This past Saturday, PEN collaborated with the educational NGO Obsession Inc and the Creativity Group of the Ghanaian university KNUST to stage the Scientists for the Future Fair! Hopefully this will be the first of many annual fairs to celebrate the ingenuity of young Ghanaians.
Sponsored by the US Embassy in Accra, our Fair brought together young scientists and engineers from six Kumasi secondary schools to compete for the most brilliant solution to a local problem. Each group was mentored by an engineering student from KNUST for three weeks, and every one of their entries exceeded our expectations by light-years.
Third place went to the brilliant young women of Yaa Asantewaa SHS, who designed a joint emergency light and automatic lighting system, all in a compact and user-friendly package. With their invention, class prefects need no longer go from dorm to dorm arguing with unruly student to switch off all the lights– instead, a simple alarm clock can declare lights-out as soon as it’s bedtime! And everyone always needs emergency power in Kumasi, where load-shedding is frequent and unpredictable.
Second place went to KNUST’s own Senior High School, where four young men presented a host of elegant inventions: automatic night-triggered street lamps, an optical smoke-sensor, and charcoal made from sawdust and starch.
The first prize winners at Osei Kyeretwie Senior High School may give our Tanzanian friends at Global Cycle Solutions some competition– they invented their own bicycle-powered cell phone charger! Rumor has it that their prototype has charged a few mobiles already, so I hope we can see it out on the market someday soon.
Another totally awesome entry was an automatic desk lamp made from PVC and a weighted cosmetics container, which lights up when you put your books down over the light sensor– by only switching on when a student was at her desk, this invention could cut down on a school’s electricity use by 78%! We also heard some high-quality music from an amplifier made from scavenged electronics, and everyone was impressed by Kumasi Anglican Secondary School’s AC-to-DC converter.
Thank you to our fabulous mentors and science teachers, and to our sponsors at the US Embassy (who made it all possible) and Kingdom Books (who provided our winners with scientific calculators)!