Fun learning Science2Go project drives into the Cape’s most under-equipped schools
- Hundreds of learners and teachers in some of the Cape’s toughest neighbourhoods to receive practical, hands-on Science and Maths skills training through Science2Go
- Science2Go is the brainchild of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (Casme) and MAHLE Behr South Africa
- SA Muslim Charitable Trust donates more than R1.75mn to keep Science2Go running and fund first mobile lab for Western Cape schools
- Parallel Science2Go projects are already making a difference in EC and KZN provinces
MOBILE Science laboratories are driving into some of the Cape’s toughest neighbourhoods in a quest to develop the subjects of Maths and Science in local schools and grow the pipeline of technically skilled professionals in South Africa.
The Science2Go mobile teaching labs are the brainchild of the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (Casme) and German auto parts manufacturer, MAHLE Behr, which has factories located in South Africa.
The project has already reached roughly 493 schools, 1 902 teachers and more than 80 000 learners in Gqeberha and KwaZulu-Natal. A Science2Go mobile lab has been deployed in the Western Cape for the first time this year.
Each sponsored vehicle comes to schools fully equipped and manned by a science education specialist and a laboratory assistant who work alongside teachers. Typically, one vehicle can reach 30 schools once or twice each term.
Official data estimates that only 30/35% of schools in South Africa have functional laboratories. Casme Director, Henre Benson, said that the intention was to bridge that gap and provide fun learning experiences for learners and support for teachers.
Benson said a Science2Go mobile lab could take anywhere from six months to a year to get on the road. Timelines are governed by the time it took to secure funding, recruit a team, and acquire the necessary resources. Each vehicle (a double-cab bakkie) is estimated to be worth R500 000 – R600 000 fully kitted, he said.
Science2Go has launched in the Western Cape thanks to a charitable donation from the SA Muslim Charitable Trust of more than R1.75mn.
Science2Go partners also work closely with schools’ management teams, provincial education departments, and teachers, who Casme said are at the coalface.
MAHLE was excited to see Science2Go take off in other communities. Jolene van Heerden, MAHLE South Africa Communications Manager said:“For MAHLE, it is about growing the pipeline of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) skills. We want to feed that pipeline and help promote Maths and Science, especially amongst girls.
“As an auto industry, we must take ownership of growing our skills pipeline. A lot of organisations start too late. We want to create a passion and excitement for Maths and Science, and to be with learners on their journey.”
The ) has already improved learner performance by 20%, she said. Van Heerden added: “In the beginning, the challenge was to get buy-in. We had to prove ourselves. The intervention provided by Science2Go, has made an impact.. More importantly to us, teachers are the ones who are spreading the word.”
SAMCT Trustee, Wasiem Abbas, was happy to see more training, resources and opportunities coming to the WC. He said: “Every child has the right to quality [SR1] education, regardless of their circumstances. Education plays a vital, foundational role in empowering and uplifting communities.”
Speaking at a Science2Go launch event at the Vuyiseka Secondary School in Philippi in Cape Town this week,Suanne Rampou, Senior Curriculum Planner for Natural Sciences in the Western Cape Education Department, praised the partnership.
She said: “Casme came to our province at the right time and while we are struggling with increasing the number of learners taking Physical Sciences. We need to excite our learners and enhance their science skills and content knowledge.
“We are trying to make Science practical, so that it is relevant to the learners’ everyday lives… We have to move away from ‘chalk and talk’ approach by teachers and use a more hands-on,l Rampou hoped teachers would make the most of the opportunity. “Casme will not be at one school every day. The teachers should learn from Casme and implement these skills at classroom level. The role of the teacher is to co-teach, not to sit in the staffroom.”