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 learners
  • 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.
Cynthia Malinga
Curriculum development
SciBono Science Centre
Julia A Thompson
Jeremy Dodd Nevis
Nevis Laboratories
Bill Willis
Nevis Laboratories
Dale Gundry
Education training
 Bill Metzler High School Teacher USA-visiting team
 Sampa Bhadra

USA-visiting team

 Lynda Cockin

USA-visiting team

 Samaiyah Farid

USA-visiting team

 Eve Klein

USA-visiting team

 John Martin

USA-visiting team

 Genevieve Shattow

USA-visiting team

 Joe Thurakal

USA-visiting team

 Theresa Villarson

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. 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.

The Traveling Teams

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.

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.


A Physics Show with theatrical demonstrations.
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.
A hands-on practical session in which small groups of high school learners can gain real experience of some experiments relevant to their curriculum. 
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.
An informal 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.
Experiments (Show and Exploratorium)

These are available here

Logistics 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 FEST.

Follow-up, 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 project.


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 be developed.

Development in the 2003 program resulting from 2002 program (see 2002 programme here)
  1. 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.
  2. Development 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.
  3. Local funding. Substantial funding from the GPEDU was realised this year. Funding from FEST for 2003 is still awaited
  4. Co-ordinator 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.
  5. Teacher linkage. A teacher development programme has been initieted in the 2003 programme.
  6. Expansion. This will be achieved through bringing in more HEI's via the SAIP.
  7. Publicity Materials and Demonstration Media. These are being further developed in the 2003 phase
  8. Linkage 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 programme.

  Financed by NSF    and GPDE    and supported by the SAIP 

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