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US Embassy Backs Children's TV Show to Simplify Sciences, Empower Girls

The show is designed to foster a culture of curiosity, discovery, and critical thinking while promoting girls’ empowerment and providing young people with accurate information about health, science, and environmental issues that affect their daily lives.
US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown with some of the children including actors, after the screening of the first episode of the TV show's second season

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The US Embassy has unveiled a new TV Show that will simplify concepts related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics-STEM and encourage girls to pursue science subjects.

The show is designed to foster a culture of curiosity, discovery, and critical thinking while promoting girls’ empowerment and providing young people with accurate information about health, science, and environmental issues that affect their daily lives.

The show was filmed largely in Uganda and created by a U.S based NGO Peripheral Vision International (PVI)  in cooperation with educators and students from Kampala’s Clarke Junior School following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to address educational and social challenges faced by young people during school closures.

Ambassador Natalie E. Brown launched the second season of the show dubbed N*Gen ( Next Generation), at Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI in Entebbe, last evening. The launch preceded the screening of the season's first episode where children under 13 explored viruses and vaccines by interacting with scientists from UVRI and the public laboratories.

In the clip from the episode, Dr Julius Lutwama, the Deputy Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute, engages the child actors on what viruses are, how they look under a microscope, how they spread, and how to prevent their spread. Each segment ends or starts with a summary from two presenters who introduce a topic and thereafter summarise the discussion to remind children of what they have just learnt.

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Ambassador Brown says the first episode, the virus and vaccine episode, highlights the extensive history and infrastructure of Uganda’s public health institutions and their role in preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious diseases through decades-long collaboration with the United States.

"Our collaboration with N*Gen has made it possible to share the story of our incredible collective work with audiences of all ages across Africa and elsewhere in the world; to offer ongoing learning opportunities for all children whose education has been impacted by Covid-19; and to help viewers to stay healthy and informed about viruses, vaccines, and other issues affecting their daily lives," Brown said.

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She says the first season of N*Gen aired on NTV-Uganda, was so popular that it is broadcast on 44 networks in 14 African countries, shown in the U. S and the Caribbean, and is also available on YouTube. The first season focused on combating climate change and aspects of the human body.

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However, Davidson Mugume, a producer of the second season of the TV show, says that, unlike the first season where it was only scientists and teachers providing information, children were involved in the second season and they travelled to laboratories, wildlife conservation centres, and research areas such as Zika Forest so as to learn from the scientists but also learn through what they see, feel, and touch during the process. "Children learn better from each other. So we hope that the show will make sciences easier to understand," Mugume says.

The child actors Adira Namubiru, 13, Ashelynne Penzi Ndagire,10, and 8-year-old Liam Nsubuga Lwanga say that their participation in the show has made them love sciences and want other children to also love sciences. Some of the children told our reporter what they learnt from the first episode of the TV show.

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Dr Jennifer Serwanga, the Assistant Director at UVRI, who participated in the show by teaching children how vaccines are made, is convinced that such initiatives will make more children understand and love sciences.

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Parents led by Deborah Nakyejwe agree, saying the show simplifies complex science concepts. 

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