Story By: Abdul Jalil Mahamud
Three University for Development Studies students (UDS) have been awarded a cash grant for their final year research work by HERPol Africa. The presentation was made on Saturday, 28 January 2023 at Redclay Studios in Tamale at the maiden edition of HERPol Africa annual STEM Festival.
HERPol Africa Annual STEM Festival is part of the organization’s effort to promote science and technology in the Northern Region. The festival basically was made of two sections, the awarding of scholarships to university students and the presentation of projects by some secondary school students.
In all, 80 students applied for the grant and 30 students were shortlisted for the interview but 3 were chosen for the grant. The scholarship termed “the kaaka Dissertation/ Research grant” is in honour of the founder’s grandmother who sacrificed everything to ensure her 3 grandchildren had the best education.
The second part of the initiative saw senior high schools including Vittin Senior High, Tamale Girls, and Dabogba Technical Institute presenting their innovations for the audience and judges as part of their projects, the schools used resources within their communities to develop their innovations.
Vittin Senior High school came out with “plastic bricks” made mainly of sachet water waste and 2 cups of sea sand. Research shows that it takes 100 years for plastic to fully decompose. To this effect, the students took it upon themselves to effectively recycle the plastics in their community. Each brick is manufactured with 2,500 sachets and takes 3x of the heat used in moulding it to melt it. It is also resistant to bend and deformation. Therefore if 2500 sachets are needed to produce one brick, how much more will be needed in building a house and how much more plastic waste will be put to good use if such an initiative thrives?
The Tamale Girls’ Senior high school ladies presented a “solar box” for cooking. The box uses the heat from the sun to prepare light foods such as tea, noodles and rice. It is designed in a way to trap the sun’s energy from all angles to enable the food to be properly cooked.
Students from Dabogba Technical Institute had a lot to show from different departments. The auto department presented a locally produced tricycle (yelo yelo) named D. Tech, manufactured from materials that ordinary mechanics can work on without needing any special training, unlike their imported counterparts. Conversely to the imported ones, D.Tech has its engine placed in front to prevent overheating and unnecessary breakdowns.
“If all materials are available, we can use a month to produce 3 tricycles,” said Mr Martin, a teacher in charge of the auto department.
The electrical engineering students manufactured a parabolic cooker that equally uses radiations from the sun in cooking food and a well-sourced solar panel, with a doorbell and a chat controller serving as the brain of the whole set-up. The system is wired in a way to convert DC from the sun to AC and conserve energy at the same time.
Also, the fashion and metal departments were present to showcase their innovation. The fashion department also recycles plastic waste into jewellery and accessories while the metal department also worked on metal tables and chairs.
In his closing remarks, Dr Osman, the chief executive director of HERPol Africa said “I believe in the adage, humanity over vanity, serve humanity and the money follows. This is a seed we have sown and every farmer hopes to sow on fertile lands and we are sure we have sown on fertile land, let it grow and you will reap multiple folds of what’s been sown”.