The MEDO Women in STEM Programme reaches about 500 high school women a year with their Space Prep and Space Trek workshops.
MEDO’s programme was developed in response to our observation that many corporates it works with experience a lack of skilled STEM employees – particularly female employees. “It is predicted that 80% of all future jobs are STEM related, with almost double the pay of non-STEM related careers. So what we are trying to do is to give these young women the best chance out there.
The programme has been divided into three stages, starting with SpacePrep workshops. These workshops are four hour events held every Saturday in MEDO’s mobile lab – the Treppie Truck – which is equipped with room for 16 learners, smart TV, Internet access and an independent power supply for a week’s operation. This was successfully launched on 16 June 2015 and has to date reached 120 young women at their local high schools where they learnt the basics of electro-mechanics by building a mini robot, or Jiggybot, from scratch using components including an LED, resistor, battery, switch, an unbalanced motor and four solid wires as legs soldered together.
SpacePrep runs throughout the year.
The second stage of the programme is SpaceTrek, a week-long intensive boot camp – the first of which was held from 5 to 11 January 2016 at High Africa Conference Centre in Worcester. This camp saw 14 selected young women learning about telecommunications, satellite construction, calibration, and data analysis. Workshops and lectures were led by Jennifer Carter, SpaceTrek USA Director as well as an all-female team from both South Africa and the USA. Each day consisted of a series of group activities, guest presentations and had a dedicated theme designed to further the learners’ knowledge in STEM and to provide them with the necessary experience to develop the payload for Africa’s first privately owned satellite.
The third phase of the programme is the launch of the actual satellite, MEDOsat1, which will happen in the second quarter of 2016 from the Mojave Desert in the USA. The learners will participate in an intensive brainstorming process the kind of payload the satellite will carry. Once launched, all learners who have participated in the various programmes, will be able to participate in a programme where the will be able to communicate with the satellite and experiment with communication and data gathering while it is in orbit.
This Women in Stem programme will run for the next four years with a launch planned from South African soil within that time.
This is a programme that is focused not only on the youth of today, but the economy of tomorrow which is why we need funds to continue this exciting project to impact as many young South Africans as possible. To donate, please follow the GivenGain link below.