FROM ALOYSIUS ATTAH, Onitsha
Remember the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 and how the Biafran soldiers with their ingenuity made their own local Ogbunigwe bombs, refined their own petrol and practically invented virtually all their war arsenals.
Maybe you are one of those who lament that the Igbo man has lost it all since the war and are only good now at trading in their various markets scattered across the world. But before you make any conclusion yet, there is good news + that the Igbo man will rule the world again in technological innovations.
Tucked within the village setting of Okpuno in Awka capital territory, a catholic secondary school, Tansi International College, Awka has embarked on a silent revolution in molding young Igbo scientists who may likely make the likes of Thomas Edison, Benjamine Franklin, Isaac Newton and the likes turn in their graves and smile that Africa nay Nigeria has got the groove.
It was the maiden science week of the college established by the Catholic Diocese of Awka to mold young boys into morally and academic sound people that will make positive impact in the society.
The three-day event which featured lectures, exhibitions, excursions and the commissioning of the mathematics laboratory and mathematics club of the school was an eye opener on the hidden talents exhibited by the students to the marvel of even their teachers and the priests in charge of the school administration.
A glimpse of what to expect from the students opened in day one of the event when the students decked on suits suddenly appeared on the stage with different musical instruments. With tambourines, flutes, violin, guitars and drum, the young minds gave a perfect rendition of the Nigeria National Anthem, Anambra Anthem and their school Anthem to the thunderous applause of the audience.
But the rendition was an appetizer to the main dish they served on the exhibition day. Different classes and departments in the school came out with various products that kept the audience wondering how they were able to accomplish such feats.
A group came up with a locally made electric stove whose parts and components with the design from start to finish were done by them. Within minutes, water was boiled from the stove in a kettle from and garri was immediately produced for consumption.
Another group had earlier processed the garri from the point of harvest, peeling and frying right inside the school field, venue of the exhibition.
Some students in the senior class group came up with a periscope locally produced which could be used to view objects from a long distance while another group fabricated a local ship and trailer vehicle powered by dry cell battery. The ship when put in a large bowl of water, sailed to a safe anchor
Another group also came with a 4 stroke engine, dismantled the engine and gave a rundown of its components and specifications in operation before they fixed it back again.
Some of the students spoke to Oriental News on how they came about the concept and their future expectations. Madu Stanley an SS2 student who produced the mobile ship said that the project is his first work. He said he will like to be a Marine or electrical Engineer after his university education.
“I did this with local materials including diodes and propellers. The propeller serves as the engine too and when I socket the switch to the battery, the propeller propels the ship in forward direction. I got this inspiration in my JS2 where I dreamt of when I can do something out of innovation and here I am” he said.
Simon Okeke in SS2 who produced a toy truck said it is his second time in production while he will no longer relent since the school management encourages talents to grow.
Ebonine Francis, another SS2 Student who wants to be a mechanical engineer gave Oriental News the components of a four stroke motor engine.
“The petrol engine with four strokes comprises of induction, compression power and exhaust strokes. With this diagram, you can see the oil filter, crankshaft, camshaft, valve and others. The major problem in most engines lies in the valves. The induction stroke carries the oil and fuel emissions with air; the piston goes down to the compression stroke. At the compression stroke, it is when the fuel and air are about to react so the exhaust and inlet valves are closed so they begin to react extending over to the power stroke. In the power stroke, the spark plug is open so they can combust freely and then in the exhaust stroke, the exhaust valve is open and the inlet valve is closed leading to the exhaust stroke” he said.
Eyisi Benedict in SS2 who produced the electric stove with his friends said they first took the design which they formulated to the welding department where it was fabricated. The wood fixed in the product serves as an insulator so that it won’t shock anybody. He says that when current comes into the stove, it first passes through the resistor and with a knob , one can measure or regulate the amount of current that passes into the stove through the heating element and with that , one is set to cook anything with the device.
Eyisi noted that producing the product was challenging but they surmounted all obstacles and will continue to produce more devices.
Nwofia Martins also is SS2 who presented a meter bridge which is used to determine the resistivity of a wire said that he wanted to study medicine in the university but may likely change his mind to go for physics related courses because of the discoveries he has made in the area.
Earlier in the science week programme, the school Principal, Rev.Fr. Paul Onyebuchi 11 in a key note address noted that the programme was designed in consistent with the vision and commitment to take advantage of every singular opportunity that supports and promotes the educational objectives and interests of both the college and the 21st century students.
“The management organized this science-based event with a view to addressing the fundamental problems and phobia students usually have in dealing with science subjects. This event is fashionably designed and intended to make science courses alluring, attractive, beautiful, enjoyable, pleasant, practical, real and useful in life. . The highlights of the programme are expected to make science courses an interesting field of endeavor and finally leave the participants with a reawakened interest, thirst and desire for science courses and professions.
“The journey we are about to begin today is a right step in a right direction. History affirms that the beginning of science and scientific method largely came from the ancient Greek world with such scientists and philosophers as Archimedes, Pythagoras, Thales of Miletus and so on. Intellectual gifts come in all races and colors and there is no better time to start dreaming of becoming a Nigerian scientist than now” the cleric said.
The Permanent Secretary, Anambra State Ministry of Education, Dr. Beatrice Okonkwo after commissioning the Mathematics Laboratory and watching the performance of the students told the reporter that she was practically elated on the practical aspect of teaching going on Tansi College instead of the classroom theory only.
She praised Fr. Paul and his team for their innovations and said their efforts are paying off most especially now that the world is already scientific. She said government is worried on the decline in the number of people offering sciences in the colleges and are making efforts in that direction to make the courses attractive
“We pay teachers incentives of 20percent of teacher’s salaries to those who teach the core science subjects under the World Bank SEPIP project. We also pay more incentives again to those who teach the subjects in the rural areas. Government is also equipping the laboratories and is also engaged in capacity training for teachers and we shall not relent.”
The guest lecturer, Dr, Eric Ofoedu of the Department of Mathematics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in a lecture titled “Mathematics, a necessary tool for excellent performance noted that mathematics is simply a game of numbers. He said that it is only those who don’t understand how the numbers are used that run away from the subject. Ofoedu noted that numbers is so important in life that no one can do without it. He said even God saw the essence when the Psalmist said in Psalms 90: 12 , Teach us to number our days on earth.
He admonished teachers not to confuse their students or to write them off as people without value so that they will approach their studies with every sense of purpose and seriousness.
The Academic Dean of the School, Rev. Fr. Maximus Okonkwo in a remark noted that the school had to include other practical aspect of studies like woodwork, technical appliances and arts in its academic programme in order to bring out the best in the young minds who will not only rule the affairs in Igbo land tomorrow but shall shine forth in different parts of the globe.
The event was graced by the Awka Catholic Diocesan Education Secretary, Rev. Fr. Sebastian Onuorah and the Awka Regional Secretary, Rev. Fr. Anthony Ufearo who all urged the school management not to rest on their oars in ensuring that the mission of equipping the students with the requisite training is not compromised.