success?

  • Having a solid team.
  • Managing people and dealing with negativity.
  • Understanding the time requirements of each task.
  • Emotional Intelligence and comprehension.

To learn more about ‘Developing Basic Internet Safety and Media Literacy Skills’ in our next Community Call to be held on May 28, 2021, you’re welcome to join the Global Lab Ghana Community on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be updated on our various activities.

Gauging the Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Individuals

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented changes in the lives of general populations worldwide. Its effects have been witnessed in the loss of lives, challenges in public health and changes in national economies. A large number of individuals have experienced mental health challenges, loss of jobs or loved ones and some have remained unaffected by the pandemic.

During the Science Cafe organised on March 26, 2021, a poll was designed to gauge the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown on the participants present. Out of a total of thirty-six (36) attendants, 27 individuals participated in the poll. It must be noted that most of the participants are from the Ghanaian middle class based in Ghana or abroad. Below are the results. 

 Key Questions & Responses

  1. Did the pandemic affect your productivity?
  2. Will life return to normal with the vaccines?
  3. Did the pandemic affect your mental health?

Graphical Presentation of Responses

 In response to the question: Did the pandemic affect your productivity? 52% equalling 14 participants, stated that they were more productive during the pandemic, whilst 33% equalling 9 participants were less productive and 15%, a total of 4 respondents reported they experienced no change.  

In the second question, participants were asked to share their views on whether life will return to normal with the vaccines. 6 people agreed that life will return to normal, while a majority with 41%, 11 in total disagreed. 10 people out of 27, totalling a whooping 37% could not say if life would or would not return to normal with the vaccinations.

When participants were asked if the pandemic affected their mental health, 52%, 14 participants reported that the pandemic had affected their mental health, whilst 37% totalling 10 participants stated that the pandemic had no effect on their mental health. 11% of the respondents,3 individuals reported that they could not determine the changes .

This report represents the views of a small sample size of people and thus may not be generalised to larger populations. However, a great deal can be learnt from social science research on the attitudes and responses of communities and countries towards the C0vid-19 pandemic. This can inform strategies and innovations targeted at working towards a holistic recovery and preparing for more calculated responses for future generations.

If there is any research you find interesting, kindly share with us in the comments section.

Join the Global Lab Ghana Community and follow us on Twitter and on YouTube to stay updated on our events.

Building Individual and Collective Resilience Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis

Report on Science Cafe held on March 2021

People who want to get things done will find a way to get it done, irrespective of the pandemic

Ato Ulzen-Appiah

This month we partnered with Ghana STEM Network to have an amazing discussion on the notion of resilience in a time of profound global change by examining experiences, reflections, research findings, and imaginations of what the future could look like or should be like, as part of our Science Cafe Series. We were also supported by GhScientific and Digital Times Africa. The event attracted about 36 participants from different fields of endeavour.

Snapshot of participants in the session.

What has the crisis changed? How can we weave through present and future challenges wrought by the pandemic? What does ‘resilience’ mean for us as individuals, Ghanaians, and global citizens? 

Key questions explored during the session

The program started with a brief presentation by Gameli Adzaho on Global Lab Network and Science Cafe, Evelyn Agyepong set the ball rolling by sharing some personal and global perspectives on the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to her thematic question ‘what has the crisis changed?’ Evelyn asked, `What hasn’t it changed’.  She discussed the challenges she faced as a leader and an educator in including new technologies in teaching and the accompanying personal stresses in connecting with family and loved ones.  In sharing her coping mechanisms with us, Evelyn disclosed that she engaged in science education with the public to increase knowledge on the virus and best practices to avoid its spread and connected with her family online through video calls and online games. Evelyn ended the discussion on the key note that

Evelyn Agyepong sharing personal and global perspectives on resilience

We will move forward, but life as we know it has definitely changed

Evelyn Agyepong

Ato Ulzen-Appiah of the Ghana Think Tank joined us to share some examples of individuals who have been resilient during the lockdown and the crisis as a whole. He mentioned how Ernest Tsifodze, who does a lot of work around motivational speaking, was able to go virtual, bringing people across Ghana together online for continued impact. Ato further stated that more people need to share how they’ve been able to cope with the pandemic to increase knowledge and awareness on how other individuals can do the same. He asserted that, in the midst of the pandemic, people who want to get things done will find a way to get it done irrespective of the current crisis, citing examples of Accra Konnect and Kumasi Konnect, as responses to the challenge of  physical meetups. 

Dr Thomas Tagoe giving his presentation

Dr Thomas Tagoe who is a Neuroscientist, Science Communicator and the Co-founder of GhScientific, discussed resilience from a neuroscience angle. Among the key points he posited on how to cope and subsequently thrive during the crisis include:

  • Acceptance; accepting that we may not be able to go back to the old way of doing things and usual outputs may have to be adjusted. Research has shown that by coming to terms with whatever context one finds themselves in, it is easier for new patterns and behaviors to develop.
  • Considering motivation and linking that with a cognitive approach; behavioural change occurs within people along two angles, the motivational element which involves the will to change and the more cognitive approach which deals with the how. This includes finding alternative approaches to achieving goals.
  • Community building; The mere idea of knowing that someone else is in the same situation you are in makes one feel better and helps with dealing with acceptance. It makes adjusting to new situations easier on the mind. 
  • Cognitive control;” People who have cognitive control have the ability to connect goals with actions”. He averred that it may seem obvious but our brains and our mental wellbeing is such that anything we are capable of is broken into the minimum components. Connecting actions to goals  is most critical for well-being, because mental health is the basis for resilience. 

Following the incisive presentation from Dr Thomas Tagoe, Solomon Appekey of the Ghana Planetarium and X Space Solutions gave us an eye-opening presentation  by taking us back 100 years on how the universe developed. Solomon discussed how the universe developed and explored the lessons we can learn from the growth in astronomical developments and how those lessons can be helpful during the current crisis.

Snapshot from Solomon Appekey’s presentation

Cecil Senna Nutakor joined us to share his views on some personal benefits of the pandemic. In his words “why the pandemic was supercool”, he lamented on how it had to take the occurrence of a pandemic to step up leadership in the country. According to him, the pandemic has drawn the government’s attention to infrastructural development, and the need to upgrade education (investing in digital) and health systems. In his recommendations on how we can forge ahead, he proposed an inclusive process in policy making process, a bottom-up approach in tackling the current crisis and fostering continued growth. 

After the submissions from the speakers, the participants broke into smaller sessions to share their perspectives on how they have been resilient during the crisis and ended the session with a group photograph.

Talk of #impactfromabus ! We had two speakers on long distance journeys joining us from a bus . You can definitely join us on our next Community Call via the Global Lab Ghana Community. Follow us on twitter and on Youtube to stay updated on our events.

If you’re interested in sharing your research or STEM-based project at a future Science Cafe, you’re welcome to register via this link.

See you in our upcoming Community Call next month!

Facilitating Science-Society Discourses in Ghana through the Science Cafe Model

Gameli Adzaho writes on Global Lab Network’s Science Cafe journey so far, from the very first event in August 2018 to our upcoming roundtable with the Ghana STEM Network.

Science Cafe is a knowledge exchange and networking platform that connects scientists, innovators, and the general public to promote community dialogue and scientific inquiry in informal venues like cafes, bookstores, restaurants and bars. We found the model quite interesting and yet simple so we decided to try it out.

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Darlington Ahiale Akogo leads the first Global Lab Science Cafe (360 shot by Barnabas Nomo)

During our very first Science Cafe in August 2018, which was actually part of a series co-initiated with minoHealth dubbed ‘Conversations about Artificial Intelligence’, AI Innovator Darlington Ahiale Akogo gave a talk about AI and how it could influence development on the continent. Since then Global Lab Network has organised six editions, featuring researchers and innovators in public health, technology, mathematics, biotechnology, WASH, urban planning, environmental science, and public policy. These conversations have been useful in re-emphasising the importance of science, technology, and innovation to national development.

DateTopicSpeaker(s)FormatVenue
17 Aug 2018Conversations about Artificial IntelligenceDarlington Ahiale AkogoTalkVida e Caffe, East Legon
19 Jan 2019Co-Design: The Secret to Sustainable WASH InnovationsJacob AmengorPresentationTEMPORARY GARDEN, Airport West
31 May 2019Science & Society: Understanding the Connections between Research, Policy & Practice1. Dr Dzifa Adjaye-Gbewonyo
2. Amma Aboagye
Fireside chatAfrican Science Academy, Tema
29 Nov 2019Enabling Research & Innovation for Sustainable Development1. Dr Angela Tabiri
2. Daniel Osei Ofosu
3. Nii-Ashie “Nash” Adjaye
Talk + Panel Impact Hub Accra
31 Jan 2020What Has Diversity Got to Do with Information Technology Design?Nana Kesewaa DankwaPresentationVida e Caffe, Accra Financial Centre
22 Aug 2020The Coronavirus Crisis – What it Means for Public Health and Wellbeing1. Princess Allotey
2. Dr Mary
3. Eyram Ashinyo
4. Joseph Sam
PresentationGoogle Meet
2 Dec 2020Science & Politics – Exploring STEM Policy Ideas for Election 20201. Fred Otu Larbi
2. Dr Kwame Sarpong Asiedu
3. Dr Andani Kholinar
4. Paul Osei-Kuffour
Roundtable Zoom
Summary of previous Science Cafe events

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, we have moved all our events, including Science Cafes, online, and this has allowed people from around the world to join the various sessions.

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Princess Allotey sharing about data modelling to predict the course of COVID-19 in Africa

Reviews received from Science Cafe speakers and participants after the events have been very positive and encouraging. Aside from learning new things, most attendees also enjoy the interactivity and camaraderie the event evokes. In the good old days before corona, some of us would even stay behind to share food and drinks, talking until it was late.

We’re very glad to be collaborating with the Ghana STEM Network, with support from GhScientific and Digital Times Africa to organise the first Science Cafe of 2021 on Friday 26 March. The theme for this event is “Building Individual and Collective Resilience Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis“. Our goal is discuss the notion of resilience in a time of profound global change by examining experiences, reflections, research findings, and imaginations of what the future could look like or should be like. Some of the key questions we would like to explore include:

  1. What has the crisis changed?
  2. What does ‘resilience’ mean for us as individuals, Ghanaians, and global citizens?
  3. How can we weave through present and future challenges wrought by the pandemic?
  4. How can we utilise available opportunities to build a better future?
  5. What are examples of Ghanaians who have been resilient in these times?
Publicity for March 2021 Science Cafe

Speakers from different professional and disciplinary backgrounds have been drawn from the Ghana STEM Network and beyond to help address these questions. They include Ato Ulzen-Appiah (GhanaThink Foundation), Dr Thomas Tagoe (GhScientific & University of Ghana), Evelyn Agyepong (Independent Education Consultant), Cecil Nutakor (eCampus LLC), and Solomon Appekey (Ghana Planetarium & X Space Solutions). Each speaker will give an input talk at the beginning. Following the input talks, the session will open up for discussions, debates, questions, and responses.

From our experience, Science Cafe has proven to be an effective model of engaging the public with science, technology, and innovation, and further closing the chasm between science and society. Our goal in GLab is to facilitate these conversations and experiences, so that science is embedded in the cultural life of Ghana. If this vision appeals to you, you’re very welcome to join our upcoming Science Cafe or a future edition. RSVP here if you can make it on Friday. See you!

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Group picture of participants after Science Cafe as part of Africa Science Week 2019

STEM at Work – Perspectives from Business and Volunteering

Community Call – February

Now more than ever, the interrelated fields of Science Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) make the world go round. STEM skills are required in diverse settings – in research, industry, and in society. In the month of February, Global Lab Network’s Community Call proved to be very insightful, engaging and beneficial, providing crucial perspectives on STEM at work in business and volunteering. We learnt from speakers Florence Toffa and Sarah Abotsi-Masters on 26 February via Zoom. 

Snapshot of some of the participants in the call

STEM in Business – Perspectives from Mobile Web Ghana

The meeting began with Florence Toffa discussing the mission and vision of Mobile Web Ghana. Mobile Web Ghana is focused on creating a generation of tech change agents and leaders who will use their skills to solve local problems in the community. She iterated that especially during the pandemic there has been a need to hone the skills of different target audiences to be able to fit into various industries. When it comes to work, the pandemic has disrupted how work is done across the board. Florence stated that STEM is critical in every aspect of work.

As a worker, there is the need to rethink how to integrate STEM to make you more efficient. Even as a mom, STEM can be very helpful. A lot has changed, things are not normal and you can not continue to do things the way you do it. We have to redefine the way our work is done.”

Further, she stated that in the current era, employing technology in your work  will greatly improve visibility. “Sometimes STEM is seen in isolation, however you need to involve the community”. She emphasized that  STEM can be deployed in various organizations and combining STEM with various disciplines has the potential to yield huge results.

In conclusion Florence re-emphasized that STEM presents a big opportunity to teach and involve communities to achieve desired change.

Mobile Web Ghana supports capacity building in communities

Volunteering to Make a Difference

Sarah Abotsi-Masters took us on a journey into ‘Astronomy Activities and Volunteering in Ghana’. In her own words, “astronomy is a gateway science”, meaning it is a great way to get children and individuals interested in science. She stated that astronomy is relevant in giving perspective and promoting environmentalism and global citizenship. It also attempts to answer the big questions. Sarah asserted that a lot can be done with space science.

Astronomy is connected to everything. In Ghana , you see very little science journalism and involvement and so little engagement with astronomy. So much can be done  with space science and satellite technology: monitoring galamsey, monitoring coast erosion, monitoring natural disasters and land use.” 

She stated that Ghana can gain a lot from exploring and developing space science.

Sarah concluded her presentation by discussing reasons and benefits of volunteering in the STEM field. These include:

  • Giving back to the community
  • Developing new skills
  • Building your experience, gaining confidence and improving self esteem
  • Meeting new people.

In her closing words she reaffirmed, “Only volunteer because you actually want to. Do the work that is needed and be committed”.

Watch the chat on our YouTube channel and join the Global Lab Ghana Community to stay up to date on our events.

Building Networks and Strengthening Capacities through ‘Community Calls’

Global Lab Community Call series brings people together to share and learn online.

‘Community Call’ is an interactive monthly online gathering of GLab community members to exchange ideas on relevant topics in order to improve their knowledge and skills in a STEM area. The calls started in response to the COVID19 pandemic in June 2020, when it became impossible to meet physically. Since then four Community Call sessions have been held, in which we discussed various topics ranging from open science and sustainable development, renewable energy, applying to postgraduate programmes and scholarships, and open community labs.

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Some topics of interest shared by GLab members during the ‘open labs’ session

In our first Community Call for the year 2021, we discussed remote working and how it is done. We had the opportunity to talk to Ato Ulzen-Appiah, who is a (social) entrepreneur, consultant, social media influencer and blogger. Ato shared some insightful information on some recommended tools for remote working, how to optimise for productivity, accountability when remote working, and how to build one’s capacity to work remotely.

May be an image of 2 people and text that says "Global Lab LE. COMMUNITY CALL STEM at Work Perspectives from Business and Volunteering Florence Toffa Director, Mobile Web Ghana 26 February, 2021 5:45 7:00 PM GMT Get event details via: 'Global Lab Ghana Community' on Facebook Email team@glabnetwork.org for inquiries Sarah Abotsi-Masters General Secretary, African Astronomical Society @GLabNetwork"

In this Community Call we will explore STEM at work, in business and society. We will discuss:

      • Importance of STEM in the modern business setting
      • Volunteering on STEM programmes
      • Honing your skill set and anticipating new trends
      • Interesting career paths in STEM
      • Engaging the public with Science

Florence Toffa has over eight years of experience in the ICT4D sector. She is the director of Mobile Web Ghana, a technology hub that focuses on empowering communities, organisations and the youth to leverage on mobile, web and data to solve problems. She is an advocate for solving local problems through civic engagement, capacity building and new technology, and has led and founded projects such as Females in Mobile Entrepreneurship, visuals for gender, and Africa Digital Skills Conference . 

Sarah is the General Secretary of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS), a National Astronomy Education Coordinator (NAEC) for Ghana for the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE), and a member of the PRAGSAC project team (Promoting Radio Astronomy in Ghana through School Visits and Astronomy Clubs), which uses astronomy to promote STEM and hands-on science through school astronomy clubs.

This month’s community call promises to be exciting and informative. Join us at Global Lab Ghana Community to find out more and stay updated on future plans.

Increasing Awareness about Air Quality through Open Data

Report by Ewoenam Kukah (DiV) & Gameli Adzaho

Air quality is a growing public health concern in fast developing and urbanising communities, contributing to about 7 million deaths globally every year. In Ghana, some estimates hold that poor air quality contributes to 17000 deaths per year. It is also recognised as one of the fastest rising causes of ill health. Unfortunately because poor air quality is often invisible, its danger to our wellbeing could be missed. Monitoring and sharing information about air pollution in an area over  time could help governments, community groups, and citizens identify ‘trouble spots’ and collaboratively work out solutions to improve local air quality. The tech community can also contribute to this effort, by building tools and information resources, as well as being part of the dialogue, to create sustainable change in our communities.

In May 2018, the Accra OpenAQ Workshop brought together a community of local and international individuals and organisations working towards the goal of better air quality in Ghana. One key output of this two-day engagement was a Community Statement on Air Quality in Ghana which highlights some challenges of air quality in Ghana as well as opportunities for positive impact, one of which includes collection and access to better data on air quality. 

As part of the Next Einstein Forum Africa Science Week 2018, Global Lab Network and Developers in Vogue partnered to organize a Datathon (data science hackathon) which challenged participants to use open data to explore air quality in Accra. It was held at the Workshed in Spintex, Accra on Saturday, 29th September 2018. Participants were grouped into teams and tasked to analyse research data on air quality to produce outputs that could draw the attention of the government and the public to ‘air inequality’ in Accra. This included data visualisations/infographics, maps, predictive models and app and website prototypes.

Before the datathon, the NEF Ambassador to Ghana, Peter Asare-Nuamah, gave an overview of NEF and its goal of transforming science in Africa. Africa Science Week is one of its initiatives aimed at popularising science on the continent. Gameli Adzaho of Global Lab then presented the challenge, by giving an overview of air quality and examples of how to fight ‘air inequality’ with open data.

Judges

The following individuals graciously volunteered to be judges for the event:

  1. Dr. Jamal Abdullai – Head of Department, Computer Science Department, University of Ghana.
  2. Gameli Adzaho       – Founder, Global Lab Network
  3. Darlington Akogo   – Founder, minoHealth
  4. Richard Bempong   – Co-founder, the Workshed

Teams

There were 15 groups of four or five members. The teams and their projects are as follows:

Team Alpha Integrating the air quality index of locations into apps like Uber and Google maps
Team Breezy An app that notifies users of changes in air quality through app notifications and SMS
EmavData*   A database that uses machine learning to track trends in air quality
Zigma   Constant monitoring of slums which are linked to poor air quality
Data Rangers   Use of social media campaign to fight air pollution
O2 An API to know the levels of air quality by sending a short code and location of interest
C++   Sensors that collect air quality information and send a broadcast message to those in the area of low air quality
Team Komplex   A dashboard containing a display of air quality data in a graphical form.   
Team Revo   Social media and TV notification of levels of air quality  
Team Bheed   A web map showing a location distribution of air quality and associated data including a routing feature.
Team Naa2MT*   An automatic prediction template to help the EPA predict air pollution in any location.
Team Smocy   A graph showing the air quality levels and linking those levels to causes based on the locations.
Data Ginie   Visualizing the least and highest levels of air quality using Tableau, ANOVA and R.
ECSR   An Excel based analysis solution with interactive visualization showing the ‘intensity distribution’ of air quality levels. 

Out of these incredibly innovative teams, Emav Data, Team Naa2MT and Team Alpha placed 1st to 3rd respectively.  All victorious teams received cash prizes and certificates for their outstanding solutions.

NEF Ambassador Peter Asare-Nuamah presents certificate to one of the winners

Recommendations

The programme went really well and many of the participants openly expressed their delight. However, there were some suggestions on how we can improve the programme for future events:

  1. Have fewer groups with a larger number of members in order not to have an unusually long event.
  2. Have a longer time period for the Datathon, eg, two days, so that the participants will have more time to work on the problem statement.

Appreciation

Thank you to Next Einstein Forum Africa Science Week for the opportunity to host this event. We’re equally grateful to Open AQ, who offered guidance and gave us access to data on their platform, and Dr Pallavi Pant of Air South Asia for supporting our preparation through the Open Data and Air Quality Toolkit.

Group picture of some of the participants and organisers

Engaging Young Innovators in Kumasi with Innovation Clinic

Report by Sandra Ahiataku

InnoClinic_Ksi
Mr Foster Ofosu of Ideas2Market Foundation leads participants to explore innovation in depth

The second edition of Innovation Clinic was held in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. The event was a collaboration between Idea2Market Foundation, Global Lab Network and Kumasi Hive. It was held on 24 February 2018 at the event space of Kumasi Hive in the evening.

About 32 participants including entrepreneurs, lecturers, and students attended the programme. It was structured as an engaging dialogue curated by Mr Foster Ofosu of Idea2Market. Interspersed with the conversations were entertainment sessions incuding poetry performance by Peter Akanko of Kente Master and music by guitarist Daniel Yirenkyi Junior.

The main speaker, Mr Foster Ofosu, led an open and interactive discussion, which was fun and worth listening to. He emphasised taking note of the barriers to innovation and developing strategies to overcome them. Some definitions of innovation offered by participants included ‘applying imagination’, ‘reworking an old solution’, ‘solving a problem’, etc. Foster stressed the need for prospective innovators to focus on the needs of the end-user and come up with solutions they would be willing to pay for. His presentation was followed by a question and answer session. A key discussion point that came up was how the environment tends to limit female innovators.

There was a refreshment session during which food and drinks were served, and participants networked among themselves.

Feedback gathered from attendees indicated that the session was exciting and interactive. The event was mostly patronised by students which created the opportunity for them to be familiarised with the latest trends in innovation. In the future, it would be great to reach out to more people from different backgrounds to enrich the conversation with their diverse insights.

Joy News and Luv FM covered the event, and interviewed selected attendees, organisers and the speaker after the programme.

The Kumasi edition of Innovation Clinic was successful thanks to the contributions and enthusiasm of the participants, and the hard work put in by the partners namely Kumasi Hive, Idea2Market Foundation, and Global Lab Network.

Sandra Ahiataku is a Business Associate at Kumasi Hive. She is a graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a degree in Computer Science.