UWC-SLCA – an outreach project of the School of Science and Mathematics Education (SSME) at the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Faculty of Education – will launch four new UWC Science Learning Centres in February 2020 to support teaching and learning in the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay areas.
“South Africa is faced with many challenges, and one of our main hopes of finding ways to overcome them is through science. For that, we need more - and better-equipped - scientists. And for that, we need a culture of science in our schools that helps develop and inspire those scientists-to-be,” says Acting Director of the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Science Learning Centres for Africa programme, Professor Monde Mbekwa.
“Until recently, school science learners were compelled to memorise scientific facts rather than experiment with substances which they can touch, feel and measure. A science learning centre or laboratory provides learners with opportunities to inquire, to explore, find information and thus create their own knowledge of science concepts and the scientific method.”
On 11 February 2020, science learning centres will be opened at:
- The Crags Primary School, Plettenberg Bay ( 10:00 - 11:00)
- Concordia High School, Knysna (11 February 2020, 12:30 - 13:30)
On 12 February 2020, labs will be launched at:
- Knysna Secondary School, Knysna (09:30 - 10:30)
- Groot Brak Primary School, Groot Brakrivier (11:45 - 12:45)
The science centres – equipped with smartboards, microscopes and more – are constructed in partnership with the Garden Cities Archway Foundation and the Western Cape Education Department to give support and training to practising science educators, to get learners involved in science activities, and to allow both learners and educators to work and experiment in a safe environment.
“Science is a practical subject that requires learners to construct meaningful knowledge about the world,” adds Professor Vuyokazi Nomlomo, Dean of the Faculty of Education at UWC. “Scientific literacy involves cognitive processes that are stimulated by participating in various activities or tasks such as observations, measurements, conducting investigations, and many others. The science learning centres will provide a conducive space to carry out these cognitive processes – and facilitate meaningful learning and the acquisition of scientific literacy.”
The science learning centres offer many benefits. For example:
- They can help experienced and inexperienced teachers develop their confidence, knowledge and practical skills in teaching science;
- They develop learners’ understanding of scientific concepts and the application of science; and,
- Most importantly, they help grow learner enthusiasm for Science subjects, and for choosing Science careers.
The centres provide an ideal opportunity to keep up with and explore new technology, and could help address the shortage of maths and science skills in South Africa.