The Physics Emasondosondo
Outreach visits to High Schools
23 Jul -
1 Sept 2004
Scientists, educators, administrators
and post graduate students have teamed up in an exciting programme of physics
outreach, aimed at disadvantaged high school learners. 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 programme is based around
a mobile physics laboratory, accompanied by scientists, teachers and students
equipped to run a varied physics program and provide teacher support. The
physics program contains visually exciting physics demonstrations, hands-on
exploratorium activities and also team based project experiments, all targeted
at high school learners. Additional sessions planned as teacher support
are aimed at developing simple resources and providing training for physics
demonstrations, and optimizing the use of the local facilities at each
school. There are also informal sessions where the learners interact with
the young higher degree students. The STYLE science club program is being
launced at each visited school. The project is well on its way to becoming
sustainable. It has been named the Science Emasondosondo. The project derives
strong participation and leadership from the Quarknet program. It is administered
from the Gauteng Education Department and housed at the Newtown Science
Centre. All higher degree institutions are partners in the program, via
the South African Institute of Physics
(SAIP). Currently, it is operated from the Schonland Research Institute of Nuclear
Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.
This is the third year of the project. The first two years (2002, 2003)
visited about 3% of the Gauteng schools. You can see a photo-essays of
the 2002, 2003 programmes
- To participate in developing the culture
of science and technology.
- To develop outreach programmes to disadvantaged
- To attract significantly large numbers
of learners to the science and technology area.
- To support the existing educators in
the development of these learners.
- To design a program based on a mobile
physics laboratory that is appropriate, dynamic, sustainable, involves
all stakeholders and produces measurable outputs.
Scope and Dates
The plan is to reach out to schools
that are most disadvantaged. There are of course many such schools. 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. There is also 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. The preliminary timetable appears below.
There are teams staffing the vehicles
and the Emasondosondo trailer. The U.S. participation will include five
people, including a scientist, educators and students, lead by Dr. Jeremy
Dodd from Columbia. Dr Mike Stanton and a group of his Science Education
Students run the evaluation project to critically asses 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.
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.
Physics Show with theatrical demonstrations.
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.
practical session in which small groups of high school learners can
gain real experience of some experiments relevant to their curriculum.
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.
learner session, where learners have a question-and-answer session
with a visiting scientist/student.
Style, The Science
and technology for Young Learners science clubs will be founded in the schools.
(Show and Exploratorium)
and the mobile laboratory unit
During the on-site schools-visit period,
we hire two vetures, to transport the Emasondosondo team. There is also
a mobile science laboratory, which is fitted out with all facilities necessary
to run the program in the event the schools do not have the necessary infrastructure.
The experiments are designed to run on batteries or from a generator. If
mains power is available, it can of course be used. The experiments are packaged
in rapid deployment units, which are ruggedised for transport over rural
roads. PERT Industiries
assisted with the design and construction of our mobile laboratory unit..
It is ruggedised, and customised for SA conditions. It has been funded jointly
by the NSF in the USA, the Gauteng Educational Department and funds from
Monitoring and Evaluation
Dr Mike Stanton
of the Wits Physics Education research team has devised the monitoring
and evaluation instruments. For the 2003 program, the Emasondosondo will
be evaluated as the PhD project of Mr Sam Ramaila from the Hermanus Maghnetic
Observatory. 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. Reports will be generated
based on metrics devised in the study and as a result of the research into
the Emasondosondo program. This will allow the next years programme to be
continually evaluated and improved. 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
High school teachers and Education Department
Officers from Gauteng will visit the US during June this year to work on
media material associated with the Emasondosondo program. Training courses for the
demonstrators and training manuals will be developed. Posters for support
of the mobile exploratorium, the curriculum support activities will also
Development in the 2003 program resulting from 2002 program (see
2002 programme here)
- A dedicated
mobile laboratory has been built by Pert Industries and stocked by
Tony Voorveldt, Eric Rood and Trevor Hollander (Wits). The 2002 programme
used borrowed equipment and rented vehicles.
of the programme staffing. The programme relies on Post-graduate students
during for the outreach part of the programme. This year the extent of local
post-graduate student invovlement has increased. A new feature is that
trained teachers can access the facility throught the year.
funding. Substantial funding from the GPEDU was realised this year.
Funding from FEST for 2003 is still awaited
and Home Base. The Newtown Science Exploratorium will become the home
base of the project. Currently it operates from Wits University. It is
hoped to be able to appoint a co-ordinator when funds become available.
linkage. A teacher development programme has been initieted in the 2003
This will be achieved through bringing in more HEI's via the SAIP.
Materials and Demonstration Media. These are being further developed
in the 2003 phase
with the NECSA School Clubs initiative. The Physics Emasondosondo is
launcing the Science Club
initiative developed by Mr K Govender of NECSA. This will be an important
ongoing contact with the learners, and will be a longer-term impact of our
Financed by NSF
and supported by the SAIP
NSF - National Science Foundation
GPDE - Gauteng Provincial Department of Education -
SAIP - South African institute of Physics - SA