April 2014
Contents / home
FameLabSA 2014
Science Lens winners
Young, innovative and gifted
Intern receives Fellowship in Paris
Transformation in marine science
Looking for the brainiacs of yesteryear
Skies alive with space activities
Training the trainers
On your marks ... Get SET Go!
Schools debates advisory committee
Science community volunteers
The science of giving back
New science communication resource
Bringing nanotech to the disabled
Meet media guru Daryl Ilbury
Water World @ Scifest Africa 2014
Exploring marine science
Sharks, vegetables and alien fish
SAIAB cares
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Young, innovative and gifted

  Learners attend the physics lecture at the Australian National University’s Research School of Physics
  From left: Vhutshilo Nekhwalivha (SAASTA Project Coordinator and chaperone) with learners Thomas Orton, Keitumetse Mokoena and Luthando Mdadane at the 2014 Australian National Youth Science Forum
  Learners dressed up for disco night at the Australian National University
  The NYSF promises to show participating learners things
they've "never considered".
Three learners who perform exceptionally well in SAASTA's National Science Olympiad are selected each year to attend the Australian National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) (NYSF) with assistance provided by SAASTA. This year Luthundo Mdadane, Thomas Orton and Keitumetse Mokoena were chosen to attend this prestigious event.

One of the most important elements of the forum is the half-day visits to research and industry facilities. Learners embark on a range of visits depending on their stated areas of scientific interest. The range covers physics, maths and computing, chemistry, biomedicine, animal and plant biology, earth and environmental sciences, and engineering. The aim is to inform, inspire and challenge learners to consider what working in different fields is really like. They have a unique opportunity to talk to dozens of practicing scientists and engineers at and about their work.

New technologies and sciences

This year's bright young learners were in awe as they gained insight into new technologies and sciences. Luthundo Mdadane felt the forum opened his eyes to the wide range of opportunities available in biology. "Over the course of the forum the group and I undertook various lab visits, covering a large range of biological sciences. This was my first experience using a micropipette," said Luthundo.

Keitumetse Mokoena thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with some of the great scientists at ACTEW Water, a facility which daily provides over 100 million litres of treated water to Canberra and Queanbeyan residents in Australia. Another highlight for the learners was a visit to Canberra Hospital where they explored an autopsy room and a museum dedicated to preserved organs. Throughout these lab visits the learners discovered many different professions that they did not previously know existed.

At the Australian National University they spent time visiting key research facilities, attending debates and forums on major scientific topics such as climate change and meeting with major industry partners such as the Cochlear Foundation, Murray Darling Basin Authority, University of Melbourne, Resmed and many more.

Myriad opportunities

According to Vhutshilo Nekhwalivha, SAASTA's project coordinator who acted as their chaperone, all these experiences at the various facilities played a major role in making the sessions a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for the budding scientists. "It vastly improved their understanding not only of the field of science they are interested in, but also of the myriad fascinating opportunities that science as a whole can present," she said.

The NYSF succeeds admirably in igniting the curiosity of the learners and providing them with valuable concepts, life skills and career options in science, engineering and technology. Whereas before they imagined scientists to be people who spend all their time in dreary labs, wearing white coats and doing experiments, they now know that a career in science is vital in solving many of the problems that the world faces today.

By Daphney Molewa, Corporate Communicator, SAASTA