Rhodes Hosts Inaugural Science Open Day

History was made at Rhodes last week when the Faculties of Science and Pharmacy hosted an open day event in partnership with South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) and South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAATSA). Aimed at cultivating and growing excitement and interest in the Science and Mathematics subjects amongst Grade 9 learners so they can choose them as Matric subjects and as career options, the event was attended by over 250 learners from nine (9) difference schools in and around Grahamstown. The schools included Khutliso Daniels, Nombulelo, T.E.M Mrwetyana, Mary Waters, Archie Mbolekwa, Victoria Girls, Ntaba Maria, Oatlands Preparatory and Graeme College.

A full morning’s programme saw the learners being welcomed to the Open Day by Joyce Sewry, Deputy Dean for the Science Faculty where she also spoke about the importance of studying science and mathematics. She also spoke to the learners about fact that the country’s economy depended on a workforce that is comfortable with numbers and technology.

The event brought together 18 different university departments to host an exciting array of activities for the pupils to enjoy. The programme included Environmental Science, Zoology and Entomology, Statistics, Geology, Ichthyology and Fisheries, Mathematics, Botany and Pharmacy (among others). 

Ronen Fogel from Biotechnology ran a 3D printing workshop; Philip Machanick revealed the link from hip hop to Computer Science; Rui Krause shared the many wonders of Chemistry in demonstration stations on display in the Chem building foyer; John Mack introduced pupils to laser light in nanotechnology and led a tour of RU’s world-renowned Centre for Nanotechnology Innovation, and so much more.

There were 20 different activities in total, and participants got to experience a fun-filled joyride of the best in science and technology. If we imagine that RU, just for one morning, became the ultimate sci-tech wonderland – then Open Day delivered in granting 250 young enthusiasts a trip they are sure to remember for a long time yet.

Some of the activities that had the students mesmerised were the Music-AMP in the Bio Science foyer – where students learned to create cool instrumentals in a tube-whacking workshop. Professor Sunitha Srinivas and her post graduates’ Health Promotion also gave a talk in the Pharmacology, Anatomy and Physiology lab – a reminder that even when incorporating fun and games as part of learning, it is still crucial to provide important (health and wellbeing) information as the base of what young people should know.

Srinivas, along with two of her post-graduate students, Mr. Theodore Duxbury and Ms. Praise Marara, addressed Grade 9 learners about how health promotion can and should be made part of our daily living – in our homes, at schools and in the workplace. They touched on the main diseases burdening Eastern Cape’s population – communicable and non-communicable diseases – with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS, TB, hypertension and diabetes, among others.

Simplifying and understanding the modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases: alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and smoking were the major focus of this interactive health promotion exercise. Srinivas highlighted the importance of different groups of people working together, in order to achieve the kinds of outcomes we want to see in the country when we talk of our national healthcare system and the quality of life for all citizens.

“No person is an island, we are all supposed to do our part and work towards a greater good for the community, especially focussed on the next generation”. Here she also stressed the idea of different parts of society working with, instead of for their communities. She praised the development of community engaged research and encouraged young researchers to take full ownership of their work. “We are a little but an important drop in the ocean”, she commented.

RU’s Open Day for National Science Week is brought to us by the Department of Science and Technology, and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB).

Big thanks go to both major conglomerates for their continued support in the development of science and technology in our schools.

Source:  Communications and Advancement

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