Tag: science centres

Osizweni Develops ECD learners through competitions


~ by Angela Stradford

Early childhood development, a concept that might not be that familiar with our community, is slowly becoming more and more popular. Parents and schools are realising the impact proper early learning has on children.

Osizweni’s Toy Library provides children at the early childhood developmental phase (age 3-7) with opportunities to use a variety of educational toys that have been specifically designed to cultivate their cognitive, social, psychological and physical competencies in fun and interesting ways. The centre is not merely for the purpose of keeping the children occupied outside the conventional classroom. It is facilitated learning through a wide array of educational equipment, guided by practitioners and the Toy Library staff. As the children navigate through the different educational tasks, they acquire skills and competencies (such as sustained concentration; adequate grasp of chronology; resilience; social cohesion; self-confidence) that enhance their school readiness levels, and allow their transition from preschool to school to be less stressful.

On a weekly basis over 30 Early Childhood learning Centres visit the Toy Library in an attempt to benefit from the many educational resources made available to them. On an annual basis, the Toy Library hosts a competition for the top 10 attending Early Childhood Centre’s. These Centres compete against one another in an aim to achieve the following:

  • Give learners an opportunity to express themselves by displaying the knowledge and skills they have acquired at the Centre throughout the year
  • Introduce learners to healthy competition from a young age.
  • To lay a good foundation enabling better progression in life.
  • To encourage and enhance the love for numeracy and literacy.
  • Encourage and motivate Practitioners through the performance of their learners.
  • Allows Practitioners introspection of their work.

Learners compete in teams by taking part in 15 different activities, these activities included puzzles; numeracy worksheets; patterns; Maths lotto; Maths bingo; visual tracking; threading and matching objects. These inter-active activities are either done manually or are computer based.

ECD centres rotate their group of learners between activities. Learners begin the activity at the same time, the top three winners in each activity are selected based on correctly completing the activity in the shortest amount of time. The school with the highest amount of placings wins the overall competition.

This year’s winners for the Grade R group of learners are Illuminate Day Care Centre in first place followed by Bambanani Day care Centre in second place and Isiqalo Day Care Centre in third place. The winners for the age 4-5 group of learners are Ekujabuleni Day Care Center in first place followed by illuminate Day Care Centre in second place and Isidingo Day Care Centre in third place.

The impact which the Toy Library has on learners is always seen during these competitions. Most of the best performing Day Care Centres are those who are committed and consistent in their weekly attendance to the Toy Library the learners did well and we are very thankful to the Day Care Centres that participated in the competitions” said Maker Masemola, Osizweni Toy Library Senior Practitioner.


Oops!… We Did it Again! UKZN wins gold and the trophy for the best individual stand at 2017 Royal Show

~ by Sally Frost

Britney Spears must have had UKZN specifically in mind when she penned the lyrics for her famous song, “Oops! I did it again” –  for once again the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, winning Gold and the trophy for the best individual stand at the 2017 Royal Show.

‘UKZN rated highly in all categories, and we were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and extra effort put in by the students and staff who manned the UKZN stand,’ said Royal Agricultural Show Manager, Terry Strachan.

‘Our win was without doubt due to both the passion and the impressive knowledge of our staff and students at the stand who went out of their way to share their expertise with the general public,’ said mastermind behind the project and Public Relations Officer for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Ms Swasti Maney.

Run in conjunction with the second Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium, the stand showcased research done within the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences in the fields of climate change and food security.

Attractions included an innovative project being undertaken by UKZN Enactus students involving vertical farming and food security for university students;  an interactive climate change model showing drought and flooding scenarios; work done by UKZN’s Farmer Support Group with small-scale farmers; and specially designed ‘khukhu khayas’ (chicken homes) for easy access to protein supplies.

To add a bit of spice and crowd attraction, the School of Life Sciences had an impressive collection of creepy crawlies on hand, including tenrecs and hissing cockroaches from Madagascar, tarantulas, and an array of boa constrictors both thick and thin.

With STEC@UKZN’s “Dr T” wowing both young and old with her magical science show, there was always a fascinated crowd on hand to learn more about what UKZN has to offer.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has exhibited at the show for several years, consistently winning prizes for its displays.

Pietermaritzburg’s Royal Agricultural Show, now in its 163rd consecutive year, is the premier agricultural and lifestyle event in the province which attracts over 180 000 people during the 10 days that it runs.

Sally Frost

Australia Awards Fellows have been INSPIRED to INSPIRE

by  Australia Awards Fellows

Australia Awards Fellows: Image courtesy of ANU.

Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships and fellowships funded by the Australian Government. The Australia Awards Fellowships build capacity and strengthen partnerships between Australian organisations and partner organisations in eligible developing countries in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities. Fifteen delegates from eight African countries: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius, Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania were selected to participate in the Australia Awards Fellowship Science Centre Capacity-Building Leadership Training sponsored by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). They were selected based on their commitment and track record on the science centre movement in their respective countries by the Australian National University’s (ANU) Centre for Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) under the Science Circus Africa programme.

Australia Awards Fellows: Image courtesy of ANU.

The six week intensive training programme was hosted by the ANU’s CPAS, Australia’s oldest and most diverse academic science communication centre and the only accredited science communication centre for UNESCO. The training was conducted and coordinated by Prof. Mike Gore (founder of Questacon, Australia), Prof. Sue Stocklmayer (a well-known researcher in Science communication), Dr. Graham Walker (Manager, Science Circus Africa), and supported by Questacon.

They were inspired in many ways, from: designing and running a Science Centre; conceptualizing and building interactive exhibits; developing and presenting educational science shows; how to run teacher training workshops and outreach programmes; techniques for evaluating programmes and exhibits; writing and presenting grant applications and proposals for funding; how to include people with disabilities in centre programmes; how to go about informal learning in general and developing programmes with a special focus on girls and women.

Fellows building interactive exhibits

They had work sessions at science centres in various locations in Australia such as the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Bendigo Discovery Centre in Bendigo, and the Early Start Discovery Centre and Science Centre and Planetarium in Wollongong. They also visited the CSIRO Discovery Centre at ANU and the Canberra Space Centre located on the grounds of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.  This provided them with exposure to the operation of science and discovery centres working under different organisational structures.  It also helped to establish networks with the international science centre and science communication community for further collaboration and engagement.

The fifteen fellows (15 drops as they came to be known) each built interactive exhibits which were on display for nearby schools at the Botswana High Commission offices to the amazement of DFAT! They also presented short science show snippets to the DFAT staff with some of the exhibits on display at the DFAT chambers. The awardees also produced splendid science show presentations at CPAS in the presence and under the critical eye of the trainers.

Each delegate had to develop an action plan on how they will implement their learnings back at their home centres and countries. The group completed the programme with great aspirations and determination to set up science centres in their respective countries and/or to implement new programmes and/or improve on existing activities.  The training ended with the fellows being awarded certificates of completion of the Science centre capacity-building training. Since their return, there’s already work being implemented by fellows at their respective science centres and countries like building exhibits, evaluating programs, running new programmes and a lot more. They were all inspired to inspire people back home!

Performing educational science shows they developed during the training