Soweto the home of South Africa’s first democratically elected President Nelson Mandela, is steeped in history, was the focus of attention for the week starting the 15th of July 2013. Three schools in Soweto accepted our invitation to participate in the outreach programme. The event was organised and coordinated by Charles Maseko who has made it is mission to inspire children in Soweto, using the grandeur of the night skies.
The programme kicked off in one of Soweto’s oldest suburbs, Dube where the first low cost housing was built for unprivileged communities. Moetapele Primary School is one of the oldest existing schools where 22 Grade four learners participated in the rocket project. The learners were enthusiastic and asked questions pertaining to both rockets and astronomy in general. Mrs Tabitha the Natural Science educator for Grade four commented on the interactive and engaging manner of the presentation. The propulsion of the rockets drew many cheers and sighs alike after lift off.
Mbuyisa Makhubu Primary School is historically placed across the Hector Peterson Memorial, which based on events of June 16th, 1976. Sixty three learners and their educator competed to launch the highest rockets. Charles Maseko explained to the learners how the rockets works. At the end of the end of activity, the girls attention to detail when creating their paper rockets ensured they won the overall launching competition.
On the 17th of July an Educator Workshop was held at the Meadowlands Public Library. Seven educators from three public schools attended the workshop. The workshop covered topics which is part of the Earth and Beyond curriculum. These topics ranged from creating a 3D model of the Earth to the searching for planets. Materials from the Universe in the Box were used at the workshop. Educators provided feedback and two educators were interviewed, regarding their perception of the workshop.
Thakhisa Primary School was the last school in the in the roll out of EUNAWE in Soweto. Due the low learner numbers per grade, all of the grades from grade 4 to 7 participated in the rocket project. Learners in grades six and seven discussed the mechanism of rockets and rocket launching, especially pop or air rockets. Whilst in grades five and four aspects of astronomy were linked to rocket launching.
Charles Maseko will continue to spearhead the EUNAWE campaign in Soweto, ensuring that both learners and educators have an opportunity to expand their astronomy knowledge.