What’s Nerde

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Welcome to What’s Nerde, the newletter of iNERDE, a social enterprise creating opportunity for African youth.

iNERDE is bringing Malian kids to Washington, DC!

We have big news from Mali. iNERDE is going to bring a Malian high school team to Washington, DC for an international competition in robotics. We’re selecting Mali’s most nerdy kids and are going to teach them everything they need to know to shine on a world stage. We are going to show the world that the youth of Mali have talent, an enormous appetite for knowledge, and passion for science and technology.


124 countries are participating in the robotics competition FIRST Global July 16-18. This event is the “Olympic Games” of modern education. FIRST has asked iNERDE to train Mali’s national team and to bring them to the US for the competition.



That’s not all. The Panafrican Robotics Competion PARC will be held May 11-13 in Dakar, Senegal and iNERDE will be there with middle school and high school teams.

PARCWebWe’ve worked hard to ensure that the teams selected will represent the entire country. We asked the government to officially sponsor this activity and we asked the organizations working to improve education and further economic development in Mali to join with us. Many have.
The government of Mali began broadcasting across the various medias the following announcement:

Under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research as part of its mission to promote the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, commonly called STEM, and as a continution of the initiatives launched during Mali’s Celebration of the Sciences, iNERDE, in partnership with the City of Children, the School of Engineering, Architecture, and Urbanism, the Association of Women Engineers of Mali, CREATEAM, College Horizon, and the University of Science, Technical Disciplines, and Technology of Bamako, launch a call for candidates from middle schools and high schools to participate in two international robotics competitions. The compeitions are PARC, to be held in Senegal May 11-13 and FIRST Global to be held in the United States July 16-18. The students who are selected will participate in an intensive, free training program in robotics and the best students will represent Mali in the competitions. Applications will be available at the City of Children in Bamako and from the web site inerde.org/club. Applications must be completed by February 18 at 9am. Youth of Mali, get your applications in as soon as possible!
Together, we are going to show the world that the youth of Mali have talent!


We are launching a communications campaign to inform and inspire Malians and the world with the efforts of Mali’s national youth robotics teams. We are looking for sponsors to help support the teams and to help us seize this unique opportunity to implant STEM education in schools throughout the country. For more information about team sponsorship, please contact our Chief Nerdy Development Officer, Michael Leventhal, mleventhal@inerde.org.

The preparation of the teams will last 10 weeks for middle school students and 5 whole months for high school students. Malian students can download information and the application (in French) here. If you are interested, act quickly! The completed application and supporting documents must be presented at the City of Children, Bamako on either the 11th of February or the 18 of February.

Since having created a permanent office and learning center in Bamako, iNERDE has been working hard to build partnerships with other organizations in Mali working to advance education, science, technology and economic development. We are very grateful to the FIRST Foundation for their recognition of our efforts. We now have the opportunity to offer our students an extraordinary experience that we know will change the course of their lives in wonderful ways. We also have the opportunity to offer to Mali an event that is going to inspire the country with accomplishments of their youth that most would have believed to be unattainable for Malians. We are also very grateful to you, our supporters and our friends, for having stood with us these last three years. We are where we are now thanks only to you.

Valérie, future bridge builder and excellent at skipping rope!

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Future Bridge Engineer Valérie
Future Bridge Engineer Valérie

Valérie took time out of her busy play schedule during recess at iNERDE’s Summer STEM camp in Bamako to talk about life and her take on STEM education.

Valérie would like everyone to know, first off, that she is 9 years old, goes to L’Ecole de la Paix, and her birthday is on September 29th.

Valérie loves to read and is especially passionate about stories. She recounted a gripping story she had read recently, Le Conte Poule (The Chicken Story) where, tragically, a chicken kills a frog.

iNERDE’s STEM Camp has been a lot of fun for Valérie. She and her classmates have learned to work on STEM projects. She has learned particularly to write clearly in an organized way about STEM. She enjoyed learning how a computer works in computer science class and learning how to make a presentation on a computer using PowerPoint. Valérie explained that she had learned that there are different kinds of engineers. The work that a computer engineer and civil engineer do is quite different. She would like to be a civil engineer and build bridges because bridges help people. She is going to build bridges all over Mali one day. She finds that mathematics is a bit difficult, but, even so, she also enjoys math.

During our interview Valérie was gallantly accompanied by two boys, her classmates. When asked if the boys in her class were nice she smiled mischievously and said that were quite nice most of the time. She added that the iNERDE teachers were very kind, they never got angry and they helped her to understand STEM. She felt that she had understood nearly everything she was taught over the summer.

Valérie with Two Gallant Classmates
Valérie with Two Gallant Classmates

While learning STEM has been great, the most fun thing in camp to Valérie were the games during recess and, above all, skipping rope!