National Science Week Event - Shapo

August 07, 2018 6:00 AM News

Molemole Municipality Mayor Cde Edward Paya

On Saturday the 4th of August Shapo Primary School held the event to celebrate the National Science Week and the Centenary of our late freedom fighters Tata "Nelson Mandela" and Mama "Albertina Sisulu".

National Science Week (NSW), is an annual event aiming to exhibit and communicate awareness in science. It is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is a countrywide celebration of science involving various stakeholders and/or role players conducting science-based activities during the week.

Activities are organized in all 52-district municipalities and over 400 sites. The primary objectives of the event is promoting interest in STEM among younger generation, encouraging scientific and technological creativity among learners and inculcating a sense of pride in their talent, providing exploratory experiences, encouraging creative thinking and promoting psychomotor skills among learners through self-designed models or simple apparatus, encouraging a problem solving approach and developing appropriate technologies, especially for under-developed areas, as well as integrating and applying scientific ideas in daily life situations; and popularizing science and technology among masses, including creating awareness regarding their impact on socio-economic and sustainable development of the country.

The event was organized by our very own young and beautiful Valentine Raseputuka Saasa. The event was attended by Molemole Mayor Cde Edward Paya, Councillor, Cde Moni Malema, Royal house, Department of Science and Technology representative Mr Livhuwani Masevhe. These people have influence in public participation of the people and also in influencing policy decisions of the community and country at large. General public were participating in our NSW discussion.

Valentine Saasa giving a speech

We took the time to chat to Valentine about the event, herself and what this means to her a woman in science. Valentine was born at Botlokwa, Mangata on the 22-12-1990. She attended her Primary at Shapo School, I believe may be this is one of the reasons she chose to host the event at Shapo and Secondary at Letheba where she matriculated in 2008. Ms. Valentine Saasa obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in 2011, followed by honours degree in Biochemistry in 2012 at the University of Limpopo, where she specialized in medicinal plants extraction for diabetes mellitus management. She obtained her Biochemistry Master's degree (Cum Laude) in 2016 at the University of Johannesburg and CSIR. The Master's project aimed at developing a technology that will help diabetic patients check their glucose levels without pricking themselves with needles. She is currently enrolled for PhD (Biochemistry) at the University of Pretoria and CSIR. Her PhD research focuses on screening different Nano-materials for their potential use in non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such diabetes mellitus and cancer. She is currently selected by NRF/SAASTA as South African young science communicator and she is sponsored to study online science communication with the University of Stellenbosch.

Ms Valentine wishes to replace the current diagnosis and monitoring of blood glucose for diabetic patients which involves the use of blood tests that can accidentally cause other infectious diseases, especially in South Africa where HIV is a prevalent blood-borne illness. Furthermore, she is more interested in making sure patients monitor their disease with a cost-effective and pain-free device, which requires only breath.

Ms Valentine has published Journals, a book chapter, conference proceedings and presented her work in the area of Nano-Technogy for development of sensors for diseases detection. Ms Valentine was a finalist of CSIR/MSM best masters award. She was awarded "woman in Science programme" by the British council and ASSAF for outstanding effort in supporting woman in science communication and offered a trip to the United Kingdom for early career development training. She was selected by CSIR as "youth who put CSIR on the map 2017" and was interviewed in CSIR media and several radio stations (Moletji FM, Turf FM, Thobela FM, SAFM, Emalahleni FM, Jacaranda FM) for her PhD innovative research. Ms Valentine recently was awarded DST-Women in Science Awards for being the best doctoral women in South Africa.

She is passionate about science communication. She has established and founded a non-profit organization which is called Capricorn Educational Resource Centre. The aim of the organization is to popularize science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) as attractive, relevant and accessible to learners in rural areas and to popularising STEM to the broader public so that we can have a society which critically engages with key aspects of science and appreciate the science endeavours.

The reason she chose to host the event at Botlokwa is because she realized that the National Science Week was never celebrated in Botlokwa since its implementation by Department of Science and Technology in 2009. We also came to a realization that most school are starting to abandon the science stream as they feel like most learners do not want to choose the science field as they say they are difficult. During our NSW we also realised that most school only have at least 20 learners who are in science filed which includes both grade 10 to grade 11. Development of country is mostly influenced by Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEM). We feel like we are moving backwards as the community by abandoning STEM. So, we as Capricorn Educational Resource Centre want to instil interest in learners and general public so that they can appreciate the value of science in life. And also participate and consider STEM as their choice of career.

As a black woman in Science, she feels like she needs to spread the word of Science especially to these young learners and tell them there are lots of opportunities out there waiting for them. She doesn't want to enjoy the privileges alone or with few people, she wants everyone to benefit from this freedom and free education.

Learners attending the event

"There are lots of opportunities especially in this era whereby the government is trying to balance the gender qualities amongst men and women. So they need to stand on their feet and seek opportunities, they are there especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Once opportunity is presented to you, work double your male counterpart, believe me you, the universe recognizes and rewards women who are working hard in this field which is previously considered as male-careers." Valentine said when asked what advice she can give to other young people.

The event was definitely a success with speeches by Molemole Mayor Cde Edward Paya, Councillor, Cde Moni Malema, Royal house, Department of Science and Technology representative Mr Livhuwani Masevhe. Molemole Mayor Cde Edward Paya also emphasized the importance of education and science in his speech and also paid tribute to our Tata "Nelson Mandela" and Mama "Albertina Sisulu".

"Firstly let me acknowledge God because it's through him to say the event was beyond successful. We can confidently say the event served the purpose we wanted it to serve as we also got recognition from the Department of Education which is major stakeholder for schools. They were excited both the Capricorn District and Sekgosese Circuit and we had discussion for partnership. The school principals and teachers were very excited for their learners. Learners were also excited and we made sure that they participate more than us as we also wanted to get the picture of how knowledgeable are they so that we cater their needs. I can proudly say we have future scientist, engineers, and innovators in Botlokwa as the learners were informed more about the fourth industrialization which the language is mostly known to high level scientist and policy makers. We had science expo whereby learners identify their community challenges and come up with scientific solution so that we can check if they know what to be a scientist or engineers entail. We saw lots of talent and innovation from coming with solution electricity, water, and transportation to developing software for science learners to communicate with their mentors. We were really impressed we just need to continue nurturing the talent and giving them more support." This are the words of Valentine when asked if she thinks the event served its purpose.

Valentine also said she feels that the mandate of NRF-SAASTA, DST and Capricorn Educational Resource Centre which is to have the society which critically engages with key aspects of science and appreciate the science endeavors was fulfilled.

As Botlokwa Online we also want to thank Valentine and her team for the invite to the event, our team had a lot fun and learned a lot.