July 2015
Contents / home
Special award for Limpopo learner
National Science Olympiad Awards
Youth Science Focus Week
Showing career opportunities to girls
Africa Code Week
FameLab International Competition
My FameLab experience
Debates winners off to New York
Finding solutions to energy problems
Centenary of Proxima Centauri
Meet SAASTA's Gao Tiro
Refocusing our lens on our youth
Science on a research vessel
Partnership to conserve water
Managing freshwater resources
Rhodes and SAIAB promote science
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Schools Debates winners jet off to New York

In May this year, the winners of the 2014 SAASTA Schools Debates competition enjoyed an action-packed and fun-filled week in vibrant New York City, where they were hosted by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

The winning team, comprising five boys from Queens College in the Eastern Cape, were accompanied by their educator, Ms Tobeka Sihlahla and Ms Anacletta Koloko from SAASTA.


The winners of the 2014 SAASTA School Debates competition enjoyed an action-packed week in vibrant New York City
The winning team on their first day in New York City with their educator, Ms Tobeka Sihlahla (left) and Ms Anacletta Koloko, SAASTA (right)

Arriving in New York on May 11, the team received a warm welcome from their AMNH host Sarah Ingram. On the first day of their trip, they visited Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts where they were taken through a dynamic programme by host Karl Clarke. The team engaged in various cultural activities such as dance, poetry and cultural exchange debates and also participated in one of the English classes.

The visit to the school was followed by a tour along Times Square, where the group was met by an MTV crew for a surprise impromptu TV interview.

A day at the Museum

Next on the programme was a day spent at the AMNH, a highlight for many of the learners. The day started with a fascinating geology session led by geologist Alex Zirakparvar, followed by an insightful session led by Jay Holmes on two dioramas – North American mammals and Life at the Limits. In the afternoon Dr Lorenzo Prendini accompanied the learners on a guided tour through the museum's wet specimen and insect collections. Dr Prendini is a former South African who is currently the Curator of the museum's Division of Invertebrate Zoology.


The winners and their educator were hosted by the American Museum of Natural History
The group is met by the MTV crew for a surprise impromptu interview

Exploring the Big Apple

On day four of the visit, the learners were treated to a cycle tour around New York, followed by a Circle Line boat cruise. Circle Line is one of the oldest 42nd Street landmarks and recognised as one of the most famous boat rides in the world. Owned and operated by New York Cruise Lines Inc., its boats sail around the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty and back, passing such sights as Ellis Island, the historic immigration centre, the Rise of Freedom Tower, and the World Financial Center.

The next day marked the group's final visit to AMNH. Dynamic presentations by biologist Christopher Raxworthy and astrophysicist Ashley Pagnotta were followed by a mind-blowing planetarium show on the Dark Universe at the Rose Center.

The day ended with a visit to the Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan, a national historic landmark and one of the tallest buildings in the city. From the Center's observation deck, the learners enjoyed a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of New York City.

Then it was time to head back to South Africa. The winners of the 2014 School Debates competition all said that the visit had surpassed their expectations – they enjoyed the sightseeing excursions as well as the educational visits and formed networks to an extent that some are considering pursuing their studies at universities in America.


Exploring the Big Apple's famous landmarks
The group on the observation deck of the Rockefeller Center with their AMNH host Sarah Ingram (front row left)