The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre has kicked off a series of enrichment camps for girls in Grades 10, 11 and 12 who are considering careers in mathematics, physical science, geography and accounting, steering them back on the path to success after their schooling was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sci-Bono is a strong supporter and champion of the department of science and innovation’s Science Engagement Strategy, which seeks to demystify and popularise science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation by driving awareness and communicating the benefits to society of cultivating excellence in these fields.
Between March 26 and 1 April, the centre hosted 300 matric learners from across Gauteng for the first of its Girl Learner Advancement Camps, in partnership with the Gauteng department of education (GDE). The learners – who, despite attending no- fee-paying schools with limited resources, are determined to excel academically – are receiving on-site tutoring by some of the province’s top teachers and university lecturers in this initiative to get learning back on track.
The venue – including its Science Career Centre and its various exhibition spaces – was abuzz with activity during the first week of lessons, with the in-person teaching and learning enhanced by smart technology for optimal results.
The Girl Learner Advancement Camps seek to empower high school girls who have shown an interest in, and aptitude for, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and other subjects to improve their results. A partnership with City Lodge enabled the learners to be accommodated close to Sci-Bono while being transported to the centre daily to benefit from intensive tutoring to fast-track their academic progress.
Senior manager for teacher support at Sci-Bono,Makgethang Malindi said these camps are aimed at helping learners in Gauteng school to fill those gaps created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Even though these girls are among the top learners in the province, they were inevitably affected by the content gaps that were exposed by the rotation of classes and schooling disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
During the Girl Learner Advancement Camps at Sci-Bono, the girls were advised about the career options available to them. They also had the opportunity to explore the Fourth Industrial Revolution exhibition and others at the science centre and to experience a live science experiment show.
The training included a metacognition component to enhance the way in which the girls learn and to improve the outcomes of their own learning process. They were assessed before and after the tutoring to monitor their progress.
Nokulunga Penelope Mahlangu, a Grade 12 learner at Zithobeni Secondary School in Bronkhorstspruit, said she has her eye on either studying corporate law or hydrogeology.
“I love geology and the idea of being the Earth’s doctor,” she says.
Mahlangu has relished the enrichment camp experience, from the hospitality at the hotel to the learning, seeing and doing.
“I’ve been enjoying gaining information, experiencing different teachers and learners, and making new friends. The best thing is the lessons we’re getting – they make your mind literally grow more. You want to keep on learning and learning, and grasping as much knowledge as you can from the teachers and the surroundings.”
For her part, Nkosingiphile Ncube from Geluksdal Secondary School in Ekurhuleni, who is intrigued by the world of geography and nature, says the experience has been “mind-blowing”.
“This camp has been nothing but great. The most important things I’ll take home with me are not the 1 000 photos I take every minute I can – because wow, this place is so beautiful! It’s not the shirt I got from Sci-Bono on the first day. The most important thing I’ll take home is discipline. I have had the chance to be in the same space with prestigious and successful beings who are just like me: a student who wants to make it big in the future.
“With discipline, my goals are achievable. I’ve had the chance to learn about a lot of stuff in a short space of time. This camp really makes learning much, much more interesting and it has exposed me to so much content. I am motivated to keep on working hard and achieving my goals. I am grateful for the experience,” enthuses Ncube.
The second enrichment camp at Sci-Bono will be hosted again during the June/July school holidays. It will accommodate 300 Grade 11 girls striving to develop their skills and learning methods through 21st-century teaching and learning tools, and will take a similar format to the Grade 12 workshop. A camp for Grade 10s is also on the cards for the centre.