PARTNERSHIPS & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

ESKOM Science Expo Project

Purpose of the programme

The SPU (SPU), as part of its community outreach initiative, seeks to establish a partnership with the organisers of the Expo for Young Scientist in the Northern Cape in order to establish a collaborative relationship with them and with participating schools within the Frances Baard education district.

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Phase 1 of the SPU project that dealt with hosting workshops at the university for learners from participating schools ended on 3 August 2018, where learners presented their science projects, either completed or partially completed. With the assistance of the mentor student teachers (both from the Intermediate Phase and Senior/FET Phases), and lecturers involved with the project, learners received guidance on how to present, display and interact with the judges regarding their science project during the regional science expo competition to be held over the weekend of 10-11 August at the Mayibuye Centre in Galeshewe.

In Phase 2 of the SPU project, nine of our senior science education students applied to act as shadow judges or as judges. Transport to and from the university residence and the science expo venue was provided by the Department of Basic Education, Northern Cape.

Feedback on the 2018 SPU Project:

  • Schools who participated in the SPU-run workshops expressed their appreciation to the university for hosting workshops for their learners and exposing learners to an environment that motivated them to develop their interest in science.
  • It was the first time in the SPU project that a school entered the Technology Innovation category with the emphasis on robotics-need to bring on board our Technology staff in the future to participate in the project.
  • The four participating schools were always in full attendance at all the workshops and the relationships with the respective science teachers from the participating schools became well established.
  • Two learners from the project won bronze medals for their science projects.

Future Plans

  • To encourage participation in the fabrication of projects in the field of robotics.
  • Establish and develop a much more cordial and professional relationship with the coordinators of the regional science expo.
  • To plan workshops that are more interactive and to invite good science teachers to make input in guiding learners in their decision-making and fabrication of their science projects.
  • To encourage our senior science students to participate in the project either as mentors or to become judges.

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The Northern Cape Sasol Inzalo Project

When did the programme start?

The pilot for the project was launched in the second semester of 2017 and involved three high schools in the Frances Baard education district. The schools were Emmanuel Secondary, St. Boniface Secondary and Tshireleco Secondary.

Main Aim/Objectives

To identify and interact with schools where there is a need for support and for building capacity in the field of science education. SPU (SPU) together with the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDoE) and the SASOL INZALO Foundation seeks to establish a collaborative partnership with schools in the Northern Cape in an effort to improve the quality of science education by providing these schools with educational resources which they otherwise lack or may experience infrastructural or human resource challenges.

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The project is also geared towards the facilitation of science-related experiments and demonstrations at participating schools as well as providing guidance to science educators.

Target Group(s): How many learners (Boys & Girls)

The target groups used in the pilot (2017) and in 2018 are Grade 10 learners. For the Physical Sciences, the number of learners involved averaged around 30 with the number of classes doing Physical Science varying from one to three per school. For the Life Sciences class average is around 40 learners. There was no discernible skewness in the ratio of boys to girls for the project.

Subject or Focus of Programme

To travel to underperforming schools with the mobile laboratory in order to support, improve and develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed in the performance of science-related practical work such as experiments and demonstrations in the Physical Sciences and the Life Sciences. To expose learners to the values and use of science-related technologies in real-life context.

Funding Source (How much do learners pay, if at all)

No fee is levied against the learners or the participating schools. Sponsorship for the project is mainly from SASOL INZALO Foundation with maintenance of the mobile lab done by SPU and human resource support provided by both SPU and the Northern Cape Department of Education.

Achievements since inception (Impact)

  • Establishment of good and cordial professional relationships with the participating schools and their science teachers.
  • Appreciation and enthusiasm shown by learners towards the project.
  • Principals were positive and eager for their pilot schools to also further participate in the project.
  • Presenters (lecturers) and science teachers contributed immensely in addressing the challenges and made valuable suggestions for future school visitations.
  • Mr Modiba and Mr Botes travelled to Carnavon with the mobile lab in 2017 for the science exhibition fair.
  • The establishment of a SASOL INZALO WhatsApp chatroom to deal with the logistics of the school visits and to convey information to the science teachers and presenters.
  • The Northern Cape SASOL INZALO project was visited in 2018 by a team from the SASOL INZALO Foundation.

Tracking of Learners in HEIs Maths & Science Careers (None for us at this stage? Or did some of those of last year enroll with us?)

None at this stage.

Future/Growth Plans (Upscaling Plans).

  • Continuation of school visits with the intention of including more schools and with the necessary support extend the project to the other education districts of the Northern Cape.
  • Provide targeted workshops at the university for science teachers over some weekends in collaboration with the Northern CAPE Department of Education.
  • Use Radio Temeneeng (local radio station) to discuss and expose this science project to both the urban and rural communities of the Northern Cape.
  • To involve retired science teachers to become part of the project by becoming mentors to neophyte science teachers.
  • To encourage science teachers and lecturers to focus on the research possibilities that a project of this type can offer.

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