WACCBIP Outreach Programme to Senior High Schools
The first cohort of Graduate Interns at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) has successfully organized a Senior High School outreach programme. This is in furtherance of our goal of promoting science education, awareness and appreciation among students in sub-Saharan Africa.
The first outreach event took place at Ada Senior High School in the Ada East District on February 17, 2017 and the second event was at Ningo Senior High School in the Dangme East District on February 22, 2017, all in the Greater Accra Region. The Graduate Internship at WACCBIP was established under the Wellcome Trust Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa initiative.
The main purpose of the outreach was to increase general awareness about the activities, programmes and facilities at WACCBIP to both students and faculty of Ada and Ningo Senior High Schools. Additionally, to motivate and inspire students especially females to enjoy, understand and pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics by connecting them with outstanding role models and mentors from WACCBIP.
On arrival, at the various schools, the Heads of the Science Departments for both schools warmly welcomed and introduced the WACCBIP team to staff and faculty members and the delegation also interacted and shared the purpose of the visit.
The programme attracted over five hundred and thirty (530) students from Ada Senior High School, and two hundred and fifty seven (257) students from Ningo Senior School. The students were drawn from various classes including the General Science, Agriculture, and Home Economics classes. Some students from the General Arts class who were curious and interested in the programme also attended.
Welcoming and introducing the WACCBIP team to the students, Mrs. Belinda Boateng, a science teacher at Ada Senior High school, appreciated WACCBIP for choosing Ada Senior High School to host such an educative outreach. She also encouraged the students to fully engage in the activities of the team with enthusiasm and hoped that WACCBIP will continually host more outreaches in the school.
Mr. Seth Sevor, the school counselor for Ningo Senior High also commended WACCBIP for making such a historic visit to the school, and encouraged the students to take the opportunities that WACCBIP presents.
The programme then began with presentations, as Graduate Interns took turns to educate the audience. Mr. Emmanuel Adade began with an intriguing presentation on Science in perspective and gave students deep understanding on relevance of science education and opportunities available. He also highlighted the immerse contribution of scientist like Ibn Al-haytham, Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton and Linus Pauling to the students. He again emphasized on the need for the students to be problem solvers in their society.
Miss Kyerewaa Akuamoah Boateng, delivering the second presentation, also gave an insightful presentation on the activities of WACCBIP and reiterated the Centre’s mission, objectives and achievements. She also highlighted the opportunities that WACCBIP offers to young scientists in presenting and discussing novel research ideas on active and emerging topics on studying cell biology and its application. She explained that in line with WACCBIP’s vision of broadening science literacy, the center has been focusing on such outreach projects to inspire and produce high caliber scientists from sub-Saharan Africa.
In the third presentation, Mr. Darius Quansah and Mr Kwadwo Oworae spoke on research facilities at WACCBIP. They explained that the state-of-the art equipment available at WACCBIP support infectious diseases research in the sub-region. These equipment included the Flow Cytometer, Biosafety Cabinets, Quant Studio 5 Real Time PCR System, Magpix Luminex system, Amersham Gel Documentation System, Nano Drop Spectrophotometer and the Eppendorf Electroporator. They further showcased the various laboratories at WACCBIP, which includes the Virology laboratory, Protein Expression and Forensic laboratory, Cell Biology and Immunology laboratory, Molecular Biology, Natural Products laboratory and Chemical Systems laboratory to students and staff.
Miss Rita Owusu Adjei and Miss Latifatu Mohammed gave students the fundamental steps to follow in applying to the University. They took students through admission requirements, procedures, cut-off grades and the various courses available to science students. They further encouraged students to assess their strengths and weaknesses before choosing their courses and career paths in the field of science.
Giving the final presentation, Mr. Richmond Ayee and Miss Magdalene Dogbe, enlightened the students on malaria, its global challenges, symptoms and diagnosis and prevention. A further explanation was given on the principles of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) and microscopy to the understanding of students to prepare them for the hands-on practical sessions.
Mr. Deladem Mensah, a final year student of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, and an old student of Ada Senior School also shared some memorable events with the students. He encouraged them to keep studying and work hard to achieve their purpose.
Opportunities were given to both students and teachers to ask questions on each session and the moderator was Miss Grace Opoku.
Crowning the programme, students were divided into seven (7) groups, under the supervision of Miss Evelyn Quansah and other Graduate Interns, were given hands–on practical sessions on microscopy. This gave them the opportunity to analyze and discuss the diagnosis of malaria infection by detecting specific malaria antigens in a person’s blood. Students appreciated this information and for the first time visualized most of the microorganisms they had heard of.
Mrs. Valencia Quame, the Headmistress of Ada Senior School, couldn’t hide her joy to the team at the end of the programme. She thanked the WACCBIP team for the tremendous knowledge and expertise imparted to keep students interested in science, and hoped that further collaboration between Ada Senior High School and WACCBIP will be established.
At Ningo Senior High school, Mr. Edmund Botchwey, the headmaster of the school was overwhelmed by the number of students who participated and the dedication of the WACCBIP team. He also invited WACCBIP to their 40th anniversary.
The team is expected to generate wider interest in the next school.