THE SOUTH AFRICA AGENCY FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT (SAASTA), in collaboration with the Harmony Mine Group, honoured top science learners from across the country during the September holidays. The SAASTA debaters, along with Astroquiz and Olympiad achievers in Life Science, Physical Science and Natural Science from all over South Africa, attended the event that took place at the CSIR’s International Convention Centre in Pretoria.
Ashlee Bell, Veronica Eliades, Phemelo Radikeledi, Kgosatsana Mabalane and Jessica Chuang represented the Free State at the SAASTA National Debating Competition, having won the provincial round in August.
The five girls, accompanied by Mrs Mathilda Marais, spent five days in Pretoria exploring new ways of helping the world resolve climate change issues and having heated discussions on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They were fortunate to socialise and interact on an intellectual level with young scientists from different disciplines.
The debaters attended talks by pilots from Aviation South Africa who explained the requirements for being admitted to a flying school as well as the perks of a career as a pilot. They also had the opportunity to visit the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to learn more about nanotechnology and its role in climate change. Living Maths presented a spectacular workshop and kept the learners engaged by doing various maths-related activities as well as a quiz played on KaHoot! In the evening the girls heard about Climate Change and Renewable Energy and attended a presentation by space scientists.
On Tuesday the venue buzzed with future scientists ready to take on the debate. St Michael’s gave it their all and enjoyed the debate very much. They gained a lot of knowledge from the debate and participated in exploring new ideas during their mini-imbizo sessions with other learners.
Heritage Day was celebrated by each cultural group. Learners danced traditional dances after describing their heritage and different traditional lifestyles. Groups presented the traditional Sesotho and Xhosa dances, and also the ever-popular ‘sokkie’. The Zimbabwean learners also presented a short song from their country.
The students visited the SA Mint, where they learnt about coin making. Hensoldt, a German company that that specialises in surveillance protection and sensory systems, demonstrated the use of drones to protect citizens and wildlife in South Africa
The five SAASTA ladies enjoyed the trip tremendously and gained new insight on topics such as climate change and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In Greta Thunberg’s wise words: ‘We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.’