Science centres to brew future teachers

Pretoria –Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says science centres are important as they stimulate the imagination of the youth to help them visualise a future that they want.

The Minister said this when she officially opened a R1 million auditorium at the Cape Town Science Centre on Tuesday.

The auditorium, built by SAP – a software development company – will ensure the sustainability of the science centre by generating revenue for renting space to outside organisations.

Speaking to journalists after the launch, the Minster said science centres were significant and that her ambition is that all the wards across the country have at least one centre.

“Science centres are very important. Obviously this one is in Cape Town; we have 35 others throughout the country.

“We wish we could have them in every community in South Africa because they are the space where young people have the opportunity to be hands-on with science, to become familiar with the diversity that is science and then to become intrigued and interested because science really thrives on curiosity,” she said.

The opening of the auditorium comes at a time Minister Pandor is set to go on a massive public engagement campaign to mark National Science Week, which is aimed at getting the youth and the general members of the public interested in science and technology.

The public engagement campaign will include, amongst many other initiatives, having universities being opened up to the public around the country to showcase science, technology and innovation.

“Essentially National Science Week is a massive public engagement programme to introduce science to our communities, to get parents enthused about science, to get teachers in science programmes in the various science centres in the country to open up our universities to the members of the public. So it is really to get South Africa talking science,” she said.

The Minister said the auditorium at the Cape Town Science Centre would play a huge role in ensuring that the centre remains financially sustainable while offering its services to students.

“We are opening an auditorium that has been built with the generous support of SAP.

“The science centre is the collaboration between ourselves as the Department of Science and Technology and the private sector and we are really thrilled at the fact that what the auditorium will do is help us open up the science centre to more people.

“It is always difficult for science centres to continue to exist because of not receiving huge amounts of funding so to have an auditorium like this, supported by the private sector, it is going to be a very, very significant boost for the science centre.”

The Minister said science centres play a key role in creating a science and technology culture.

Science, innovation and technology is an important aspect for economic growth and improving the lives of people as it remains a hub for new technology.

It also helps to improve the quality of life and help many countries find solutions through technology.

Africa and the rest of the world have been able to manage disease outbreaks through scientific research, the Minister said.

She said for this to happen, today’s generation of children should be exposed to the science and technology to stimulate their mind and influence their mind-set from an early age.

“So if you can prick the imagination of a child and actually get them curious, interested, and excited and involve them overtime in touching in a practical way science experiments, those who are involved in science, you develop the technologist of the future.

“But if it remains a mystery to them, you will always have a problem as it has been for many years in South Africa, people believe it is a difficulty area, it doesn’t really belong to me, it is far too inaccessible, then you don’t at an early age get their imagination developed into practical engagements.”