Science Enrichment

Science Enrichment has been at the heart of The Umkhumbane Schools’ Project programming since our founding. Our vision is to not only increase learners’ capacity to succeed in their science subjects, but also to provide them with opportunities for hands-on scientific exploration, STEM career exposure and guidance, and an increasing confidence in their capacity to succeed.

Key elements of our Science Enrichment programming include:

Workshops at the Science and Technology Education Centre, UKZN Westville Campus

Thanks to a programming partnership with the Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Agriculature, Engineering, & Science, The Umkhumbane Schools Project is able to provide hands-on science workshops and STEM Career Awareness Workshops to learners from all five of our partner schools at various times throughout the school year. Our annual schedule of worshops includes Grade 9 Subject Choice and Career Days, as well as science lectures and activities for learners in Grades 10 & 11 during National Science Week. These two workshop series alone allow us to bring approximately 400 learners to the university campus each year.

In addition to these regular features on our Science Enrichment calendar, we often have other opportunities to bring learners to the STEC for exciting and informative STEM programmes. In recent years these have included a Girls-In-Science series of workshops provided in partnership with STEC and PeaceCorps volunteer Chris Harris and an opportunity to attend a lectures by NTSF award winners.

Science4U Mobile Science Van

Each year the USP coordinates a schedule of visits to our schools by the Science4U Mobile Science van of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Science and Technology Education Centre. Under the very capable and engaging leadership of Dr Tanya Reinhardt, the Science4 U programme brings equipment, materials, and a teaching team to our schools to work with the regular classroom teachers in conducting the Physical Sciences practicals required by the Grade 10-12 syllabus.

Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

Each year since 2013, the USP has mentored a group of learners from our commnity of schools for participation in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists and Engineers, South Africa’s premier nation-wide science competition for high school learners. When the USP first arrived in Cato Manor, not a single learner from any of the Cato Manor secondary schools had ever participated in the Eskom Expo. We have changed that!

In the early part of each school year, we select an eager group of young scholars to be part of that year’s Expo team. For the next few months they work with us to define their own research or engineering project and to pursue it to completion for entry in the Regional Expo in August. We provide a team of dedicated mentors, materials, assistance with internet research, connections to local science labs and other research facilities, and a range of activities geared towards teaching scientific method. Following the Regional Expo, a group is selected by the Expo judges to go on to compete in the Expo International Science Fair in Johannesburg (Boksburg) in October. To date, our numbers at the Expo over these six years of participation are as follows:

2013-2018 Tally of Participants and Medals To Date

Regional Expo:
73 learners, 47 Medalists
International Expo:
27 learners, 13 Medalists

We are in the process of developing an Expo mentoring curriculum for use by others interested in making the Expo competition in into a transformational learning experience for learners, especially for learners from disadvantaged communities.

The Umkhumbane Schools Project Eskom Expo Mentoring programme for 2017

To view a video of Sihle Zondo, one of our 2015 International Science Fair participants being interviewed about his engineering project on designing a bright, low-cost light bulb, click on the following link: . Sihle was a Grade 12 learner at Bonela Secondary School at the time of the Expo, as is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at the Unveristy of KwaZulu-Natal.

Additional Science Enrichment Activities

In addition to these established features of our Science Enrichment programme each year, from time to time we are able to provide additional science renrichment programming as opportunities arise. Examples in recent years include our participation in the 2016 Girls of Tomorrow/Girls In Science programme at STEC (a PeaceCorps initiative) and our learners’ attendance at annual NTSF Award Winners’ lectures.

Click HERE to learn more about our Environmental Education programming.