Science challenge grows young minds

The top six schools with Tamboerskloof Primary in first place, Good Hope Seminary Junior School in second place, Mountain Road Primary in third, Prestwich Primary in fourth, Wingfield in fifth and Floreat Primary School in sixth.

Nineteen schools competed in a maths and science challenge at Cape Town High School on Saturday May 5.

The competition, run by NPO Leisure Education Trust, was to encourage children to have fun while doing maths and science.

However, there was a bigger plan for the children, as the competition was also used as one of the trust’s means to identify academically capable children and offer them scholarships for the rest of their schooling careers.

The Leisure Education Trust provides educational opportunities for needy and academically capable pupils from around the city by offering them scholarships and mentoring them during their academic careers.

The managing trustee, Ed Chandler, who runs the competition, which is in its second year, said 25 schools, that predominantly service needy communities, were invited to enter the competition.

Of the 25, 19 schools entered the free competition.

The participating primary schools were Chapel Street, Holy Cross, Mountain Road, Observatory Junior and St Agnes Convent from Woodstock; Holy Cross, Zonnebloem Girls, Zonnebloem Boys’, and Rahmaniyah from the District Six area; Prestwich, Tamboerskloof and Good Hope Seminary from the City Bowl; HJ Kroneberg, Fractreton, Koeberg Road and Wingfield from Kensington; Floreat from Retreat; Nerina from Bonteheuwel; and Thornton Primary School.

“The aim of the competition is to provide needy or impoverished children with a maths and science opportunity where they can compete as equals.

“This is to give them a fair chance to showcase their maths and science skills.”

Mr Chandler said schools chose teams of four Grade 7 pupils who completed tasks at the competition.

The teams did a pre-challenge presentation before they started their tasks for the day.

The tests were then assessed by four independent markers and the highest scoring school took first prize for the day. He said the tasks were set up by the trust, and children were required to use their schooling to complete them.

“The tasks cover a wide array of mathematics and science-orientated subjects, touching on the water crisis as well.

“The whole idea is to help children improve despite their circumstances.”

Last year, only nine schools took part, and the goal is to have all 25 invited schools take part.

Miguel Voight, 12, from Nerina Primary School, said he didn’t know what to expect.

“Although I’m nervous, I am very excited to have this opportunity. I will get a good academic reputation, and because we are not as privileged, it will be a struggle for my high school fees, so this is a good opportunity for me.”

At the end of the day, Tamboerskloof Primary School took first prize and walked away with tablets, headphones and vouchers.

Good Hope Seminary Junior School took second place, Mountain Road Primary School third, Prestwich Primary fourth, Wingfield fifth and Floreat Primary School sixth. Each child walked away with a scientific calculator. They would also be given certificates, Mr Chandler said.

Emile Paul van Rooi, the chairman of the Leisure Education Trust Alumni, joined the programme when he was at Montevideo Primary School. “My Grade 7 teacher put my name down for the aptitude test, so I got a good enough mark and they came to speak to my parents about a scholarship.”

The scholarship was then handed over to StatPro, which paid for the rest of his schooling, including his Medical Bioscience studies at UCT.

“The Leisure Education Trust was my chance in life. My parents definitely wouldn’t have been able to send me anywhere. They pushed me through everything, so I came back as part of the alumni, and I assist where I can.”

He said that over the years, he had watched children improve after they joined the trust.

Dietrich Baron, assistant manager of the Leisure Trust, said they currently mentor 196 children.

“We identify children via an aptitude test that we do at various schools in different communities, and we then offer them scholarships.

“We try to keep that talent in the communities and give them spaces in schools which are doing well in that area,” he said.

The competition will become an annual event.