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SAEON’s investment in the scientists of the future pays off

By Lindokuhle Mavuso, DST-NRF intern based at SAEON's National Office
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Learners interact with one of the specialists on board the research vessel Ellen Khuzwayo

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Tania Moyikwa’s motivational talk sparked a passion for science in the learners

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The next generation of scientists listen attentively to a presentation

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SAEON Kid Clarence Daniels presents his research on the effects of pH on phytoplankton

As spring arrived and the buds began to bloom, SAEON hosted a special event for its budding scientists - a Science Engagement Symposium that was held in Cape Town on September 6.

The educational and fun-filled programme kicked off with a tour of the marine research vessel Ellen Khuzwayo that was docked at Quay 500 in Cape Town Harbour.

Learners had the opportunity to observe and learn about the science behind seamanship. This included an orientation on the navigational and deck equipment, understanding of the ship’s engine, implementation of safety measures in case of emergency, and requirements for pursuing a career in maritime studies.

It was evident that the learners were eager to acquire more knowledge about maritime careers as they posed numerous questions to the captain, specialists and engineers on board the vessel.

SAEON Science Engagement Symposium

After the tour, the learners proceeded to the symposium at the Marine Research Aquarium.

Scientific research is a key factor in providing solutions to our challenging environmental problems. Learners from grades 9, 10 and 11 that are part of the “SAEON Kids” programme run by the SAEON nodes, undertook scientific investigations to provide solutions to some everyday challenges.

The SAEON Kids confidently presented their data on the environmental issues they investigated by means of data collection and interpretation, reflecting their scientific knowledge. Pontso Mothibeli, a grade 11 learner from the Arid Lands Node, said that her research on vegetation monitoring has led her to discover that her passion lies in plant science. She told the audience that she has her sights set on becoming a botanist.

Tania Moyikwa, once a SAEON Kid and now studying towards her Master’s degree in Fisheries Sciences at the University of Cape Town, astounded the audience by sharing with them how immensely her journey with SAEON has contributed to her choice of science as a career. Tania’s presentation brought motivation and hope to all learners that they, too, can become scientists.

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