KwaZulu-Natal youngsters got the chance to experience what it is like to be a scientist when the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) presented its annual Be a Scientist for a Week programme on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses.
According to College Public Relations Officer, Ms Swasti Maney the fun, educational and interactive programme – aimed at Grade 10 and 11 learners – gives them an opportunity to participate in various science practicals drawn from a range of scientific disciplines.
Maney said the project was ideal for learners interested in the Sciences and keen to find out more about what is entailed at university level.
The programme also gives learners the opportunity to engage with staff and students, view UKZN’s facilities, enquire about career opportunities and obtain career guidance and application information.
On the Pietermaritzburg campus, participants got involved in practicals at the School of Chemistry and Physics, the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science and the School of Life Sciences (including Microbiology, Genetics and Ecology). The programme included an educational field trip to WESSA uMngeni Valley Nature Reserve and a career assessment by UKZN Career Development Officer, Ms Karuna Mahadave, using a Temperament Sorter.
‘UKZN’s PMB campus is beautiful with exceptional resources,’ said Ms Inge Truter of Voortrekker High School, who added that she found the career assessment by Mahadave to be very insightful.
‘The professors are passionate and well informed,’ said Juwairiyyah Bhigjee of Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School.
On the Westville campus, learners undertook practical experiments in the fields of Biochemistry and Chemistry, and went on a tour of the Vibration Research and Testing Centre (VRTC) and Smart Grid where they interacted with Engineering students. They tackled several mathematical and computer science simulations and built their own galaxies to better understand astronomy. Their week culminated with a field trip to Dube Tradeport where they toured a cucumber farm and tissue culture lab.
‘These opportunities come once in a lifetime so I’m so grateful I got to experience being a scientist for a week,’ said Grade 10 learner, Ms Amahle Ngcobo.
Words: Pumla Dlamini