Project 2: Using Legos to Promote STEM Education
The Rwandan government has announced their economic development plan to include STEM education and gender equity, and we will develop an after school program to support these two inititatives.
LEGO programming and coding kits provide students with hands on experience with STEM, working in a mixed gender team, and creating new products with the LEGO kits.
All students are beginning with the same (minimal) level of skills, and these initiatives will increase students' knowledge and passion for STEM, increase girls confidence, and inspire youth to think entrepreneurally.
In 1994 Rwanda experienced a genocide in which over 800,000 people were killed over a 100 day period leaving the country devastated. Over the last 26 years the country has undergone a period of massive progress that has led to peace and economic improvement.
Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, Rwanda is the 18th poorest country in the world based on GDP per capita. Many of their population lives in poverty and relies on agriculture as their main source of income.
The Rwandan Government has developed a strategic plan -- Vision 2050 -- which projects a rapid shift of their economy from agriculture and natural resources to information technology (IT) and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Gender equality is linked to economic growth, and the Rwandan Government has made efforts to promote women into positions of power. However, stereotypical gender norms and roles for women in the household are still prevalent.
We will align our efforts with Vision 2050 to address:
Limited hands on experience with STEM education and the development of “soft” skills (critical thinking, creativity, teamwork)
Gender inequality in the community and workforce
Lack of employment opportunities and underemployment
Poverty and overall quality of life
We will create a daily, 1.5 hour after school robotics program in primary and secondary schools, and will form student teams to solve robotics challenges that combine LEGOS, problem solving, and coding using the Mindstorm, SPIKE Prime, and WeDo 2.0 kits.
The Lego WeDo 2.0 software teaches programming in an intuitive way – letting students bring their creations to life while sharpening computational thinking skills like logical reasoning, pattern recognition, and modeling simulations. The software also features a colorful drag and drop interface that is easy for students to use and understand.
Each primary school would receive 10 kits of the WeDO 2.0 kits and 10 kits of the SPIKE Primes sets, so there would be younger (1st grade through 5th grade) and older teams (6th grade through 8th grade). Each secondary school would receive 10 of the Mindstorm kits.
Core values would be established and enforced for the teams and leagues to promote gender equity, and serve as the guiding principles for students interaction with one another.
Participants would also learn to run their teams as a business through entrepreneurship workshops, gaining valuable business and entrepreneurship skills.
Our outcomes align with the overall goals of Vision 2050:
Increase student knowledge and inspire curiosity for and experience with STEM activities
Enhance the role of women in technology and increase girl's self-confidence in their abilities by creating a collaborative work environment where boys and girls are exposed to a topic for the first time and are able to contribute equally
Inspire youth to think entrepreneurially using LEGOs as a platform to create new products and in that process, develop skills in problem solving, logic, creativity, and teamwork as well as business management