In Nigeria Schoolgirls build robots to tackle waste

In these photos, schoolgirls in Abuja engage with science supported by the Odyssey Educational Foundation.

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The Odyssey Educational Foundation is a Nigerian NGO that works with children in 15 state schools in Abuja to offer a rich learning experience in robotics, computer programming and the four STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths.

The foundation aims to encourage more children, especially girls, to think about pursuing science and technology careers.

play To turn waste into useful recycled substances, the girls set up a condenser that will turn gases into liquids that can be used for energy production (Jon Spaull)


The organisation was set up by Esther Uzochukwu-Denis in 2013, after she travelled to India to complete an MSc. Set on pursuing a career in the telecommunications industry, she changed her mind when she discovered that school clubs in India taught children programming and provided extra STEM tuition. Inspired by the experience, she returned home determined to offer the same service to Nigerian children.

These photos were taken at the Government Girls Secondary School Dutse and the Junior Secondary School Area 11.

On 30 January, Nigeria hosted the First Lego League challenge, facilitated by the foundation. In this international competition, students program Lego mini robots to achieve a specific task. This year more than 233,000 competitors from 81 countries took up the challenge titled Trash Trek. It involved programming the robots to pick up and drop off pieces of garbage on a playing area, as well as demonstrating research projects related to the topic of waste.

The two schools presented projects involving recycling, waste disposal and solar energy for domestic use.

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