HP helps bring chemistry experiments to students in rural areas of Kenya through online science environments.

COMPUTATIONAL CHEMISTRY IN EAST AFRICA

Students growing up in rural Kenya can’t do much to fight environmental toxins or the threat of malaria, right? Wrong, says the team at Kenya’s Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.

With funding from the HP Catalyst Initiative as part of the Global Collaboratory Consortium and working together with Kenya’s Strathmore University, Masinde Muliro University is preparing the country’s next generation of scientists to help address these major social challenges.

The chemistry simulations allow students to see what it’s like to measure and mix chemicals, observe real-time reactions, and record their observations.

The University is working with several under-resourced, rural schools in Kenya, which do not have science labs or even electricity. However, the team is working to ensure students at those schools are still able to complete a chemistry syllabus by providing them with online science environments.

Here’s how it works: Open-source chemistry simulations are downloaded onto donated HP mobile technology, and then staff from Masinde Muliro University drives these simulations to schools where they are used on donated battery-powered HP mobile workstations running virtual-experiment software.

Students can perform virtual experiments as if they were in a fully-equipped science lab – measuring and pouring chemicals, observing real-time chemical reactions, and recording results.

During the pilot phase, students reported that the virtual tools provided a relaxed learning environment. Based on that success, the University aims to extend this program to more secondary-level students, and additional science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and related subjects (STEM+) undergraduates and graduates.

This program can benefit students in many other developing and disadvantaged economies. The technology can empower the marginalized, help balance inadequate teacher-to-student ratios, give schools access to low-cost science experiments, and create exciting new learning and research opportunities.

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