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Afolabi, Menashi, Olubusuyi, Osagumwenro: The new kids in app tech

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Afolabi, Menashi, Olubusuyi, Osagumwenro of Whitesands School, Lekki

Recently, four students from Whitesands School, Lekki, did Nigeria, nay, Africa proud, as they represented the country and continent at an international competition in the U.S. and won.

The four JSS2 students were the only representatives from Africa at the science competition in Florida. And they excelled in their mission, as they emerged winner of a category in the competition, held at the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge in Florida.

The four pupils, William Afolabi, Mordi Menashi, Famobiwo Olubusuyi and Ugbo Osagumwenro won the Smoke-Free World category of the competition at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, Florida, US.

The competition required the pupils to develop a marketable and innovative idea that could help in reducing smoking and at the same time, provide an economic solution to challenges facing tobacco farmers in developing countries.

Thus, the pupils, with the supervision of their coach, developed an App they called Virtual Farm, which they presented at the final of the science competition.

Consequently, the four students have reportedly received Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex Good Citizen award, among other prizes.

The Conrad Challenge is an international innovation competition comprising five categories: Aerospace Aviation, Cyber Technology and Security, Energy and Environment, Health and Nutrition, and Smoke-Free World.

Participants are expected to develop a marketable and innovative idea that can solve a real-world problem by using Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and STEM principles.

The pupils and their coach spoke about the App and how it can help build a relationship between tobacco farmers and companies and at the same time encourage a positive and beneficial use of tobacco.

Since their task was to design a product that could solve the problem of smoke in the world, in line with the Smoke-Free World campaign, the pupils were expected to come up with an initiative that would simultaneously solve economic challenges for tobacco farmers and the health hazards of cigarettes.

Speaking about the App they designed for this purpose before embarking on the trip to the U.S., the pupils’ coach, Omotoso said: “These boys have come up with a fantastic product. The product, called Virtual Farm, will be presented at the finale of the competition in Florida.”

One of the students, Modi Menashi, said: “Virtual Farm is an App we designed to help tobacco farmers increase their income by linking them to the organisations that plan to use tobacco for positive things.”

Apart from linking farmers directly to companies, Ugbo Osagumwenro, another member of the team, said: “The App can also teach farmers about the negative effects of tobacco, as well as inform them about other products tobacco can be used for apart from cigarettes.”

What of farmers that don’t have smartphones?

The schoolboys have taken care of this. Here is how their Virtual Farm Application can address it:

“What is unique about this App is that it can work on every mobile platform. So, for farmers that are not using smartphones, we can reach out to them through DSSD code. Most banks are using this code for services like sending money. But in our case, we will use the codes to ensure every farmer is able to use this App,” they explained.

While designing a product to solve a real-world problem is a commendable effort from four Junior Secondary School students, it is noteworthy that other schools can learn from Whitesands Schools, by preparing their pupils to participate in internationally recognised competitions, such as Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge.


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