Mobile Science Labs – Science Rocks
“It’s Friday and we’re rocking it at Edendale today. It is science all the way…”
The Mobile Science Laboratory technicians from the Midlands Community College (MCC) set up a facebook page recently, within a month they had 220 followers, illustrating just how cool they have made science in the midlands!
The Mobile Science Laboratory visits 45 KZN Midlands schools that have no laboratory facilities, seven times a year, assisting Grade 10 to 12 learners with the practical component of the Physical Science Curriculum. An astonishing 6008 students benefit from this N3TC funded project and, of course, the science educators are able to constantly polish their skills too. The Mobile Lab began in 2002 to address the problems resulting from a shortage of equipment, resources and suitably qualified Physical Science educators in rural secondary schools and has been expanding ever since.
Thula Zuma, an ex-student of the MCC Maths and Science Recovery Programme, coordinates the team of six technicians. “In 2010 I spent the year focussed on Maths and Science, my Grade 12 marks went from 32% to 74%. I couldn’t afford to enrol at university to study Chemical Engineering so applied to be a technician for the Mobile Lab to save the fees. I have realised that I really love teaching and think I will do a teaching qualification too. I like watching the kid’s faces when they grasp an idea, you can see the relief in their eyes the moment they understand.”
Debby Evans, MCC Business Relations Manager, adds: “Thula shows great initiative. After being asked to judge exhibits at the local Shea O’Connor School’s Science Day, he had the idea start an Olympiad to challenge all the 45 project schools to a show off their Science skills. It has been a great success.”
Fetsi Letlala, Science Teacher at Shea O’Connor Combined comments “We are lucky, it is a helpful project for us educators who do not have enough science equipment. The learners benefit a lot because it is hands on.” Grade 11 student Vuyani Mtoto says “They are so helpful, without them our marks will be very poor.” Matric learner Vusi Hoyi adds “They are too cool! The experiments we do with them are amazing, making Physics a pretty exciting subject.”
The MCC Maths, Science and Technology Recovery Project caters for 60 grade 12 students who pay a very subsidised rate to spend a year living on the campus and upgrading their Maths and Science matric results. English, computer skills and intensive Career Guidance are integral parts of the programme too. “We help them with bursary applications, but even if they do not go to tertiary institutions, their new skills and confidence mean they are employable.” says Rebecca Wakeford, Project Manager of MCC.
There is no doubt that these young men are having a big impact on the futures of others in their communities and contributing to producing the engineers, technicians, medics and teachers which South Africa needs.