The next generation of South African scientists and innovators

Mmaki Jantjies
Aug 12, 2018 · 3 min read

South African children from underprivileged township and rural areas, often lack an opportunity to learn about the vast science study areas available to them. Top ranked universities, niche science areas and city living, often seem like a far-fetched dream when battling socioeconomic challenges within such locations. These challenges also contribute to the stark lack of transformation in niche science areas, as children would only learn about related opportunities, once and if only they even make it into higher learning education.

In breaking down the stereotypical view that they cannot form part of these communities and one day lead ground-breaking innovations in the country, every year, we invite leading women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to give children from such backgrounds an insight into what STEM careers hold for them and what their careers entail. The initiative also aims to encourage aspirations towards STEM in higher education.

This year we also included founders of organizations to enable them to know what the world of entrepreneurship in STEM also entails. In ensuring that we captivate a younger cohort of participants , we invited children aged between 10 and 15 years of age even though various studies reflect the importance of this a much earlier age. Thanks to our sponsors such as the UWC Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation as well as the EMS Faculty Dean who see our vision and enable us to transport these children from various schools onto campus.

Among other speakers we had an intense session from Ms Naadiya Moosajee a civil engineer by profession and founder of Women Eng, talking about the role of engineering in everyday life and the latest trends of robotics within the engineering world.

Naadiya Moosajee on what engineers do

Ms Vuyolethu Dubese, an ecosystems manager from Thomson Reuters later captivated learners on data analytics and the intricate role that it plays in organizations across the world.

Vuyolethu Dubese and some of the high school learners

Following a global view of Data and Artificial Intelligence from Vuyo, Ms Robyn Farah founder of KATO technologies later provided an intensive workshop of problem solving, and identifying community problems which the learners faced and how they could use technology as leverage to solve their daily challenges through their own innovations.

Robyn Farah conducting a problem solving session

Dr Adriana Marais, a theoretical physicist by profession and also head of innovation at SAP also captivate the learners with Astro - science, explaining the science behind our recent lunar eclipse and what being part of the MARS ONE project entails. Following her talk, 19 year old Brittany shared her life journey of growing up in the townships and how she will commence her studies in space science in the USA in 2019.

Dr Adriana Marais and Brittany following their session

The seed of curiosity can only be cultivated in young South Africans through enabling environments. This is but one of the many ways which we aim to ensure a diverse human resources of future African scientists.

Team: Front row from left to right: Chizoba, Seeraj, Atoofah, Thoko, Siba, Yandisa, Lukhanyiso, Tebogo, Lukhona; Back row from left to right: Fanelesibonge, Simeon, Xolani (and Asa)
Mmaki Jantjies

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Mom| Academic | Ed-tech Researcher| loves myAfrica | Has a passion for #mobile learning #VR and AR #data ethics #womeninSTEM