Two students from Kenya used locally sourced materials regarded as waste (molasses, maize cobs) with a combination of Tithonia plant to produced a nutritious animal feed rich in energy, calcium and potassium that enhances milk production in both cows and goats.
Mwirigi Godfrey, 16 and Daniel Mogucu, 18 said that they noticed an increase in milk production in goats after feeding them on the product. This act was a motivation for the duo to study the plant as an animal feeds.
In last years’ science congress, their project dubbed Tithonia as animal feeds was voted among the top best nationally.
This earned them a place to showcase their innovation during the first national science, technology and innovation week held at the Kenyatta International Conference Center in Nairobi, Kenya.
The lads are form three and four students respectively from Moteiribe Secondary school in Kenyenye district in Kisii County, Kenya.
Using locally available materials usually seen as waste including molasses, maize cobs with a combination of Tithonia plant, the students came up with a nutritious animal feed rich in energy, calcium and potassium which enhances milk production in both cows and goats.
Asked about their perception towards science subjects, the two confessed their love for the sciences and admit the same is not true with other students.
“Most students have negative attitude towards science subjects. They say science subjects are hard,” notes Godfrey, adding that lack of enough science teachers and equipment are other factors making students disinterested in science subjects.
However, this is set to change if plans to establish science center in Nairobi, Kenya, to create excitement and enthusiasm among students are successfully implemented.
The center is also to help in popularization of science by enhancing public understanding and involvement in sciences.
Most experts interviewed for this article agree that Kenya and Africa at large lag behind other continents in funding and utilization of science because in Africa, science has not been linked to daily life and it not demystified to the extend that students are not interested in science right from primary level.
“Our education system right from the basics has not taken advantage from the fact that the new trend in generating knowledge is to use it for sustainable development and for economic growth,” says Dr. Oti-Boateng, science and technology specialist at United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“The basic of teaching science courses and mathematics is not properly taught to link it to the environment, water, food security and our needs such that science is looked at as a mysterious thing, says Dr. Oti-Boateng, emphasizing that, science should be taught in terms of what we eat, drink, the environment for people to understand and appreciate it.
The center will illustrate that “whatever we use, we need to know how it works,” says Dr. Kenneth Monjero, a scientist at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).
Dr. Monjero explains that there are important technologies available that people use without knowing how they function.
And with the establishment of this center, Dr. Monjero is up beat that the science center will go a long way in helping educate the mass on the importance of sciences.
For instance, Dr. Monjero observes that there is no rocket science in using polythene bags to boil water. “These are technology that people can use when stranded and the simple science behind this is that water will absorbs the heat which is used to boil the water without burning the polythene,” he explains
He points out that science can help people to do with very simple and available materials.
“We want to use science centers to inspire learners to take up careers in sciences. This is because many people including students who are shying away from sciences to start appreciating sciences,” he told AfricaSTI.com during the first national science, technology and innovation week held in May.
There are 2400 science centers and science museums world wide with 23 in Africa mainly in Egypt, Tunisia and Mauritius with South Africa hosting 17 such centers.
“A culture of science for developing nation’s scientific thinking needs to be developed across all the people groups so that societies can be part of informed decision making process,” says Dr. Monjero, adding that there is an urgent need to establish one science centre in Kenya.
According to Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak, the chief executive officer and secretary of National Council of Science and Technology (NCST), the impact of the science center will be to demystify and simplify science.
“The centers will make our children develop interest in science and encourage them to take science subject. Also for the society at large they will appreciate science around them and understand how things are working around science,” says Prof. Abdulrazak.
“In long term will have more youth taking up science subjects, being innovative and take up technology for national development,” adds Prof. Abdulrazak.
Science centre is a museum devoted primarily to science to emphasize a hands-on approach, featuring interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to experiment and explore.
The first science center will be established in collaboration between NCST, KARI and National museum.