July 2013
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Debates winners in New York
SA learners scoop silver in Beijing
SA scientist impresses in FameLab
Nanotech draws attention in Kenya
SAASTA salutes David Block
Science Centre CEO awarded
Young science brainpower awarded
75 years of coelacanth research
Join in recording the diversity of life
Open your own Science Spaza
The Universe is expanding
"Space Skype" links kids
Coastal and marine science in SA
Internship programme
A scientist for a day
iThemba LABS - advancing knowledge
Ex ZooClub members' success
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

iThemba LABS - advancing knowledge

  Bending the tree while it is young. Staff members from the iThemba LABS division for community interaction and training interact with Grade R learners.
The iThemba LABS division for community interaction and training (CiT) has taken on the challenge to find ways to impact the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in Grade 12 during 2013.

A number of teachers in the Paarl area arranged a science camp at Bergkroon, just outside Wellington from 10 to 12 May 2013. Grade 12 learners from local high schools in Paarl (Paulus Joubert, Klein Nederburg, Charleston Hill, New Orleans and Noorder-Paarl) were offered an opportunity to immerse themselves in Physical Science; basically to eat-drink-sleep science for a whole weekend!

Dr Gillian Arendse, who heads up the Community Interaction and Training Division, attended the Friday night's session and had an opportunity to interact with the learners. "What an amazing group of kids; committed to becoming better by taking ownership of their own learning. Must say, I get energised when in a room with people who are willing to grow and develop," he said.

iThemba LABS, through the CiT-division, agreed to sponsor the accommodation of the 48 learners for the weekend and CiT staff members are looking forward to further engagements with this enthusiastic group of learners.

ABAFUNDI: Saturday classes

CiT is piloting a tutor programme which aims to support Grade 12 learners in Physical Science and Mathematics. The Abafundi programme, which started on Saturday, 11 May, is offered at iThemba LABS on Saturdays from 09:00 to 13:00 and learners from the Oscar Mpetha, Sithembele Matiso and Phillipi secondary schools are currently benefiting from the tuition.

Postgraduate students coordinated by the Postgraduate Forum are volunteering as tutors. The programme offers assistance in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics on a weekly basis, and the learners are assessed at the end of each session.

Even though there is a strong focus on improving the content knowledge of the learners, the programme also aims to impact the learners' attitudes and behaviour towards science (and learning in general). The Abafundi programme is an opportunity to change lives; one learner at a time.

Bend the tree while it is young ...

The CiT division's primary school project, Sophumelela ("we will succeed"), is aimed at supporting the teaching and learning of natural science in Grade 7. A number of schools (10 in the vicinity of iThemba LABS) have been identified to participate in the project. Another two schools from the Vredendal area will hopefully be included as part of the intervention.

The first phase of the project saw the introduction of science as an everyday phenomenon through interactive science shows. Further visits to the schools are planned to assist the teachers with the development of experimental activities to support the teaching of natural science in Grade 7.

Schools have been instructed to select five learners for iThemba's "future scientist programme". The future scientists met during the winter school holidays to participate in the "on-site" science programme, which afforded them the opportunity to visit a number of science centres around Cape Town.

The learners will also be competing in a science competition where they will be showcasing their presentation skills, problem-solving skills, and scientific knowledge. The last phase of the project is a camp during the September holidays that will focus on the development of their leadership skills.

Gillian comments: "I read an interesting quote the other day: 'You don't get paid, just to WORK. You get paid, to be SCARED!' Science advancement is truly a space where we are challenged on a daily basis; finding new ways of doing old things as we are expected to interact with different target audiences to create an awareness and appreciation of science. We were invited to interact with 100 Grade R learners at SACS (South African College Schools in Rondebosch) on Friday, 17 May. What an amazing experience; being able to see and hear the excitement! Kids are fearless! They ask questions and do not hesitate to volunteer answers! They interact and engage; they are open to new relationships and friendships. Wow, we can learn such a lot from them!"