Islamabad : Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) were the stars of today’s first academic Olympiad in which over 150 grade 4 to 7 students from 29 underserved public schools across the federal capital participated in a series of interactive activities that tested their knowledge of STEM.
‘Teach For Pakistan’, in partnership with the Federal Directorate of Education and the US Department of State’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund organised the day-long STEM Olympiad aimed at promoting interest in STEM among youth, especially young girls.
“The math problems these kids were solving in fractions of seconds, I would be hard-pressed to figure out even without a time limit,” said Khadija Shahper Bakhtiar, CEO of ‘Teach For Pakistan’.
“Our school always had a science lab, but our ‘Teach For Pakistan Fellows’ have not only increased our interest in STEM, they have also shown us how to work on science projects using the materials we have,” said Sadia, a 7th grader from IMCG, Tarnol and a participant at the STEM Olympiad.
After a full day of activities, grade 4 to 5 students from IMCG, Margalla won the title of Junior STEM Olympians, and grade 6 to 7 students from IMCG, Tarnol were named Senior STEM Olympians.
Tooba Akhter, Director Operations at ‘Teach For Pakistan’, stated, “As part of this project, we also had a wonderful opportunity to equip all our students with some basic but necessary learning resources such as dictionaries, geometry boxes, and science kits that help them prepare for the competition and aid in their learning. “About 4,000 such kits have been distributed amongst students in our partner public schools in the Tarnol, Sihala, Bhara Kahu, and Nilore areas around Islamabad,” Akhter added.
Addressing the closing ceremony at Jinnah Convention Centre, Mohyuddin Wani, additional secretary, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, reiterated the government’s commitment to expanding STEM programs and the importance of including young women in both curricular and extracurricular activities. “Students need to use STEM as a tool of critical thinking to move Pakistan Forward”, he said.
Events such as the Olympiad boost the confidence of young women and allows them to break gender stereotypes attached to STEM competence. Among the 150 contestants of the STEM Olympiad, 115 were girls.