The indigenous engineers who developed Ghana’s first satellite (GhanaSat-1) have started projects to promote practically oriented Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Innovations (STEMI) in high schools throughout the 275 constituencies in Ghana.
The launch of GhanaSat-1 has been considered as one of Ghana’s greatest demonstration of capacity in STEMI. The purpose of the first Satellite (GhanaSat-1) project was for Ghana to join the league of nations who are exploring satellite communication technology for national development and economic growth.
Considering the use of satellites like meteorology, mobile communication, navigation, earth observation (mapping and town planning), disaster monitoring etc, countries like the USA, JAPAN, CHINA, RUSSIA who develop their own satellites have accumulated the expertise and have had the better chance of exploring this technology more than countries who are dependent on them for satellite data. To deliver Ghana from this unfortunate position of dependence, and to jump over the hurdle, the All Nations University – Space Systems Technology Laboratory (ANU-SSTL) took the first step to design and launch Ghana’s first satellite dubbed GhanaSat-1 on the 3rd of June 2017 from the NASA Kennedy Space Center, California. The satellite was developed by indigenous engineers trained by the university.
Mr. Ernest Teye Matey, a member of the development team and the outreach manager of the ANU-SSTL said it becomes even more important to mount on this achievement and to take advantage of the expertise gained from developing the first satellite, to improve overall STEMI education in Ghana.
He said though there are many fields of STEMI being practised in the country, space science and satellite technology produced one of the greatest achievements for the nation’s pride by joining the league of nations owning satellites in space. Space Science and Satellite technology, therefore, appears to be Ghana’s STEMI goldfields and we need to dig deeper for more.
The achievement of the first satellite launch by All Nation’s University shouldn’t be undermined but built upon for both industrial and academic development. Since its establishment in 2012, the ANU-SSTL have recorded other remarkable achievements such as; first university college in Sub-Saharan Africa to design, build and successfully launch an educational satellite (CanSat) in 2013, the first university in Sub-Saharan Africa to design and build a ground station that communicates with satellites passing along the West Coast of Africa in 2014, the first university in Sub-Saharan Africa to successfully communicate with the International Space Station in 2014, the first to organize inter-high school space science quiz competition for senior high schools in 2014.
To use the achievements to improve STEMI education in Ghana, the All Nations University College have since 2012 had several Space Science and Satellite Technology outreach programs with the aim of educating and sensitizing society on this field.
The outreach program activities include establishing space clubs in high schools, space lab tours, world space week celebration, amateur ground station training, space quiz competition, CANSAT training and exhibitions.
For example, in October 2017, the ANU-SSTL organized the biggest world space week 2017 celebration event in Ghana with the theme; Empowering Young Women in Engineering and Technology which hosted more than 500 students from 16 schools.
In August 2018, the Eastern Region Education Office in collaboration with the ANU-SSTL introduced 470 high school students from 20 different districts in Ghana to the fundamentals of space science and satellite technology and the space lab tour at the university’s premises.
Through the outreach program, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the management of World Space Week Celebration has lauded the university for contributing to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education ) and 5 (Gender Inequality).
To expand the reach of these activities, the outreach office is initiating the STEMI-275 project with the major aim of introducing practical oriented STEMI projects in high schools throughout the 275 constituencies in Ghana using space science and satellite technology
STEMI education at the high school level in Ghana has to become more practical than the present which is 80% theoretical. The project will have both male and female students in the high school, engage in hands-on projects so as to discover and develop practical STEMI talents in them.
It is evident that students in the technical high schools though may not record exceptional performances in their theory, are more inclined to practical work.
The STEMI-275 will provide such students with the platform to utilize their skills in STEMI which could be used for industrial development. Prior to the soon-starting STEMI-275 project, the ANU-SSTL has successfully hosted more than 3,000 students to their activities under the singular sponsorship of the university.
The laboratory will initiate a partnership with some governmental ministries for the STEMI-275 project and is currently seeking sponsorships for the project so that students throughout all the 275 constituencies can be reached.