Last month, all of WISER’s senior class of girls traveled to Nairobi. Many of these girls were visiting the big city for the first time, but they weren’t just there to sight-see. Our senior class made the trek to Nairobi to participate in a week-long coding and design bootcamp with AkiraChix, an NGO aiming to develop a successful force of women in technology who will change Africa’s future.
For years, Nairobi has been a hub of innovation and technology in Africa. But girls in rural communities like Muhuru Bay rarely have access to the unique opportunities and ideas these hubs spark. That changed as WISER girls participated in the Akirachix bootcamp and were able to learn from Kenyan women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and visit STEM hubs around the city.
Through the AkiraChix bootcamp, WISER girls learned about computer programming, graphic design, and robotics, then presented their own innovative ideas at the end of the week. The bootcamp emphasized hands-on problem-solving for local challenges, asking students to design creative technological solutions for problems in rural communities. Girls designed a vented space heater for small homes, a pothole repair device, a chimney-based stove to reduce respiratory disease, and a saltwater battery lamp.
The WISER girls were thrilled with their experience, and the AkiraChix team left feeling inspired as well. Linda Kamau, Founder of AkiraChix, noted that, “The AkiraChix team had a great time seeing (the WISER girls) excited about technology and the opportunities available.”
After a week of creative problem-solving, WISER girls attended the Geek Girl Festival (#GGFest18), which brought together hundreds of girls from high schools across Kenya to introduce them to career opportunities in tech, expose them to women working in the tech industry, and provide leadership and mentorship.
Why is this so special? The majority of girls in Muhuru Bay are forced to drop out of school, get married, and have children before they turn 18. There are no role models of women in STEM outside of WISER’s campus or pathways to STEM careers.
WISER girls are not just staying in school — they’re becoming leaders and changemakers in their own right. They’re becoming design thinkers and creative problem-solvers. Being able to connect with dozens of Kenyan women programmers, app developers, and computer engineers was a unique and inspiring opportunity for our senior students as they consider their education and career steps after WISER.
Special Thanks to the Pentair Foundation, who made this opportunity possible with a generous grant to support the expansion of STEM opportunities at WISER. Stay tuned to learn more about how Pentair is helping WISER grow into a hub for technology and innovation, empowering girls in new and exciting ways.