Postgraduate students participated in exhibition to encourage high school learners to study science. 

TWENTY-FIVE Wits postgraduate students who attended the Sasol Techno X career exhibition on August 13 – 17 in Sasolburg, Free State won “Best University” for having the most exciting and informative exhibits, and beat 10 other tertiary institutions in the process.

The group, which consisted of students from the schools of engineering, digital arts, chemistry and physics attended the exhibition organised to encourage learners from around the country to join the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The School of Chemistry’s WhizzBang group presented seven experiments but, according to masters in chemistry student, Nikiwe Khoza, the outright favourites among the learners were Dragon’s breath and Elephant’s toothpaste.

Dragon’s breath is done by dipping a ball of cotton wool in acid that would disappear when enflamed. Elephant’s toothpaste showed the learners the reaction of dishwashing liquid when the reaction was accelerated with potassium iodide.

“The learners enjoyed seeing experiments that were part of their syllabus. Their excitement really kept us going,” Khoza said.

“After interacting with some of the experiments, I heard one of the learners say, “I’m a scientist!”, with such conviction. It really made me feel good about inspiring a kid to be interested in science,” she added.

School liaison officer, Sershin Naicker, was the project manager of Wits at the exhibition. He told Wits Vuvuzela that the aim of Wits’ attendance was to get learners excited about STEM by making the exhibition interactive.

“The exhibition was extremely successful,” Naicker said. “The students were very enthusiastic and described and explained multiple experiments to the learners. The idea is to encourage the youth of this country to join STEM and remove the boring perception of science.

“We also want to promote Wits as one of the leading institutions to study STEM in Africa,” the 34 year-old added.

According to Sasol Techno X, the exhibition has become the largest STEM career guidance exhibition in the country and attracts 20 000 visitors from seven provinces. The exhibition is focused on promoting STEM to learners in grades 7-12 to encourage them to engage with a real world application of STEM in a way that creates interest and captures the imagination.

This was Wits’ second consecutive win at the exhibition. Naicker told Wits Vuvuzela that while the aim was to make STEM exciting for the kids, Wits winning the “Best university” category was an added bonus. “It’s nice friendly banter,” he said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Members from Whizzbang performed ‘magic’ at Sasol Techno X.   Photo: Onke Ngcuka