January 2015
Contents / home
Bloodhound's supersonic quest
Deputy Minister visits SAASTA
SAASTA Highlights Report
SAASTA takes science to Beijing
Natural Science Olympiad
Community media pilot project
Crystallography kits for schools
PUB celebrates 10 years of biotech
Reaching visually impaired learners
School debate finals
Science communication workshops
KAT-7 seen as design highlight
Meet Nithaya Chetty
Eskom Expo 2014
SKA SA exhibits at BRICS EXPO
Algoa Bay Hope Spot launched
Inspiring environmental scientists
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Volunteers assist to develop hands-on crystallography kits for schools

  The challenge of selecting a seed crystal. Image: RADMASTE
  Learners are captivated by a copper sulfate crystal that has been growing at the end of a piece of string. Find out how to grow your own blue copper sulfate crystals. Image: RADMASTE
  Learners observe crystals great and small with hand-held microscopes. Image: RADMASTE
  SAASTA volunteers Anastesia Mayimela, Katlego Malesa and Jabulile Malindi. Image: RADMASTE
Three volunteers in the NRF/SAASTA programme who are stationed at RADMASTE, Wits School of Education, assisted in the development and trials of four hands-on activities for learners that featured in Bloemfontein and Orange Farm (near Johannesburg) during National Science Week.

RADMASTE (Research and Development in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education) developed the hands-on activities to create awareness and interest in crystallography in 2014, the International Year of Crystallography. Chosen for their cost-effectiveness and links to the curriculum, the activities focused on growing crystals, crystals great and small, modelling crystals and diffraction.

Crystallography kits

RADMASTE staff members, who are experienced designers of kits for school curriculum applications, assembled the equipment and chemicals for the four activities into a crystallography kit with a facilitator's guide and worksheets, which they plan to use at science centres around the country.

"We hope that our kits will make more and more learners aware of the importance of crystallography and hopefully also encourage some to become crystallographers," says Rene Basson of RADMASTE. "I am convinced that all who see and participate in the hands-on activities will view crystals in a new light for the rest of their lives."

The volunteers

Jabulile Malindi was the first volunteer from SAASTA to join RADMASTE in 2014. She studied Natural and Environmental Science at the University of Johannesburg as part of her BSc degree in Biochemistry and Botany, which she completed in 2009. While studying, she volunteered as a tutor of Biology and Chemistry during winter school holidays. From 2010 until recently, she was working part-time for two market research companies as a field and telephone interviewer.

Jabulile would like to work in agriculture, focusing on plant breeding and agro-processing, doing laboratory work and being part of research and development. In the future she looks forward to teaching at high schools for the less privileged to pass on her knowledge and experiences and motivate learners to opt for careers in maths, science and technology. Jabulile is already making a valuable input in the science sector by helping to develop crystal-growing activities for the International Year of Crystallography.

Katlego Malesa has a BSc degree in Computer Science and Mathematical Statistics from the University of Limpopo - Turfloop Campus. After completing his degree in 2009, he worked as an ICT lecturer at PC and Business College Campus in Kempton Park. There he lectured Information Systems, Quantitative Techniques, Database Systems and Computer Programming. Katlego was also an IT SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) final year group project supervisor.

From 2012 to 2013, Katlego worked as an intern at Inqaba Biotechnology as an intern, where he gained skills related to molecular biology (DNA sequencing and synthesis), OpenERP implementation and configuration, as well as data analysis in Bioinformatics. In 2013 he worked as a PA/Legal Secretary until joining RADMASTE in mid-February 2014. Katlego has a passion for Information Technology and is already using his skills to deal with computer-related issues at RADMASTE.

Anastesia Mayimela began her volunteer work at RADMASTE on 1 March 2014. She hails from Limpopo (Tzaneen). At the end of 2012, Anastesia completed the final year of her BSc degree in Biochemistry and Biology at the University of Venda (Thohoyandou). Her career goal is to become a professional laboratory analyst, involving growing in a company to learn and contribute as much as she can.

Anastesia is looking forward to learning more about the administrative and academic projects she is helping with at RADMASTE. She is assisting Jabulile with crystal-growing activities and, in so doing, is developing valuable skills with microscale equipment.


RADMASTE is a self-funding unit of Wits University's School of Education. It was founded in 1990 with the aim of improving the accessibility, relevance and quality of mathematics, science and technology education. The unit engages in projects of varying duration with funds from government, private corporations, international organisations and assorted donors. A UNESCO-associated Centre for Microscience Experiments operates at RADMASTE.

Read more about the unit and its microscience resources at www.radmaste.org.za and www.microsci.org.za. An informative article on the RADMASTE crystallography kits was published in Quest, Volume 10, Number 3 2014.