The Science and Technology Education Centre at UKZN (STEC@UKZN) hosted a group of students from the Margot Fonteyn High School in Pinetown in celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
The goal was to develop young minds in the fields of Agriculture, Engineering and Science as well as to expose learners to experiments and apparatus they may not have seen at school.
The day is a United Nations initiative aimed at addressing the gender gap that exists in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
Scientist Dr Tanja Reinhardt, who is the Co-ordinator of STEC@UKZN, addressed the youngsters on momentum and velocity concepts and tested their knowledge retention. Reinhardt also spoke about her experiences as a woman in science with the goal of giving the students something to aspire to.
Learners were also addressed by Ms Shenelle Govender, who is an assistant at STEC@UKZN and an engineering and environmental geology student. Govender spoke on her plans to further her environmental geology studies and bring Science education to children.
The event closed with an interactive science show that left learners in awe of the possibilities Science offers.
Ms Innocencia Msiya is a learner who hopes to become an agricultural engineer. She supports efforts to bride the gender gap, saying: ‘More female scientists are needed to eliminate the perception of this being a field only for men,’ she said.
Another learner, Ms Nelisiwe Mchunu, appreciated the momentum and collision demonstrations as they are part of her course. Mchunu said the school did not have the resources to perform the experiments.
School teacher Mr Sanele Sithole, said the event had stimulated the learners’ critical thinking ability. ‘Exposure to different environments creates a love, drive and passion for science and stimulated thinking,’ he said.
The day was an enjoyable and inspiring event that opened doors for the minds of future women and girls in Science.
Words: Krielan Deby