UKZN science week ‘awesome’ say local pupils

2011-06-30 00:00

A SCIENCE fair at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is enthralling pupils and showing them what they can do with science in terms of their careers.

The “Be a Scientist for a Week” programme is being held at both the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses from June 27 to July 1.

Pupils are exposed to varies disciplines, including biology, genetics and environmental hydrology.

They enjoyed their introduction to computer science and some even programmed robots while learning about computer coding.

“It’s awesome,” said Tracy Theron of Carter High.

Many of the pupils attended the programme because they are undecided about what to do after school.

Naadhira Mahomed, of Epworth High School, said the increased exposure will help her decide what to study at university.

The pupils found mathematics interesting, as they learnt about how equations are used in speeding cameras.

The time they spent with the biochemistry department was also exciting as they learnt about genetics, a field they had not studied before.

An Alexandra High pupil, Sanele Ntshangase, said he now has “a clear understanding of what to do” as a result of the programme.

The event has changed pupils’ perspectives about science and scientists.

Jean Jordaan, a Maritzburg College pupil, previously thought that all scientists are “mad people with crazy grey hair”, but he is now planning on pursuing a career in science.

Dr Naven Chetty, the assistant dean of recruitment at the Pietermaritzburg campus, said, “[This is] our way of giving people an idea of what we’re doing.”

Chetty stressed that only top achievers were invited to the programme.

The 30 participants are Grade 11 and 12 pupils who achieved over 80% in mathematics and science.

They were nominated by their institutions after the faculty of science and agriculture issued invitations to various Pietermaritzburg schools.

Chetty said it is important for pupils to get to know what different subjects are about.

This is the first year that the programme has been run on both the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses. Last year a pilot programme was run in Pietermaritzburg.

Chetty said it is hope to make the week an annual event, and increase the number of participants next year.

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