STEM Synergy Opened 8 STEM Learning Centers in Ethiopia
By Tsegaye Legesse. August 2019
STEM Synergy is a non-profit organization that operates in Ethiopia since 2016. In the summer of 2019, It has opened and handed over eight mini STEM centers in different parts of the country. The new mini-STEM centers consist of two important STEM labs (the electronics and virtual computer labs). These labs are located in the university campuses but intended to benefit middle and secondary school students within the 10-mile radius of the university campuses. The labs are strategically located in the university campuses due to the availability of the basic infrastructures and qualified manpower among the Universities.
STEM Synergy spent about 1 million US dollars to purchase equipment, and furniture. STEM Synergy will continue to support two years’ salary expenses of the two lab technicians to be hired by each center. Full takeover of financing the centers will be assumed by the universities when STEM Synergy project agreement expires after two years from now.
These newly opened mini -STEM centers are located in the campuses of the following universities ( Dilla, Debremarkos, Woldia, Haramaya, Kebridahar, Ethiopian Academy of Science, Gode Polytechnic College, and Harare Municipality). STEM Synergy handed over the centers to the university officials. Close to 600,000 primary and secondary school students are estimated to benefit out of these centers. STEM Synergy president, Tsegaye Legesse and Ato Getachew Gezahign, the Country Director were present during the hand over onsite from STEM Synergy.
Each mini-STEM Center houses two basic labs : Electronics and Virtual Computers: The ‘Virtual Computer Labs” are perhaps the most visible and geographically-wide program that is offered by STEM Synergy. Our solution is not a laptop computer for every student, nor is our solution a computer for every seat in a classroom! Such expensive unrealistic fads come and go. In our experience, we’ve sadly observed high failure rates with laptops, such that after about four years nearly all of the laptops are inoperable. We’ve equally sadly observed desktop computers permanently disabled by viruses, hardware failures, obsolete operating systems, inconsistent software, and failing power conditioners and batteries. That is the reality. The STEM Synergy solution is the “Virtual Computer Lab”. Within this innovative form of computer-learning, a single computer easily runs a classroom array of 20 to 30 student workstations. Each workstation is the usual configuration of a display monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse, but missing is the workstation’s computer! Instead of connecting to a computer, the student’s monitor/keyboard/mouse is connected to a “thin client” device. (In the photos, you can see the “thin client” device that’s affixed to the back of each student display monitor.) Every “thin client” is connected (by wireless or cable) to the teacher’s computer, a high-capacity computer that has been configured to run multiple virtual copies of a personal computer.