MIT Solve Community Vote

Please vote for Yiya!

If you haven't heard the exciting news already...Yiya has been shortlisted as a finalist for the MIT Solve 2018 Global Challenges! We are finalists in the Teachers and Educators category. As part of this competition, we will be traveling to NYC at the end of September to pitch Yiya at the 2018 Solve Challenge Finals to kick off UN General Assembly week!


Before we even get to NYC, MIT Solve has announced a community voting competition amongst all the finalists. Please consider voting for Yiya on the MIT Solve website! You can find and vote for our Yiya profile here. The finalist with the most votes will be honored with a Community Award at the MIT Solve pitch event! Happy voting! 

MIT Solve 2018 Finalist!

Yiya is a finalist for MIT Solve's 2018 Global Challenges!

We at Yiya are so, so, SO VERY EXCITED to announce that we've been selected as a finalist for MIT Solve's 2018 Global Challenges!!! We have been invited to pitch Yiya at the Solve Challenge Finals on Friday, September 21 through Monday, September 24!

The MIT Solve Challenge Finals in New York City is the premier social impact live pitch event to kick off UN General Assembly week. The event will bring together the Solve community with a diverse group of innovators who will pitch their solutions to a panel of expert judges and a live audience on Solve’s 2018 Global Challenges: (1) Coastal Communities, (2) Frontlines of Health, (3) Teachers and Educators, and (4) Work of the Future. 

We are so excited to be amongst the innovators who will be pitching our solutions at this event! We have been selected as a finalist in the Teachers and Educators category. Innovators in this category have designed solutions to answer this question: How can teachers and educators provide accessible, personalized, and creative learning experiences for all? 

You can check out our MIT Solve application here!

The entrepreneurs whose solutions are chosen by the judges at this event will become part of the next Solver class, and will join the Solve community to build partnerships with cross-sector leaders—including Solve members such as BNP Paribas, Google, Ford Foundation, GE Ventures, MasterCard Foundation, Merck, and Save the Children—that help pilot, scale, and implement their tech-based solutions and take action on specific, actionable Global Challenges. 

This year, Solve received more than 1,150 solutions from 110 countries—we are so honored to have been selected as a finalist by MIT Solve and are already hard at work developing our pitch!

Many thanks to @SolveMIT for selecting Yiya as a 2018 finalist!

Formulating an organic pesticide!

This term, Yiya-trained teachers at Archbishop Orombi Secondary School and Lira Town College, both Yiya partner schools in Lira District- Northern Uganda, taught their students to apply the knowledge of science, mathematics and agriculture to design a technology that solves the problem of crop pests. The technology they made is an organic pesticide, which contained extracts from onion, garlic, neem, chili pepper, and other local herbs. Students worked in groups to research about the bacterial and fungal killing properties of the components that are contained in those ingredients and harnessed those properties to create their technology!

Students followed an iterative process of experimenting and prototyping until they came up with an effective product. Educators and the Yiya team supported students to follow the engineering design process, a step-by-step guide on how to create a relevant, feasible, and needs-based technology.

The sampled farmers around their school that tried this organic pesticide appreciated it and were impressed by the fact that students created it. This organic pesticide, when sprayed on crops, can repel most common crop pests!

In the STEM Educator Training (SET) that we conducted with teachers this past April, we challenged teachers to design a STEM curriculum with about 4-6 lessons that teaches students to design a technology that solves an agricultural problem. This is one of the lessons that teachers designed after the workshop and we are so impressed by these teachers for implementing their lessons.  We are also grateful to our field team in Lira for ensuring that these teachers got all the materials they requested to implement their units.

Over 83% of youths lack jobs in Uganda (largely because of lacking employability skills), but we believe that this kind of education will change the status quo! 

Cultivating Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs) at St. Katherines!

The CREATE Step at St Katherine's!

This week we are excited to share the technology that Yiya students at St. Katherine Girls Secondary School have created during the CREATE step of the engineering design process! These students are tackling the issues of crop disease and soil infertility by promoting organic farming practices in their communities! They are using agricultural engineering to cultivate indigenous microorganisms (IMOs). The application of IMOs has been shown to aid in soil mineral extraction and help with waste decomposition, as well as to boost the immunity of crops to diseases.


Students growing their own indigenous microorganisms (IMOs)

Under the guidance of their teachers and our Yiya field officers, St Katherines students researched how to cultivate IMOs. They designed a process for how to grow the IMOs in a small forest behind their school, and built the apparatus that would house the IMOs and their food. After a few weeks, they have had great growth and are now harvesting their first generation of IMOs! Students are so excited to begin experimenting with the application of this first prototype to their school crops!


Yiya teachers taking the lead!

We are so grateful to these teachers and students for their dedication and hard work, as well as their innovative approach to solving the problem of poor soil quality and crops that are vulnerable to pests and disease. We are especially impressed by the fact that, unlike previous terms, lessons in this unit were independently designed and implemented by the teachers of St. Katherines themselves. These teachers have been coming to our Yiya teacher trainings since late 2016 and now they are designing and leading their own Yiya engineering lessons! We continue to provide teaching support but the teachers are in the lead! We are so excited and impressed by their great work. These teachers are disrupting the status quo of the current education system in Uganda. This is what we at Yiya Solutions, call “REAL” learning.  Read here about our criteria for REAL learning.


More info about IMOs...

Indigenous microorganisms do not contain a single culture of beneficial microorganisms but rather a mixture of different microbes that are native to a particular region; it is a village of good bacteria! These bacteria promote soil health and assist plants by helping control the spread of harmful bacteria, accelerating the decomposition of waste materials, and supporting plants to extract important minerals from the soil to keep them strong and healthy.

IMO-based technology was originally developed and introduced by Dr. ChouHankyu in the 1960s. He employed this technology in natural farms and observed amazing improvements in soil structure and plant health. He discovered that soil which as been treated with IMOs regains its loaminess, tilth, structure. Even those super helpful farmer friends, the earthworms, begin to show increased populations after IMO application to the soil! Natural farming with IMO Technology has now been practiced in more than 30 countries in not only home gardens but also on a commercial scale. Read more here


Keep up the good work!

We are so proud of our Yiya teachers at St. Katherine Girls School for teaching and supporting students to create this technology! After the Yiya Interschool Engineering Competition & Showcase in early October, students will introduce IMO technology to farmers in Lira District to boost their organic farming practices.

Time to CREATE!

Time to CREATE!

This week in schools, teachers and their students are engaged in the CREATE step of the engineering design process! Throughout July they identified common challenges in the agricultural sector in Northern Uganda, then researched different solutions, brainstormed how they could use their science and math skills to design a brand new (or improved!) solution, made engineering plans and gathered materials...and now it is time to CREATE their first prototypes!

At Rapha Girls' School, teachers have designed an agricultural engineering unit on solutions to the challenges that persistent drought causes in their community. The students are designing small, low-cost greenhouses made from locally available resources to trap water released during the evapotranspiration process of plants. These greenhouses will prevent the water from evaporating so that the plants inside can reuse it once it has condensed back into the ground. 

In previous weeks students have done research on the water cycle as well as conducted experiments testing how much moisture different plants release during evapotranspiration. Now they are applying this knowledge to create their greenhouses! Each team of Yiya students at Rapha is building their own "mini-greenhouse" for the first prototype, which they will test later in August once all greenhouses are complete!

See the photos below of students building their greenhouses! Well done, Rapha girls!

Young Achievers Awards 2018 Finalist: Samson Wambuzi!

Yiya Cofounder Samson Wambuzi named as a Young Achievers Award 2018 Finalist!

Join us as we celebrate our nomination in this year’s Young Achievers Awards as finalists in the category of business! Yesterday evening Yiya co-founder Samson Wambuzi was officially unveiled in a glamorous gala at Serena Hotel Kampala, alongside the other 2018 nominees. It was so epic!  Click here to watch the moment when we were being announced.

The judges said they received over 400 applications; they reviewed all of them and then selected the final five per category. They also shared that the judging criteria centered around:

  1. originality of the idea
  2. quality of execution
  3. how it inspires other people
  4. social responsibility (i.e., how the innovation improves other people’s lives).

We are so excited to see that our innovation is doing well in these criteria!

Over the next two weeks, we will be making presentations before judges who will then select the overall winner in each category. Winners will receive their accolades in an award ceremony that will take place on August 18th at the Kampala Serena Hotel. We are hopeful that we will win, although we are the youngest organization in this category. Other nominees have been around for more than 4 years!

The Young Achievers Awards (YAA) is a project of Reach A Hand Uganda, aimed at recognizing and celebrating outstanding youth in the Ugandan community that have excelled in various realms such as the Arts, Entrepreneurship, Media and Journalism, Philanthropy, Innovation, Sports among others.

We are so very proud of Samson for being selected as a 2018 finalist...and we are excited to learn of the final award winners in two weeks. Well done, Sam!

2018 Term 2 Lessons Update!

We are so excited to share with you updates from the agricultural engineering unit lessons that teachers in the Yiya program are teaching this term to students in their schools. Unlike in previous terms, when the Yiya team has taken the lead in designing engineering units and then co-teaching them (with our partner teachers) at schools, this term we have supported our partner teachers to design an agricultural engineering unit of their very own! After designing their unique unit in teacher groups, partner teachers are co-teaching students together during Yiya lesson blocks, with the support of the Yiya field team. The lessons in these agricultural engineering units teach students how to apply the classroom knowledge of science, agriculture, and mathematics to design a technology that solves one of three major agricultural problems found in Lira District, Northern Uganda: destructive crop pests, persistent drought, and lack of post-harvest storage for perishable produce.

A small subsistence eggplant crop at a farmer's home in Lira District - Northern Uganda

A small subsistence eggplant crop at a farmer's home in Lira District - Northern Uganda

Our team has been hard at work supporting and observing teachers as they teach these units that they designed. These lessons are so special because, after every lesson, the Yiya team member who observed and supported the lesson meets with the parter teachers who taught the lesson, to reflect on how the lesson went. The Yiya team and the teachers together discuss how R-E-A-L the lesson plan was and what the implementation felt like. Everyone shares positive and constructive feedback from their own perspective. Click here to read about Yiya's recommended “REAL” teaching criteria.

During each post-lesson group reflection, Yiya team members and our partner teachers use an innovative lesson reflection tool that we developed. Please click here to see our innovative lesson reflection tool.

A poster made by Yiya partner teachers for their staff room at Archbishop Orombi Comprehensive Secondary School, reminding themselves to keep their teaching R-E-A-L!

A poster made by Yiya partner teachers for their staff room at Archbishop Orombi Comprehensive Secondary School, reminding themselves to keep their teaching R-E-A-L!

We strongly believe that program activities such as these teacher-led agricultural engineering units and group reflection sessions will equip and empower teachers to transform education into a student-centered journey focused on developing STEM skills through community-based engineering projects!

Examining the damage caused by destructive bacteria wilt to groundnut plants (the local name for Ugandan peanuts!)

Examining the damage caused by destructive bacteria wilt to groundnut plants (the local name for Ugandan peanuts!)

Do you want to see one of the lessons conducted by these Yiya-trained teachers? Very easy! Click here to watch part of the lesson that a Yiya partner teacher, Mr. Musa Ramathan, conducted at Rapha Girls Secondary School, Lira District, this past week. In this lesson, Mr. Musa, Mr. Baker, and their students were checking on the experiments that student teams had designed and set up in the previous lesson to evaluate the transpiration rate of different plants. This is one lesson in a larger unit in which students are researching, designing, prototyping, testing, and improving a low-cost greenhouse made from locally available materials, which can protect crops during the drought season in Northern Uganda!

Agricultural engineering unit! Teachers teaching it!

This term, Yiya-trained teachers in our partner schools are teaching students to use the classroom knowledge of science and mathematics to engineer a technology that solves a community challenge!  We gave an opportunity to our teachers to design an agricultural engineering unit that is aligned to the subject topics they teach at lower secondary. The agricultural technology that teachers are teaching will solve one of three common agricultural problems found in Northern Uganda: Destructive crop pests, long periods of drought, and post-harvest storage of perishable crop produce.  

Some of the technologies teachers have experimented with include: making a well formulated organic pesticide from certain plant extracts, designing a low-cost greenhouse that uses local materials, and mechanical water pumps! We are so proud of our teachers who worked to put in great effort to conduct the necessary research, design lessons, and conduct these lessons with students in their schools. Students in our partner schools are indeed experiencing what we at Yiya call “REAL” learning. Read here about our definition of “REAL” learning!

We are so grateful to our Yiya field team who are diligently supporting these teachers as they conduct their agricultural engineering lessons this term. Please come and see the students' final prototypes of these technologies at our annual Yiya Interschool Engineering Competition this coming October!

Launched competition prep activities!

The Yiya Interschool Engineering Competition season 2 is here! This week we have been in our partner schools in Northern Uganda pitching the competition and launching preparation activities. Our students are hard at work improving on the technologies they will showcase at the competition next term on October 6th, 2018.

This year, each school will showcase five technologies that they have designed to solve community problems. Four of the technologies have been developed through Yiya engineering units, and one is a technology of choice that each school is creating independently! 

Our field team has already shared the judging criteria with all participating schools and is supporting partner teachers and their students as they make preparations to ensure that the technologies schools are bringing will meet the Yiya judging criteria! Click here to see our judging rubric.

In even more exciting news, the hack-a-thon will be back at this year's competition! Schools will participate in an on-spot engineering challenge in the afternoon of the competition, after judges have reviewed their five technologies. In response to feedback from last year's competition, our Yiya partner teachers will be trained in early September on how to prep students for the hack-a-thon's test of on the spot creativity and teamwork. 

Please plan to attend this competition next term on Saturday October 6th, 2018 at St. Katherine Girls Secondary School in Lira District - Northern Uganda. More details to follow in the coming months!

Yiya 2018 Term 1 Impact!

Exciting news on impact!

We have crunched the numbers from our Term 1 teacher and student surveys, which cover the period from February-April this year when our Yiya team co-taught the Going Green! Mechanical Engineering: Creating Gravity Lights unit with teachers in our partner schools. This unit taught the math and science of gears and pulley systems in a hands-on, interactive way as students researched, designed, prototyped, tested, and improved gravity lights to provide free, environmentally-friendly night time lighting in their communities! Our teacher and student impact surveys are administered at the beginning and end of each school term to participating teachers and students in our partner schools, as well as non-participating teachers and students (our controls) in the same partner schools!

Attendance Data

In Term 1, student attendance at the Yiya lessons was 90%. In this time, female students constituted 61% of students at Yiya lessons and male students made up 39%. Partner teacher attendance was 88%.

Student Academic Impact

On the baseline survey before participating in the gravity lights unit, 61% of students correctly answered the physics question by calculating the velocity ratio in a simple 2-gear system. On the endline survey, this number jumped to 100% of students answering this physics question correctly! So cool!

For the complex gear system question (which required students not only to calculate velocity ratio but also APPLY this knowledge to a system that had multiple gears), 0% of Yiya students answered correctly on the baseline survey... But on the endline, 83% of students got it right! This huge academic gain for students shows that engaging with the concepts in a hands-on way helps students to truly understand physics knowledge, and enables them to apply it in more complicated situations. We are pumped!

Yiya benefits for students

When asked what the most important benefit of the Yiya program is, 62% of students self-reported that the most important benefit was learning how to create technologies that help solve problems in their communities.

Yiya benefits for teachers

When asked what the most important benefit of the Yiya program is, 54% of Yiya partner teachers self-reported that the most important benefit was their increased knowledge in hands-on, interactive, and engaging teaching strategies. In addition, 90% of partner teachers requested that the Yiya program be extended to more teachers at their school!

We are so excited by these program results from 2018 Term 1 and look forward to seeing what new gains our teachers and students make this term, in Term 2! We are endlessly grateful to our hard-working Yiya field team, our passionate and dedicated partner teachers, and the generous support of the Yiya community which makes this program possible for our brilliant student-engineers! Thank you, thank you!