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Next generation of scientists showcase their scientific research

By Raymond Khoza and Nozipiwo Hambaze, SAEON
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Every year in September one of SAEON's six nodes gets to host a science education outreach tour and symposium.

This year's symposium was hosted by the Elwandle Coastal Node at the Nelson Mandela Science and Technology Centre in Uitenhage, where learners spent time exploring the interactive exhibits.

It has become customary for the learners to be taken on an educational tour prior to the symposium to expose them to various types of science and technology careers. This year the learners had an opportunity to explore the manufacturing plant of Volkswagen South Africa, where they learnt how VW cars are manufactured.

SAEON Symposium

One of the speakers at the symposium, Xolisa Dlomo, a SAEON PhD student who is doing his thesis on "the physical process along the sea", encouraged the learners to stay focused and not to be discouraged by a challenging background. He acknowledged the work that SAEON is doing to empower learners and the general public.

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The group of learners at the Volkswagen manufacturing plant with SAEON education officers Nozipiwo Hambaze (front left) and Thomas Mtontsi

Mrs Vuyiswa Sandi from the Eastern Cape Department of Education also paid tribute to SAEON for its "wonderful education outreach programme and its contribution to science learning at the schools". She was impressed with the standard of scientific knowledge and the level of confidence displayed by the learners. She concluded her presentation by encouraging the learners to take education seriously.

In conclusion, Mr Mtengwana, the principal of Solomon Mahlangu High School, said that the SAEON symposium presented a model that could be expanded from school level to district and provincial level.

What the learners had to say

The learners found the education tour and seminar very exciting and inspiring. One of the learners, Anesipho Pama from Ntsika Senior Secondary School in Grahamstown, shared her thoughts:

"I feel so happy about the SAEON education outreach programme because it exposed us to several science and technology opportunities that I didn't know about. It also gave us an opportunity to experiment with a lot of things that we do at school and which is good for us as we are still growing in science."

Learner presentations

From SAEON's Arid Lands Node in Kimberley: Deolinda Selaledi, a Grade 11 learner at Thabane High School in Kimberley gave a presentation on "Using MiniSASS techniques to monitor the health of the Riet River at Mokala National Park".

From SAEON's Egagasini Node in Cape Town: Clarence Daniels, a Grade 10 learner from Houtbay High School, presented on "The effect of Iron (Fe) on Phytoplankton".

From SAEON's Ndlovu Node in Phalaborwa: Kwano Mathebula, a Grade 11 learner at Frans Du Toit High School gave a presentation titled "Comparing and contrasting of biodiversity at Haenertsburg".

From SAEON's Elwandle Coastal Node in Port Elizabeth:

  • Kamvalethu Rengqe, a Grade 11 learner from Solomon Mahlangu High School, presented on the topic "Converting salt water to drinkable water".
  • Sinesipho Billet, a Grade 10 learner from Sandisulwazi High School, compared a manual rain gauge and an automated rain gauge in his presentation.
  • Sinazo Poswa, a Grade 10 learner from Nombulelo High School, presented on "Nombulelo High School weather patterns over a four-year period".
  • Siviwe Madinda and Zamo Ngcoko, Grade 10 learners from Ntsika and Lungisa High Schools, gave a joint presentation titled "Rocky Shore communities: What, how and why?"
  • Marique Nolands, a Grade 10 learner from Mary Waters High School, shared her thoughts on "Should I become a marine scientist?"
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Learners from Ntsika Senior Secondary School explore the exhibits at the Volkswagen manufacturing plant. From left: Liselihle Kanana, Anesipho Pama and Usiphile Gazi

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