I walked up the hill to Mwanza Boma Gunzert House in the city center of Mwanza to find a remarkable scene. I saw enthusiastic children, surrounded by computers, wires, batteries, and various tools. The kids were deep in the process of creating.
Within the historical building from colonial times, an innovative STEM workshop program called MITz KITS boot camp was held from September 4 to 16. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Alongside the children, dedicated trainers guided and supported their every step. The air was filled with excitement and the sound of laughter, as these young minds explored the world of technology and unleashed their creativity.
The workshop was organized by MITzKITS, a Mwanza based start-up, and Thomas Barcatta from Mwanza eV in Wuerzburg, Mwanza’s German sister city. MITz Kits Boot camp is a unique STEM initiative that combines competence based theoretical education with practical application, providing children with the tools to apply their newfound knowledge in everyday life. The workshop usually runs during school holidays and participants are typically primary and secondary school students.
In a departure from the norm, this iteration of the boot camp was fully funded by generous sponsorship from WÜPAKA and Mwanza eV. This enabled a larger group of children to participate, turning the normally fee-based workshop into an inclusive educational haven. And “Dr Delphine Kessy from Gunzert House Foundation enabled this program by allowing the workshop to be conducted at Mwanza Boma Gunzert House for free”, Thomas Barcatta, the representative of Mwanza e.V. added.
The number of participants was limited to eighty. To secure their slot, participants were required to record videos of their projects on instagram, with the eighty videos receiving the most likes earning a spot in the boot camp, Wilson Richard, CEO of MITz Group explained.
Thomas Barcatta expressed his enthusiasm for inspiring young people: “In Tanzania, there are very few engineering students at universities. I am interested in inspiring young people to pursue STEM subjects”.
On the first day of Mitz Kits Boot Camp, the students delved into the world of electronics, learning about the basics, creating lemon batteries, and even making their own torches. The second day was all about electromagnetism and motor skills as they built frog robots. As the camp progressed, they were introduced to computers and programming on the third day. On the fourth day, they explored the fascinating world of sensor lights and microcontroller programming. And on the fifth day, the students took their skills to the next level by building a Bluetooth-controlled electric car.
It was a joy to witness their enthusiasm as the kids engaged in racing games, exclaiming with excitement. “I do , I understand! I have learned how to make frog robots, torches and I am happy to meet new friend from different schools”, an elated student from Mihama primary school shared. Some had even loftier expectations. Peter, a form six student, confessed, “I was hoping for something big, I am glad and have learned a lot”.
MITz Kits is on a mission to foster creativity, innovation, and curiosity in STEM among students. They aim to create an environment that inspires young minds through their portable STEM kits and maker programs. Their vision is to revolutionize education by incorporating modern teaching and learning tools that enhance competency-based learning. It’s exciting to see how MITz Kits is making STEM education more engaging and accessible for students. Wilson Richard, the CEO of MITz Group, expressed his vision for the program, stating that the children “should love STEM, understand it and succeed”.
The MITz Kits boot camp at Mwanza Boma Gunzert House showcased the potential that such STEM initiatives have in shaping the future of Tanzania. The organizers MITz Kits and Thomas Barcatta and also the program funders WÜPAKA and Mwanza eV have left a lasting impression on the young minds that participated.
As we reflect on the success of this event, the call for more support resonates loud and clear. The future lies in the hands of these young innovators, and with continued backing, their potential is limitless. As the saying goes,” To reach a child is to reach a nation”.
By Mariam Gichan