The Physics Emasondosondo


Outreach visits to High Schools in Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces

Gauteng: 15 Jul - 2 Aug, 2002
Western Cape: 6 Aug - 23 Aug, 2002
   Financed by NSF   and NRF   and supported by GPDE   and SAIP 

NSF - National Science Foundation - USA
NRF - National Research Foundation - SA
GPDE - Gauteng Provincial Department of Education - SA
SAIP - South African institute of Physics - SA


Scientists, educators and administrators have teamed up in a new pilot programme of physics outreach, aimed initially at disadvantaged high school learners in Gauteng and Western Cape provinces, but it is hoped the project will spread to other areas.. The project flows from the USA-NSF funded schools outreach program (QuarkNet) of Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, in which teachers from South Africa were sponsored to attend workshops in the USA. The intention is that the programme will become sustainable in the long term.  The pilot programme will focus on a mobile physics laboratory, accompanied by scientists and teachers and students equipped to run a physics program and provide teacher support. The physics program will contain visually exciting physics demonstrations and hands-on exploratorium activities targeted at high school learners. Informal sessions planned as teacher support will be aimed developing simple resources and providing training for physics demonstrations, and optimizing the use of the local facilities at each school. Informal sessions with the learners are also planned.

If this first year is successful, as we hope, it can act as a springboard to strengthen and expand the programme in future years, to include more schools and perhaps to include other provinces in South Africa.

Cynthia Malinga
Curriculum development
Julia A Thompson
Jeremy Dodd Nevis
Nevis Laboratories
Bill Willis
Nevis Laboratories
Dale Gundry
Education training
 Bill Metzler High School Teacher USA-visiting team
 Will Serber Graduate Student - Columbia University USA-visiting team
 Ian Tolfree Graduate Student - John Hopkins University USA-visiting team
 Amanda Weltman Graduate Student - Columbia University USA-visiting team
 Marques Franklin Undergraduate Student - Purdue University USA-visiting team
Mike Stanton
Education research
Simon Connell
SET marketing
Tony Voorveldt
Demonstration engineer
Case Rijsdijk
SET marketing
Jim Bradley

Scope and Dates

The plan is to reach out to schools that are most disadvantaged. There are of course many such schools, so in the pilot study, the subset of these that will be selected are those which have science teachers that are keen to co-operate with the program in order to optimize the impact of the program on disadvantaged schools. In the pilot study, there should also be a spread of schools. Cynthia Malinga from the Curriculum Development section of the Gauteng Education Department has selected the following fourteen schools with this in mind.
Aurora Girls High
"1764 Zici&Bendile Sts., Zola, Soweto; Private Bag X08, Kwa-Xuma, Soweto 1868"
Johannesburg South
011 930 3604
011 930 5935
Mr. HS Siluma
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Emshukantambo Secondary
"Zone 1, 1574 Pimville, Pimville, Soweto; P.O. Box 366, Pimville 1808"
011 933 2223
011 933 2223
Mr TS Nemakhavhani
Lehlabile Secondary
"8942 Mamelodi Ext. 2, Mamelodi East, Rethabile; P.O. Box 79175, Rethabile 0122"
Tshwane South
012 801 9220
Mr. RM Manganye
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Letsibogo Secondary
"607 Kekana St. Zone 3, Meadowlands, Soweto; P.O. Box 53, Meadowlands 1852"
Johannesburg West
011 936 9672
011 936 9672
Mrs. SE Kondowe
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Masithwalisane Secondary
"17370 Monomane Cresc., Vosloorus; P.O. Box 12184, Rusloo, Vosloorus 1475"
East Rand West
011 863 1911
011 863 1911
Ms. D Mahlangu
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Minerva Secondary
"No. 165 12th Ave., Corner London St., Alexandra; P.O. Box 299, Bergvlei 2012"
011 882 1734
011 882 1734
Ms. LT Mabungu
Mohloli Secondary
"8000 Zwane St., Sharpeville, Johannesburg; P.O. Box 57, Sharpeville 1928"
Sedibeng East
016 451 2204
Mr. MC Tsoaela
Public Ordinary Secondary School
N.N. Ndebele (Nimrod)
"Nala St., Duduza, Nigel; P.O. Box 1501, Nigel 1490"
011 810 4951
Mr. ZG Somakahle
Poelano Secondary
"197 Ward Rd., Corner Bordea&Buffalo Rds., Evaton; P.O. Box 5153, Mafatsana 1981"
Sedibeng West
016 593 0190
Mr. NB Motaung
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Reitumetse Secondary
"1669 Zone L, Soshanguve; Private Bag X79, Soshanguve 0152"
Tshwane North
012 799 4483
012 799 4483
Mr. AJ Makgato
Public Ordinary Secondary School
Schaumburg Combined
"Hekpoort-Brits Rd., Hekpoort; P.O. Box 4, Hekpoort 2800"
012 207 1484
Mr SK Tlhapane
Sizwe Secondary
"Corner Hatting&Kennis Sts., Elandsfontein; P.O. Box 127, Tembisa 1628"
East Rand West
011 392 5597
Mrs. MD Mathabathe
Weilers Farm Secondary
"EI Weiner Farm, Vereeniging; P.O. Box 1870, Grasmere 1829"
Mr GH Palmer
Wozanibone Interm Farm School 
"Bronkhorstspruit; P.O. Box 1271, Bronkhorstspruit 1020 "
Gauteng North
013 932 4641
013 932 5623
Mr. B Maluleka
Intermediate Farm School
Dates for school visits in the pilot project are :
Gauteng: 15 Jul - 1 Aug, 2002, Western Cape: 6 Aug - 23 Aug, 2002

The Traveling Teams

There are two teams staffing the vehicles - one for the Gauteng portion of the programme, and one for the Western Cape. The U.S. participation will include five people, including a scientist, educators and students, with Columbia (Dr. Jeremy Dodd) coordinating the Gauteng team and Pittsburgh (Prof. Julia Thompson) coordinating the team for the Western Cape. The NRF has provided funding to allow Dr Mike Stanton and a group of his Science Education Students  to run an evaluation project on the Gatueng leg of the programme. This group will do evaluation field work at the schools. There are also students and Staff from the Universities of Witwatersrand and UNISA participating in the visits. The participation of the University students is managed under the auspices of the South African Institute of Physics, which finds that science awareness activities are becoming increasingly important. The participation of students is important, as they reflect the demography of South Africa and are participating enthusiastically in the SET system. They therefore represent role models to the learners, they can establish a rapport with the learners and they evidence the science opportunities in South Africa.

High School Visits

The plan is to focus on the high school level i.e. Grades 10-12, with demonstrations and experiments that both support and extend the high school physics curriculum. The experiments are defined to be context sensitive to South Africa, to make maximum connection with the experience of the learners.
  1. A Physics Show with theatrical demonstrations.
  1. A mini-Exploratorium, with exciting physics demonstrations that high school learners (and perhaps a more extended audience such as community members) can explore, with van staff in attendance to operate/discuss exhibits, and with explanatory panels.
  1. A hands-on practical session in which small groups of high school learners can gain real experience of some experiments relevant to their curriculum. At present we are thinking of three possible experiments: one mechanics, one optics (based on a simple laser pointer), one electrical circuits (simple current electricity, using everyday devices to represent resistors, parallel and series circuits). The aim is to leave several sets of this equipment at the schools for future use. Support materials for these experiments that may aid teachers in using the equipment in their classrooms will be developed.
    1. Envisaged Experiments
      1. From mechanics - Using string and springs

      2. Does force add like a vector or a scalar ?
        Word Document
    1. From Electricity - Using Simple Circuits, done in groups
      1. Electrical Circuits: Resistors, measurement, Parallel vs Series
    2. From "High Energy Physics" - using simple equipment like a slinky, rope, a laser pointer
      1. Scattering, Light, Particles, Waves, and Structure : What do they have in common?
  1. An informal teacher session, in which science teachers can talk with visiting staff - this might be to help with some existing experimental equipment. For example, in Gauteng province, each senior school has the senior Edutrade pack of equipment for demonstration work. A teacher might like for us to work together on some of the demonstrations, to resolve problems, etc.
  1. An informal learner session, where learners have a question-and-answer session with a visiting scientist/student.
Experiments (Show and Exploratorium)
These have been chosen by selecting experiments that are simultaneously didactic, theatrical, hands on and adapted for local conditions.

First Show

1) Van de Graaff
Van de Graaff
· Start with arcs
· Bring up students to put hand on
· If no-one show with elbow
· Explain how it all works - use props to explain electrostatics
· Hair - why does it work
· Beanie, popcorn and any other props

2) Magdeburg Hemispheres
Magdeburg Hemispheres
· Demonstrators separate
· Ask for volunteers
· Pump out air and disconnect and let them try pull apart
· Volunteers again (anyone stronger???)
· Explain how it works

3) Pendula and Tuning Forks
Coupled Pendula
· Show a pendulum and ask what properties affect it's frequency
· Demo - with different weights and different lengths
· Two weights from rods, pendulum
· Set one going, come back to it in a little
· Do singing rod/tuning fork
· Come back to it
· Describe resonance "same natural frequency"

Tuning Forks
· Use volunteers
· Explain what sound is
· Hit the tuning fork
· Explain how the tuning fork produces sound
· Resonance - natural frequency
· "What determines the frequency of the sound?"
· Transfer demo
· Beats - explanation

4) Lasers and Fog
Parabolic Mirrors / Lasers and Fog Machine
· Explanation of parallel beams all passing through a single point
· Demo

Second Show
1) Jacob's Ladder
Jacob's Ladder
· Switch it on and let it run
· Explain it
· Why does the arc go up

2) Copper Tube and Jumping Ring
Metal Blades/Copper Tube Experiment
· Show solid blade falling between magnet poles
· Show "toothed" blade falling between poles - explain
· Then do copper tube
· Let them do it - 2 people
· Ask differences between the discs and the magnets
· Drop them both outside
· Drop discs in tube and magnets outside
· Drop magnets in tube and discs outside
· Ask why it happens
· Changing magnetic fields explanation

Jumping Ring
· Demo making sure that you start from nothing turn it up slowly
· Levitating
· Popping off
· Ask "what happened?"  "Any idea of how to test?"
· Explain
· Ask students to come up and touch the ring to feel the heat
· Try it with broken ring

3) Liquid Nitrogen
Liquid Nitrogen
· Start with balloon - explain states of matter
· Banana hammer (nail and wood)
· Rubber ball
· Outside and foam

1) Angular Momentum and Bicycle Wheel
Angular Momentum
· Demo of spinning on a stool
· Linear momentum (mass and velocity)
· Angular momentum question "what quantities are important?"
· String demo - movement from a straight line to a circle
· Ask again, "what quantities are involved?"
· Explanation of the arms

Spinning Bicycle Wheel
· Demo of wheel without spinning
· Ask question "what do you think will happen?"
· Demo of spinning wheel
· Stool
· Conservation of angular momentum
· Resistance to change causes rotation about another axis

2) UV Light and Polarizers
UV Light and Florescence
· Demo of UV light vs. white light
· Colors - wavelength
· Non-visible wavelengths - UV rays
· Absorption and emission

Crossed Polarizers
· Demo  -  look at the sky with the polarizers
· Spin the polarizer "tell me what you see"
· Hold the polarizer to the window?  ask questions again
· Do it again
· Explanation
· Picket fence description

3) Generator
· Use the large generator to show components
· Show the lightbulb demo
· How a generator works
· Motor demo "generator is a motor in reverse"
· Conservation of energy
· Generator to a capacitor
· G to C, capacitor to lightbulb
· Maybe use simple motor (battery + copper coil) from Tony

4) Sour Power and AC/DC
Sour Power and Solar Power
· What is this?  A lemon!!!!!!! Wrong, it's a cell.
· Take two different ones, light led, prove it's a cell
· Different metals, one donates electrons one gives
· Practical examples - This is how your cells work
· Talk through solar cell - show effect of covering the cell

· DC demo, show one is on constantly the other off
· Switch plugs, show other one is on and previous one is off
· Turn AC on, demo, ask why both are on
· Practical examples - wall outlets are AC, cell are DC

5) Chladni Plates
Chladni Plates
· Vibrational normal modes one surface

6) Magnets
· First discovery in rocks.  Used for navigation
· Iron filings
· Load stone
· Horse Magnet
· Pair



It has been decided for the pilot project to hire two ventures and one trailer, as disadvantaged schools may not be accessible by a large van. The trailers will be fitted out so that they can double as work benches. The experiments will be designed to run on batteries or from a generator , as there is no electricity at some of the schools. If mains power is available, it can of course be used. The experiments will packaged in rapid deployment units, which are ruggedised for transport over rural roads.

For the next year, we hope to purchase a ruggedised mobile didactic unit from Pert Industries. A design has been customised from their base model, and funding is being sought.

The equipment for the Travelling Laboratory will mostly be assembled in the U.S., after consultation and advice from South African colleagues. It will remain in SA to develop the infrastructure for the programme.The U.S. members of the teams will be able to spend several weeks working with the equipment, debugging it, and familiarising themselves with the demonstrations before the equipment is flown to Johannesburg towards the end of June. However, some of the equipment will be developed in South Africa.We would probably want to test all of the demonstrations again once they arrive in South Africa to make sure that they have not been damaged in transit.

Follow-up, Monitoring and Evaluation

Dr Mike Stanton of the Wits Physics Education research team will devise the monitoring and evaluation instruments. He will deploy students as field workers and analysts to assess the programme as a postgraduate project. The Radmaste group will act as additional independent assessors of the programme and its monitoring. This will be done continuously, so that problems can be identified and corrected online. Finally, a report will be generated. This will allow the next years programme to be guided by this pilot programme. This information will also be fedback to the schools. It is also hoped that we can build upon the initial contacts made through this programme, and continue to promote exchanges of teachers, learners and scientists between the U.S. and South Africa in the years to come. As the project progresses, it is hoped that it can be marketed to attract private sector partners to participate in the financial support of the project.

Another  high school teacher from Gauteng is currently visiting the US during June/July this year, similar to the visits of 2001. This teacher is from Soweto and will help develop the written material associated with the experiments (worksheets, posters etc.)

Programme home and Champion
Discussions are in progress with various stakeholders and organizations in the education sector regarding an appropriate home base for the programme. Current thinking is that the programme may become linked to a science exploratorium / museum. As funding develops, a full-time champion of the programme will become necessary. The champion will administer the project and liaise with the various partners to leveraging appropriate input from each stakeholder.


Training courses for the demonstrators and training manuals will be developed. Posters for support of the mobile exploratorium, the curriculum support activities will also be developed.