New Germany woman invents science kit

2016-10-25 06:00
 Photo: Nosipho Mkhize Bathabile Mpofu with her ChemStart science kit.

Photo: Nosipho Mkhize Bathabile Mpofu with her ChemStart science kit.

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SCIENCE boffin Bathabile Mpofu (36), of Pinetown has invented a physical science kit, ChemStart, containing 52 experiments that 
 can be used by high-school pupils at home. 
Mpofu was born in Nongoma, but grew up in Ulundi and
describes her childhood as happy. 
“When I was young, my dad bought an old car and I used to drive in it with him. I would complain if he was overtaken by another car. One day he was teaching my mom how to drive and she drove so slowly I said that ants must also be overtaking us. I had a very happy childhood with my parents.”
 Mpofu attended Impumelelo High in Mahlabathini and later did her Bachelor of Science (BSc) in chemistry and cell biology as majors at UKZN, focusing on chemistry at BSc honours level. 

She also completed a business management diploma at UCT and is currently doing her MBA at UCT.
 “ChemStart is a physical science kit for use by high-school pupils at home. There is one experiment for every week of the year. The concepts covered are Caps [Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements] aligned and can be used by pupils from Grade 8 to Grade 12. 
“The kit explains the concepts, provides instruction on how to conduct the experiments, explains the science behind the reactions observed and explains the application of the science in real life.

“It makes science fun and attractive and not the usual intimidating subject. ChemStart unleashes a scientist in every­ child who uses it. Every child should make a career decision after they have gone through the kit.”
 
She said the invention was inspired by realising how unprepared she was for science tertiary education.
“I struggled all the way to the end. I fortunately became a technician at the UKZN and could see first-hand students from a similar background struggling with this, and I knew I had to assist somehow.

“This is why last year I started visiting schools demonstrating science experiments, but that was not enough, because I was still the one doing experiments. ChemStart was developed to give pupils a chance to do this themselves. A shocking statistic from equal education.org.za claims that out of 21 000 ordinary schools, only about 1 200 have stocked labs. 
You can imagine then how many pupils are in need of this box at high-school level.”

She said she sees herself in five year time supplying kits for physics, life sciences kits and for countries outside SA. 

“I also want to encourage girls to study science so they can create things that we need.

“What they learn at school must not just be information or data, but knowledge, and they must know how this knowledge is applied. This way they can use that knowledge to create new solutions and they can start their own company providing a service or product based on that knowledge.”

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