Students from the Shree Swaminarayan Academy made the winning presentations at the RCMRD Space Challenge 2019, claiming the coveted crown for both the primary and secondary school categories.
The annual challenge was organised by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) and the USAID-sponsored SERVIR-E & SA project, in collaboration with the Trans-African HydroMeteorological Observatory (TAHMO) and Kenyan Space Agency’s GLOBE STEM programme.
The Challenge leverages on an experimental learning model to enlighten Kenyan students in primary and secondary schools on some of the causes and drivers of climate change. Initiated in 2017, the challenge thrives on the collaborative efforts of its organising partners including RCMRD, GLOBE, TAHMO and 4-H Kenya, as well as primary schools and secondary schools in Kenya.
Photo Credit: RCMRD Nairobi via Flickr
A total of 30 schools (including primary and secondary schools) participated in the 2019 edition of the Challenge, which started off with a teachers’ orientation programme (3-day training workshop and consultations), that took place at RCMRD.
The teachers’ training sessions served as a TTT (train the trainers) process to equip teachers with the necessary skills in land cover changes and linkages with weather variables, forming the basis of the 2019 RCMRD-Kenya Space Challenge.
Similar to previous editions, this year had students participating in hands-on experiments to determine relationships between weather parameters (temperature, precipitation, humidity), Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and malaria occurrence in Homa Bay County. The challenge focuses on food security and health, in line with the Kenyan government’s priority development areas.
The weather data was sourced from the automatic weather stations (same as the one installed at RCMRD close to MODIS receiver), NDVI was derived from MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and malaria data was acquired from Kenya’s Ministry of Health. Just as in 2018, this year’s Challenge was level specific, with primary and secondary schools having different sets of challenges on Friday 5th July 2019 at the Sports View Hotel, Kasarani.
Commenting on the challenge during the opening ceremony, RCMRD Director-General, Dr. Emmanuel Nkurunziza, said: “We are grateful for the support of USAID and NASA in convening this Space Challenge event to encourage our young people to be successful in science. You, students, have every opportunity to be successful, and we are here to encourage you all.”
In the end, everyone emerged as winners; the presentations by Shree Swaminarayan Junior, St. Scholastica Catholic School and Manyati Primary School were ranked first, second and third respectively in the Primary School category. In the Secondary School category, Shree Swaminarayan Academy, Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls and Homabay High School were crowned first, second and third place respectively
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.