Project 1808 to host second Science and leadership festival


December 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Project 1808, a non-profit making organization founded by a Sierra Leonean scientist based in the United States of America, would be hosting its second Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Leadership Festival in January, 2017 in Kabala town, Koinadugu district.

It could be recalled that the STEM and Leadership Festival was first hosted in January, 2016 and brought together over 200 students including teachers, parents, and community stakeholders, among others. During that four-day intense but enjoyable training, students were taught some basics in science including the of use a microscope, thermometer, how to remove stains from white cloth, and what to do to preserve the forest and how to utilize inland valley swamps as an alternative to deforestation.

The students were also taught about the qualities of a good leader, and what they should do as students and what they should not do.

Dr. Alhaji N’jai, Founder and Chief Strategist of Project 1808, told Concord Times that the three-day event would feature activities and curriculum written by students from the Project 1808 Students’ Organization at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with various volunteers. He added that the activities would be implemented by students and volunteers from Kabala, various partners in Sierra Leone and abroad.

“For this year’s festival, a number of volunteers from US and around the world will accompany Project 1808 (  me and Program Director, Dr. Linda Vakunta)   to the Northern region of Sierra Leone, where they would implement small pointed and targeted activities that build science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and leadership capacity among students, youths, and adults in the community.  The Sierra Leonean students will then work with small groups of younger students on the day of the event, helping them to explore the worlds of biology, ecology, physics, chemistry, leadership, and more. This is the second time Project 1808 would organize this event and they look forward to building upon the success of last year,” he said.

He recalled that in 2016, over 200 students and community members attended the festival, where they observed, experimented, and explored the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, leadership, among others through hands-on experiments and demonstrations.

 He added that Last year’s microscopy station was the most popular station featuring a compound microscope and paper microscopes “Foldscopes” donated by Prof. Manu Prakash Lab at Stanford University.

Dr. N’jai said Project 1808 has long been involved in youth capacity building and community development in Sierra Leone through a school-community-University partnership model.

“This organization currently supports the education and wellbeing of over 400 students in the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone through scholarships, after-school classes, computer literacy programs, and leadership opportunities. Project 1808, Inc firmly believes that Science and Leadership are critical for solving basic challenges in society. For young people, Science can enhance abilities to solve problem, and ability to evaluate evidence, which is linked to academic success,” Dr. N’jai said.

He noted that leadership was significant in all aspect of our lives and that successful leaders were known to display key characteristics of servant leaders; listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community.