The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) aims to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering and technology in South Africa. SAASTA is business Unit of the National Research Foundation.
AstroQuiz - A competition aimed at Grade 7 learners based on themes around astronomy. Even if your school is not participating in this quiz, you can download the booklet Your Guide to the Universe (2.54MB) and learn about the fascinating topic of astronomy.
SAASTA funds, coordinates and manages the AstroQuiz project, liaises with the participating centres, and supplies the project resources with assistance from the astronomy community (Your Guide to the Universe booklet, question bank, scoring sheets, Q&A sheets, PowerPoint presentations, check lists, rules).
SAASTA also organizes the final quiz event between finalists from the centres, prints certificates and arranges the prizes for this event.
SAASTA invites selected centres to participate in the project. Each participating centre is responsible for implementing the project up to the finals, and to liaise with their local Department of Education and schools.
In October 2005, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre received a grant from SAASTA to plan, implement and manage an astronomy quiz for Gauteng primary schools as part of the national Astronomy Platform Month.
The event was held in the form of a knock-out quiz for teams of Grade 7 learners, with winners in each stage progressing on to the next round. The project, with 23 schools participating, was a resounding success, drawing much attention in the community.
A primary school Astronomy resource pack was produced and made available for distribution to schools as part of the competition.
Based on the success of the Sci-Bono project, SAASTA expanded the project in 2006 into a competition that was implemented in five invited centres: Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory, the South African Astronomical Observatory, the Southern African Large Telescope, and the Boyden Observatory. In 2007, SAASTA invited six centres to participate, adding the Unizul Science Centre to the list. In 2008, the North West University Science Centre joined the participating centres, and Mondi Science Centre asked to join in, funding the Mpumalanga leg of the quiz from their own pocket.
With the unexpected and enthusiastic assistance (both in staff time and resources) of the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Departments of Education for this project, the number of learners and educators reached could be increased significantly in 2008. Boyden arranged for 125, Gauteng for about 90 and KZN arranged for about 50 schools to participate in the preliminary rounds of the AstroQuiz.
In 2009, over 1600 learners participated in the first round of the SAASTA Astronomy Quiz.
The proposed project aims to improve teaching and learning of basic astronomy in primary schools.
The objectives of the project are the following:
The Participating Schools
Each participating centre works with their local education department office to identify and select participating schools. A recommended number of 30 schools per centre was set for the first project, but centres are encouraged to involve greater participation with the assistance of their departments of education. A significant number (75%) of the selected schools should be from disadvantaged communities. Each school fields one team of four Grade 7 learners.
Each school has to designate at least one but not more than two teachers to manage the project and to act as coach for their team. The centres arrange workshops for the designated teachers to inform them of the procedure of the project.
The quiz is run as a knock-out event. Teams of four grade 7 learners per schools enter, with each participating school being allowed to field one team. Many schools run internal quizzes with teams of four learners competing to be the team that eventually represents their school in the inter-schools quiz.
Each leg of the quiz involves school teams competing to answer a set of 30 questions. All schools answer the same questions. Half of the competing schools are knocked out in each leg. Eventually, one school is selected at each centre as their finalist for the national finals event.
The resource pack
The resource pack consists of a collection of learning material from which the questions posed during the quiz are drawn. The booklet Your Guide to the Universe forms the main component of the resource pack.
The resource pack aims to provide a competent teaching and learning resource that can be used for general purposes and not just as a resource for participating in the astronomy quiz. Astronomy is not a familiar topic for many teachers and the pack serves as a good platform for curriculum delivery and to promote astronomy awareness.
Additional resources such as printed posters are also provided by SAASTA.
Support resources for centres:
The quiz take on the format of a number of multiple choice questions where teams have to simultaneously answer between four possible responses. For the first leg of the quiz, when it is not feasible with the large number of teams participating, the format involves a question paper with written responses.
Each leg of the quiz involves 30 questions with an additional five on top of this in order to cope with tie breaks. The questions are mostly drawn from the resource pack, with a small number of general knowledge questions thrown in. A fixed time limit is allowed for each multiple choice question.
Round 5 - FINALS:
The format for the national finals, in which one team from each participating centre competes, is the same as for the previous rounds, but with the following changes: