Innovative youth can change SA’s character
Photo caption: Minister Naledi Pandor with the winners of the SKA-Meerkat competition
Learners should be innovative so they can change the character of South Africa, said Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor. The Minister encouraged learners who won the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)-MeerKat Schools Competition to study Maths and Science.
Speaking at the awards ceremony held in Pretoria recently, Minister Pandor told the winners that the country needed more scientists. “We want to invest through you,” she added.
Most exciting project
Learners in Grades 4 to 11 from various schools throughout the country were given an opportunity to enter a competition based on the SKA project. A total of 200 000 competition forms were distributed to various schools, as well as science and community centres.
The department received over 36 000 entries in the primary and high school categories.
The aim of the competition was to increase awareness of one of the most exciting engineering and research projects ever undertaken. Lap- tops, printers, digital cameras and organized tours to their nearest astronomy observatory were up for grabs.
Learners who won the competition were excited about pursuing careers that required them to study Maths and Science.
Karabo Melato, 14, a Grade 7 learner at Boitirelo Primary School, said when he completed matric he wanted to become a technician in the Defence Force. “I want to further my studies and operate big machines in the Defence Force,” he said.
A winner in Grade 8, Seth Sekhobo, 14, believes that Maths and Science will help him realise his dream of becoming a pilot. “I am interested in planes and I see myself training to become a pilot,” he said.
Exploring the galaxies
South Africa and its partner countries won the bid to host most of the telescope – 70 per cent of the telescope will be built in Africa and 30 per cent in Australia.
The core of the telescope will be constructed in the Karoo region of the Northern Cape, with outlying telescope stations throughout South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia and Zambia. The magnitude and sensitivity of the SKA telescope will allow scientists to explore the origins of the first galaxies, stars and planets and the evolution of the universe. It will be able to collect weak cosmic radio signals from the edges of the universe from a time before the first stars and galaxies formed.
For more information, call the Department of Science and Technology: 012 843 6300