Blaze YSK National Exhibition overall winners Iyad Anwar Tahlar and her project www.businesstoday.co.ke
Blaze YSK National Exhibition overall winners Iyad Anwar Tahlar and her project partner Tanvi Vijay Hirani are presented with their awards by Deputy President Dr William Ruto. [ Photo / Business Today ]

Iyad Taher and Tanvi Hirani – students of SCLP Samaj School – have been crowned Young Scientists of the Year for showcasing the best innovation at the 2019 Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science & Technology Exhibition.

Their winning innovation, a universal healthcare system, seeks to enable the government and relevant agencies to solve health-related challenges affecting the country. It is established in line with the government’s big four agenda on healthcare.

The two were among 500 students from the 47 counties who submitted 235 groundbreaking projects and showcased them at the five-day Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) exhibition powered by BLAZE, which ended on July 7th evening at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

First runners up were Sophia Ndunge and Brenda Nkara from Daraja Secondary School with their innovative homemade lift pump, which seeks to ease access to borehole water. The pump can be made at home with readily available material.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Young Scientist Kenya exhibition, Deputy President Dr. William Ruto said for the country to realise Vision 2030, there is need to increase intake of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical courses.

“We have a disproportionate focus on the arts and social sciences which do not speak to the core of our development agenda. We must develop bigger interests in STEM courses, which provide critical skills sets, to change our development trajectory,” said Dr Ruto.

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Showcased ideas at the exhibition cut through Biology and Ecological sciences, Chemical, Physical and Mathematics Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Technology categories.

“As a company whose growth is driven by innovation, we are excited by the reception of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and we believe that with the right support, Kenya’s position as Africa’s innovation hub is guaranteed,” said Ms Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom.

While opening the exhibition, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministries of Education and Industry, Trade, and Cooperatives to develop a framework to secure the intellectual property rights of the students’ ideas.

“I also direct Kenya intellectual rights office to patent viable innovations generated during the past, present and future YSK exhibition free of charge,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In its second year running, Young Scientist Kenya has since scaled its programme from 10 counties in 2018 to all 47 counties in 2019, reaching a total of over 45,000 students across the country. This was aimed at inspiring students to take STEM and pursue the STEM pathways through outreach, linkages, and extension programmes, and showcase their innovations for further research and commercialization.

The overall winners took home Ksh100,000, a scholarship to Strathmore University, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a trip to Ireland to participate in the 2020 BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition.

On the other hand, the first runners-up walked away with Ksh80,000, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a fully paid trip to France.

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