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Egagasini Node brings the ocean inland

By Thomas Mtontsi and Zubair Jackson, SAEON Egagasini Node
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Zubair Jackson presents his project on making seawater drinkable to deal with the water crisis in the City of Cape Town

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Thomas Mtontsi (bottom right) uses a Lego ship to show learners how marine research vessels operate at sea

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Learners use playing dough to make floating boats

Annually, the SAEON nodes are represented at the Science Engagement Symposium by a learner from the node’s education outreach programme.

This year the Egagasini Node was represented by Zubair Jackson, a grade 9 learner from Pinelands High School.

Zubair’s project titled Can we drink seawater? investigated some of the easier desalination methods as part of a solution to the water crisis the City of Cape Town has experienced in the recent past.

As winner of the SAEON Expo at Egagasini, he was offered an opportunity to present his project at the annual Science Engagement Symposium. This was Zubair’s reaction to the opportunity: "I had to take Rescue Remedy to calm my nerves as I never had to venture this far from my parents before."

Travelling from Cape Town meant that the Egagasini team would fly to Johannesburg and meet the rest of the Science Engagement delegation to travel together from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa.

Thomas and Zubair prepared an exhibition to engage inland learners about the ocean, which led to great interactions and interest on the part of learners from the hosting Ndlovu Node. Thomas used a Lego ship to explain how researchers work at sea.

Later in the day it was the learners’ turn to present their science projects as part of the symposium. "I was so nervous. When it was my turn to present I was sweating," says Zubair.

Scientists and the manager of the Ndlovu Node, Dr Anthony Swemmer, scored the learners based on their performance. Each of the presenters received a gift for their efforts. Dr Swemmer remarked that it was difficult to choose a winner as all projects were well thought out and great effort was put in as far as the science was concerned.

The visiting learners were treated to a game drive in the Kruger National Park along with the science engagement team. "To see a lion has always been on my bucket list. I can now tick this off as I watched them in their natural habitat and not in some zoo," says Zubair.

"I enjoyed my time in Phalaborwa and the Kruger National Park. Thank you, Mr Mtontsi, for taking such good care of me," Zubair concluded.

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