This is a guest post from Digital Classroom, which is the Vodacom portal for teachers around the country, telling teachers about the wonderful holiday opportunities that exist for this September break. We read their excellent article on the Vodacom site and asked if we could use it for a guest post. Thank you to Digital Classroom
18 September 2013 – The short but welcome spring school holidays are upon us, a time to recharge the batteries and prepare for the challenges of the last term and final exams of the year.
There are a number of activities and holiday schools and programmes geared towards keeping the younger grades occupied and interested in the sciences, as well as helping the matrics prepare for the last hurdle of their school careers.
International Science Fair Regional Expo
For starters, the International Science Fair Regional Expo takes place from 25 to 28 September at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
It is the final step in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, the only science fair for schoolchildren in South Africa, where they can exhibit their own scientific investigations. The fair is the result of regional expos held in each province through the year, the winners of which participate. Eskom Expo includes students, teachers, professional organisations and educational bodies and governments from all over Southern Africa.
In taking part, schoolchildren increase their awareness of the wonders of science and add to their knowledge and entrepreneurial possibilities, while broadening their scientific horizons, say the organisers.
Students can enter their own individual projects, or work with one other student on a two-person group project. There is a range of categories – 25 in all – from agricultural sciences through engineering: chemical, metallurgical and mining, microbiology and biochemistry, to social and psychological sciences, some of which are grade specific. But selection for the South African International Science Fair is restricted to grades six to 12.
Participants are judged and awarded gold, silver and bronze medals, and there are plenty of awards made by special interest groups. The Eskom Awards, for example, are made in:
- Best development project;
- Best energy project;
- Best female project;
- International trip to a science fair or science forum;
- A science lab for a rural primary and secondary school; and,
- Best energy efficiency project (energy and cost saving covered in all categories).
And some finalists are selected to participate in international science fairs in other countries; however, participation in international science fairs is strictly for selected individual participants and invited Eskom Expo officials.
Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, in downtown Joburg, is holding a Wondrous Water week, from 21 to 29 September. “We celebrate the blue gold that is one of the most precious and scarce resources on the planet,” says the centre. “Although less than 1 percent of all water on the planet is fresh, it is an absolute necessity to sustain all life. Join us as we take you on a journey to discover more about our liquid planet.”
The programme will include interactive science experiments, starting at 10am every day. Participants will build their own steam boat and learn how steam can be used as a source of energy; build their own water rockets and see who shoots their rocket the highest. They will learn that hydrogen used in fuel cells can be used as a major source of clean energy in future, what fuel cell technology is, how it works, and how it may develop in the future – and then produce hydrogen from water to run a small hydrogen fuel cell car.
At 1pm each day, there will be an Aqua Spectacle Science Show in which the science of water will be explored further. Participants will learn more about bubbles, what holds them together and why insects can walk on water. Some of the workshops have a minimal entrance fee while others are free and are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Google in Education
Down in Cape Town, the first Google in Education South Africa Summit takes place at Parklands College on 26 and 27 September, hosted by SchoolNet SA and Google EDU Summit Team in South Africa. Targeting teachers and school administrators, it’s a high-intensity event that focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in school and higher education. The programme features Google certified teachers, Google Apps for Education certified trainers, practising administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google education teams.
William Florance from Google is the keynote speaker, and each session will have anywhere from six to 13 breakout workshops from which to choose. They will range from “Getting Started” to “Getting Geeky”, and each session will have workshops geared towards technical deployment and administrators using Google Apps for Education.
Still in Cape Town, the famed Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront runs a young biologist course for Grade 10s who are passionate about the marine environment and are committed to making a change. It takes place from 23 to 29 September. The children will spend four days at the aquarium, and then three days at a camp. Once they have finished the programme, they must commit to at least 30 volunteer hours at the aquarium.
In the midst of the course, on 21 September, the aquarium will host a clean-up of Strandfontein Beach from 10am to noon, as part of International Coastal Clean-up Day, which was established in 1986 and has since grown into a global initiative. Everyone is invited to volunteer.
The clean-up is the world’s largest volunteer effort to clean up waterways and the ocean. Volunteers get data cards and each item collected is recorded on these cards. Last year, 561 633 volunteers from across the globe collected 4 603 956 kilos of rubbish. The top 10 items found included paper bags at number 10, plastic drinking straws at number seven, plastic shopping bags at number four, and cigarettes and cigarette filters at number one.
The Cape Town Science Centre also has activities during the holiday. From 21 to 30 September, there will be daily hands-on workshops, among them Edutraden design and make, Robotics, 3D animation and Scratch workshops, alongside the daily science shows, camera obscura tours and general fun.
In the Living Maths 3D Animation workshop, children will learn to use Blender, an open source 3D animation software programme. They will learn how computer generated graphics are linked to maths. And in the Scratch Programming workshop, participants will learn the basics of programming with Scratch, an award-winning animated programming platform. Scratch, a project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, lets users programme their own interactive stories, games and animations, and share their creations online.
The centre also runs Lego WeDo Robotics clubs, where teens are taught to build and programme Lego Mindstorms robots and prepare for competitions.
And finally, there is Spring School Exam Revision for matrics with Mindset. The school is well-placed between trial and final exams, giving pupils the help they need.
Spring School runs from 23 to 27 September on DSTV channel 319 and features live and pre-recorded exam revision lessons. Participants are able to work through past exam papers with Mindset’s expert teachers or interact with them at learnxtra on Facebook and Twitter. As always, free revision notes can also be downloaded for each topic.
The classes run from 9am to 6pm, and feature videos and notes. They cover everything from maths, maths literacy and accountancy, to the sciences, the humanities, business studies and economics. A detailed programme of what is on when, isavailable.
Previous exam papers are also available from the Department of Basic Education for extra revision.