Scientists soar at SMS

FUMANE MASHEANE

The St Michael’s team obtained a third position nationally at the annual science debating competition held by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA).
The topics, based on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), required out-of-the-box thinking and loads of research.
Ashlee Bell (Grade 11), Boitumelo Mtsatse (Grade 11), Fumane Masheane (Grade 10), Omolemo Malinga(Grade 10) and Kgomotso Alberts (Grade 11) were selected for the team. This formidable team won the SAASTA Provincial round, ensuring their place at the National Competition that took place on 9 October 2021.
The journey started with the girls attending a SAASTA workshop where they learnt new skills and were briefed on how the competition would work this year as it was held online for the first time.
After the workshop they were given the topic, Gene Editing, for the provincial competition.
The girls immediately embarked on a mission to immerse themselves in research and preparation for the competition. These involved long afternoons on Google in the computer room and long evenings in
Mrs Marais’ classroom, preparing and perfecting their speeches. Mrs Marais as the overseeing teacher and coach was a great help, providing the girls with support, assistance with research and even blankets on cold evenings.
St Michael’s Life Science teacher, Mrs Melanie Schoeman, made invaluable contributions to the team’s understanding of gene editing and played an important role in the success of the team.
The girls talked about the benefits and the disadvantages of the topic at hand, engaging with it from different perspectives and delving deep into it. The hard work clearly paid off as the girls won theProvincials and landed a spot at the National competition.
The National online competition took place on Saturday, 9 October. The team and the irreplaceable Head of Research Assistance, Boitshepo Mogapi (Grade 10) started preparing for the new topic: The Importance of Science as a Response to Pandemics in South Africa.
The girls committed to the experience by being at school every day during the holiday from Tuesday until the Friday before the competition. Apart from doing research and preparing speeches, they also interviewed some highly educated professionals. Interviews were conducted with a general surgeon with BSc degrees in Physiology and Microbiology, Dr Craig Lacey; virologist, Dr BJ Erasmus and pathologist, Moleboheng Sejosingoe, who has a diploma in Biomedical Technology.
A lot of hard work and collaboration with Mrs Schoeman and Trey Monyane Tekateka formed part of the build-up to the actual competition where the girls obtained third position in the country.
A celebratory lunch followed the end of the competition, wrapping up a truly enriching and exhilarating experience that the girls will always remember.