STEMpower News

Case University – STEMpower – Ethiopia STEM Initiative

STEMpower envisions a technologically-developed, economically-independent, and self-sustaining Ethiopia-Africa. The organization continuously stretches its hand to reach pre-university students in urban cities as well as in remote areas of Ethiopia to cultivate the scientist in every child. STEMpower brought key allies in realizing its vision effectively and efficiently such as the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) known as case University. Case University is a major US university located in Cleveland, Ohio. This historic engineering school has been developing a Chemical Engineering curriculum applicable for Ethiopian STEM Centers funded and established by the Gelfand Family Charity Trust (GFCT) - STEMpower

In March 2019, a team from Case University visited four STEM Centers, Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT), Gondar University, Bahir Dar University, and Foka-Bishoftu Center, in the Central and Northern part of Ethiopia to demonstrated the lab coursework and to get feedback on the curriculum. Each visit included a lab demonstration of saponification - the making of soap from plant-based materials.

The Case Western University acknowledged the dedication and work of the founder of GFCT-STEMpower as follows ( 

The initiative is funded by a commitment from philanthropist Mark Gelfand, who previously endowed Case Western Reserve’s Leonard Gelfand STEM Center in honor of his uncle, who attended the former Case Institute of Technology and graduated as an electrical engineer.

Throughout Ethiopia, Gelfand has built a network of 30 schools and STEM centers that provide high-quality education for thousands of students each year. The initiative will partner with this network, to have a widespread impact. 

By all accounts, the visit exceeded the team’s expectations. Hundreds of pre-university students at the STEM Centers were highly engaged with the experiment. Students also raised many questions which led to further discussion and modification of the Chemistry Engineering curriculum. 

On a larger scale, the visit served as the kick-off for the Case University Gelfand Global STEMpower Initiative, which will involve Ethiopian STEM Centers and Universities.  We hope the initiative will expand to other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa.

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First Welcome – Gondar EEWB Conference, December 2018

Welcome to the STEMpower community. We are the innovative nonprofit that is bringing STEM enrichment across Ethiopia and Sub -Saharan African countries. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The story of STEMpower began thirteen years ago in Ethiopia, as an exploratory initiative by the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust (“GFCT”). At the time, Ethiopian universities were just beginning to add engineering and science lab curricula. The GFCT believed that their best impact would be to educate pre-university students, offering them hands-on lab-based STEM education.

Implementation wasn’t easy. Establishing a STEM Center was a lengthy process with daunting sequence of steps: securing permits, constructing the buildings, importing the lab equipment, hiring the lab mentors, and enrolling the students. Moreover, there were no models of pre-university STEM enrichment curricula to work from.

Yet within a few years, we were creating a national network of STEM Centers and programs.The founders of STEMpower have been involved in 22 pre-university STEM Centers in Ethiopia.

Today our role is to identify, fund, research, and extend the concept of hands-on STEM learning programs. We then help in various capacities the permanent academic stakeholders (typically universities and government education sites) sustainably operate their STEM Centers.

A recent example of our work: 

Gondar University STEM Center – EEWB Conference

In December 2018, STEMpower sponsored a science conference organized by the Ethiopian Educators Without Borders at the University of Gondar. 

Gondar, a city in the mountainous Ethiopian north, is the site of castles and iconic churches.

Gondar is also the site of Gondar STEM Center, the STEMpower founders’ third in what has become a national network of hands-on lab-based pre-university STEM learning centers.

A decade ago, STEMpower‘s founders visited the historically-Jewish area, as well as Gondar University. The University had plans to construct engineering labs on their large campus. STEMpower‘s founders realized that incoming classes of lab-experienced freshman students would contribute to the University’s education effectiveness. Gondar’s municipal authorities stepped in and helped us construct a compound of three lab-friendly buildings to serve as the future Gondar STEM Center. We then furnished lab equipment, lab furniture, and multiple years of support assistance to begin operations. Since then, their Center continues to be strong, and has become a proud asset of the University.

In December 2018, the Gondar chapter of Ethiopian Educator's Without Borders hosted their annual conference at the center. The gathering at the STEM Center vividly demonstrated student innovations, engineering & robotics education, and academic presentations. Many pre-University students in Gondar University’s catchment area attended and were inspired to join the STEM movement.

Our next STEM Center, the 23rd in Ethiopia, will be located in Burayu, west of Addis Ababa. Burayu Talented Youth Academy is a massive project by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology.

We are honored that our STEM education movement has been fully adopted nationally by Ethiopian stakeholders: The national government ministries, the regional state governments, the municipal education bureaus, the public universities, the students and their families, and beyond.

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Stem Power

African Union: Innovating Education Expo, in Dakar Senegal

STEMpower was invited to the African Union's "Innovating Education in Africa Expo" event in Dakar, Senegal. Our Executive Director Kidist Gebreamlak, our Ethiopian executive team, and two of our STEM students made the long flight there. Our practical demonstration of implementing hands-on STEM enrichment across Ethiopia brought an exciting new dimension to the Expo.

 The African Union ("AU") strives for quality transformative education across the African continent. With that in mind, the AU holds an annual "Innovating Education Expo" showcasing technical and social innovations in many areas of education and training. This year, the event was held on October 4-6 in Dakar, Senegal.  STEMpower was honored to be part of this year's event.

STEMpower Exec Director Kidist Gebreamlak with Senegal Education Minister of Higher Education H.E. Teuw Niane

Eyoel Hailu and Kidist with AU Commissioner for Science&Technology H.E. Sarah Anyang Agbor

Kidist and Eyoel aside Botswana Minister of Education H.E. Bagalatia Arone

Both of these students are in 12th grade, attending municipal high schools in Bishoftu. Ethiopia.

Yohannes's project reflects his conviction that there should be no cheating when citizens are voting. He designed a device (the wooden box to the right of the TV) that tallies citizen voting in an election. It also shows the current vote tallies on a liquid crystal display.

Bante's project involves home security. His door-locking device is a fully-functioning electronic combination lock that is mounted onto a model of a typical house door.

STEMpower students learn how to create practical products using various technologies that are taught at our STEM Centers. For example, both of their projects utilize the internationally-available, low-cost Arduino microcontroller, which is basically a tiny programmable computer that can sense and operate mechanical and environmental devices. Electronic circuitry is another topic learned. To learn more about their projects and more student creativity, please click on the "Stem-TV" tab at the top of this page. You can watch them explain their projects during Episode 7.

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