What makes a student project authentic and meaningful? How can we better prepare our students for real-world tasks through project-based learning? This year in our Innovation and Leadership programme, we’ve focused heavily on levelling up our projects, so that students engage in projects with a public audience and an authentic task. This led us to two culminating events – our Nova Talks event and our Social Entrepreneurship Shark Tank.
The main highlight of the year was our first annual Nova Talks event, held on 23 June 2023 in USIU auditorium. This event brought the top two speakers from each of our Nova Pioneer Kenya high schools to share their Talk on the theme, “Impacting the African Century”. Form 4 students across our high schools were challenged to write and deliver a talk on how they’ve made a positive impact on the world during their time at Nova Pioneer. Lessons for Term 1 Innovation and Leadership focused on best practices in delivering a talk, and each student gave a talk in their Innovation and Leadership class. Students then selected the top talks from their classroom to go on to speak in front of the school, and then the students selected the top two talks to represent their school at the final showcase event.
The event, which brought together students and families from across all six Nova Pioneer schools in Kenya, featured MC Elijah Odundo and judges Chinezi Chijioke, Dr. London Moore, Agatha Juma and Mary Onguko. Miss Mureithi and Miss Waiharo of Nova Pioneer Tatu Girls gave the best speech overall, sharing their idea for “Plastikey,” a business aimed at reducing plastic waste by repurposing waste materials into urban farming materials. Their speech was supported by concrete examples of their ideas brought to life. Miss Maina and Miss Nzou, also of Tatu Girls, emerged as the most compelling speakers, sharing their business idea for “THREAL: An African Heritage Story,” providing an online platform for young Africans to connect with one another and learn about their heritage, correcting flawed global narratives on the African experience. Their presentation included movement and music, capturing the audience’s attention as they shared their message. Finally, Master Mukisa of Eldoret Boys earned the award for most compelling concept through his talk titled “UKUAJI: Fostering Joint Economic Growth Through Diversity and Inclusion”, which provided innovative solutions for revitalising rural communities and fostering community engagement and pride.
Later in the term, Tatu Boys hosted Nova Pioneer’s second annual Social Entrepreneurship Shark Tank event on 7 August, 2023. Over the course of Term 2, Form 3 students across all four high schools learned about social entrepreneurship, building business and impact models for their own social enterprise idea. The top team from each school went on to the final Shark Tank event, in which they delivered their social enterprise pitch live to a team of “Sharks” – Kenyan business and non-profit leaders. The 2023 “Sharks” included Catherine Kiama, Director of Programmes and Impact at She’s the First, Jedidah Ndubi, Senior Investment Associate at Acumen Fund, Linnet Muturi, Educational Counsellor at Uniconnect Ltd., and Hilda Nyareso, Chief Operating Officer at Shamiri Institute. After each pitch, the Sharks gave their live feedback to each team, and offered their total mock investment for each team.
Tatu Boys team “NIXIE AI”, which included Master Munene, Master Richard, Master Wangai, and Master Mbowe, won the event with a total of Ksh.12,700,000 across the four judges. Their innovative idea focused on AI-supported mental healthcare for young people. This was the second year running in which a team from Tatu Boys won the event, as the Tatu Boys team “TuLink” won the competition in 2022.
Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited to further build on our Innovation and Leadership programming. We will be launching our Grade 8 Innovation and Leadership curriculum next year, focusing on Failing Forward, which all Grade 8 students will take alongside their regular lessons. We will also launch an Artificial Intelligence unit in the Innovation and Leadership curriculum in 2024, helping students to understand the role AI will play in our changing world, as well as the technical aspects of artificial intelligence.
Innovation and Leadership remains a top priority for Nova Pioneer in the years to come, and we cannot wait for you to see what we have in store next!