Melvina Conton

Female Youth Grant Winner

My name is Melvina Conton, from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I am currently a Mechanical engineering major at Ashesi University in Ghana. I am a 2019 Kectil Colleague and a 2019 Millennium Fellow. I am the founder of GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science) Club, an all-girls STEM club which aims to promote interactive learning in STEM amongst young girls.

The GEMS club seeks to provide an opportunity for young girls to engage in STEM in a fun and supportive environment through hands-on activities that will stimulate their minds. This addresses the problem of the fear girls have of STEM and seeks to promote scientific analysis, evaluation, innovation and critical thinking which is paramount to bringing about the change we’re looking for in Africa.

The GEMS Club project kicked off in July 2018 with a summer camp which lasted four weeks, after which the girls received certificates of completion and awards. There were 20 girls aged 9 – 14 from 5 different schools. During the camp, we conducted four major experiments (Solar Oven, Spaghetti Bridge Challenge, Egg Drop Challenge, and a Volcano Eruption). Apart from these, there were sessions where the girls learned more about Science and Engineering and how to solve simple problems in society.

Currently, another branch of the GEMS Club is being set in the Berekuso community, Ghana. With a team of 10 volunteers (8 of whom are ASA alumni),

We are currently working on developing and testing a creative STEM curriculum for junior secondary schools in West Africa. This curriculum will be designed to complement the current Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) syllabus for Math and Integrated Science. This exam is conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC)

The curriculum will be based on activities which will help the pupils to visualize and therefore better understand what they are being taught in class, also helping them to perform better in examinations.

Sessions are twice a month, throughout the school year. This project is primarily run by a team of 10 volunteers, 8 of whom are African Gifted alumni.

Our mission is to provide a risk-free environment where there is no competition amongst the girls other than doing their personal best. This will make the girls feel that they are valued as a group and as individuals, thus enabling them to excel in STEM.