Stimulating Curiosity in Science
I am Science

I am Science logo Image supplied

A major contributor to the gender digital divide is inequitable access to education for girls - and this gap has increased in developing countries since 2013. With the "I Am Science" project, we are introducing a video-sharing app that offers step by step instructions for doing fun, safe and easy science activities at home, and the chance to be rewarded with data and airtime. 

Aimed at early high school girls in disadvantaged urban areas, the project aims to promote curiosity in science and critical thinking among future generations. I Am Science contributes towards the #eskills4girls initiative, which has been identified as one of the G20 deliverables and seeks to empower women and girls for the digital transformation.

Only when Africa addresses its massive science and technology skills shortage can it achieve sustainable economic and social development. But this shortage will remain as long as the gender disparity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) does. Only about 39% of science researchers in South Africa are women. Globally, this figure is even worse and stands at 30%. These figures can be attributed to the many barriers society sets in front of women in their pursuit of science careers such as family-caring and the perpetuation of damaging gender stereotypes.

In South Africa the poorly resourced public education system is also a major contributor. Only about 18% of South Africa’s schools have science labs and many of their science teachers are poorly trained. This means that, at a watershed moment in their development, children often view science as too difficult or uninspiring and therefore do not choose to continue learning science until the end of school. This closes the door to studying science at university, and ultimately, the opportunity to becoming a science professional. Even if children do choose to study it until the end of school, inadequate exposure to tangible science activities limits their grasp of scientific concepts. Within this context, the I Am Science or Digital Access to Knowledge project aims, in the long term, to inspire a sustained curiosity and increased engagement in science among girls while developing critical thinking; increased participation in a Smart Future and, ultimately, propelling them towards science-related careers.
 
“I Am Science” combines exciting science activities, video and digital learning in a two-week programme which is rolled out at different schools. By creating entertaining and accessible science videos, presented by girls, the project hopes to increase curiosity in science and shift perceptions about girls in science. As American activist Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can't be what you can't see”.
In 2017, I Am Science has implemented programmes at three Gauteng schools. Short, professional videos of girls from Soweto, Tembisa and Alex doing exciting, hands-on science activities have been uploaded to YouTube as well as turned into video quizzes and published on local learning app Levelup. The app allows teen users to earn digital tokens for submitting correct answers, which are redeemable for airtime and data.

The project will expand into other African countries in 2018.

Click here to visit the project website.

I Am Science is realised within the initiative “Digital Access To Knowledge”. Digital Access to Knowledge is a project by the Goethe-Institut South Africa with financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Goethe-Institut and supported by GIZ.

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