KP Sharma

To provide access to Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning to underprivileged youths in rural Bhutan, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College (JNEC) is organising STEM camp in 10 schools in Samdrupjongkhar and one in Pemagatshel.

As per the record with the Dean of Research and Industrial Linkages of JNEC, Sangay Chedup, more than 350 students from eight schools in Samdrupjongkhar and Pemagatshel have attended the camp so far.

The four-day camp will introduce the students to two different educational STEM tools called Arduino Microcontroller Programming and Science Technology Engineering Maths Social Enterprise Learning (STEMSEL) runlinc controller.

Sangay Chedup said that using these two educational platforms, students are introduced to the concept of automation, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, robotics application developments, and basic webpage designs.

He added that participants are provided with hands-on experience in programming and interfacing electronic devices while using the applications in the field.

To help the students continue learning and develop more interest in STEM learning, he said that each school is provided with five arduino robotic kits, four STEMSEL runlinc controller with wifi module and two sets 37-in-1 sensor kits, among others.

The college stated that the grassroots STEM education outreach programme is aimed at bridging the digital divide among the youths. 

“It is also to educate the rural youths on the significance of STEM fields in making difference by leveraging technologies in the society” said Sangay Chedup. 

According to the camp organisers, when students are exposed to hands-on experience to develop applications, it is expected to inspire them to take up STEM subjects in higher education. 

The programme is offered to the students of classes seven to ten. Some teachers who would be the mentors of the school later are also attending the camp.

The organiser said that it was encouraging to witness more participation despite the poor equipment and network connectivity in some schools.

In addition, the participants are also connected with STEM pioneers outside Bhutan for encouragement and motivation.

The STEM camp is supported by UNICEF and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.