South Africa may be ranked among the worst countries in the world when it comes to maths and science education, but the pupils of Rosmead Central Primary in Claremont are having none of it.
In September, 10 pupils from the school’s science club not only walked away with first prize in the MCED Science Expo for Primary and High Schools, but also took the title in the annual Cape Winelands District Science Competition, hosted by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) Science Learning Centre for Africa, in collaboration with the Cape Winelands District Office.
For the past two years, the science club, run by science teacher Anthea La Vita, has encouraged the pupils to get involved in the sciences in the hope they will learn to love them and ultimately choose careers in the field.
In both competitions, the pupils had to conduct a series of experiments in just 10 minutes.
“They had to take the necessary safety precautions into consideration while explaining the various scientific processes and results,” said Ms La Vita.
“The main aim was to make it relevant to the pupils and see how it fits into everyday life. This was very exciting as much research had gone into making new discoveries.
“In one example, we placed two wine glasses at the ends of a broomstick, breaking the broomstick in the middle without the wine in the glasses spilling. This experiment was used to prove that an object at rest stays at rest.”
For all their hard work, the pupils were richly rewarded with a visit to the Space Centre in Hermanus, sponsored by the South African National Space Agency.
“I think what was so special about this trip was that they had the opportunity to meet two African scientists working at the centre. These scientists came from the townships and had difficult backgrounds, but it showed the children that with the right mind-set and commitment anything is possible. It was very inspirational to hear their stories,” said Ms La Vita.
“We were also given the opportunity to learn about satellite systems and South Africa’s contribution to the world’s space programmes.”
For their efforts, the pupils were also rewarded with R150 each.
“The success of our pupils in these competitions has created huge interest among all the pupils at our school. The whole school now wants to join the science club. I think before we entered the competition, we were underdogs. We couldn’t believe it when we won. We even cried on stage.
“I must say it has been a massive collaborative effort from everyone at our school. All our staff came on board. My colleague, Shanaaz Ceres, was incredibly helpful in assisting me in putting things together. Our music teacher also helped us introduce music and dance into our presentation. In fact, we used wine glasses to play the Rihanna and Calvin Harris song This Is What You Came For while one of the pupils sang, changing the lyrics to include lines about science,” said Ms La Vita.
“They worked so hard. Our pupils come from Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchell’s Plain, so transport is always a problem for them. Yet they stayed behind after school, they were so committed.”