Play Africa launches ‘I am a scientist’ exhibition in Soweto to promote Stem learning through play
By Dieketseng Maleke (Photo credits: Play Africa)
IN AN effort to promote science, technology, engineering, and maths (Stem) learning to pupils from Soweto, Play Africa will launch a science exhibition at Ipelegeng Community Centre in Jabavu.
The exhibition is being held from May 17-21.
The “I am a scientist” travelling exhibition was designed to introduce children in Grades R – 3 to various fields of science through playful learning that evokes investigation.
Play Africa is a children’s museum based at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.
According to the museum, the exhibition will travel to disadvantaged schools across Gauteng through August 2021, encouraging at least 2500 learners to pursue coursework and careers in Stem. It also includes an online programme to introduce 5000 children to diverse Stem role models in live, interactive sessions.
Play Africa operations supervisor Futhi Mbongwe said he hoped the exhibition would inspire the South African scientists of tomorrow.
“We want every child to know that science can be fun and accessible. Our goal is to unlock pathways to new careers, broadening participation in Stem and showing every child she or he can become a scientist.”
When designing the exhibition, Play Africa collaborated with South African scientists. The exhibition has life-size scenes that are designed to encourage learners to see themselves in different science careers.
“They will be naturalists, tracking and learning about animals and plants in Kruger National Park. They will explore space science, renewable energy, and the impact of climate change in the Northern Cape. And they will learn about science all around them – the science of active play in urban green parks, the innovation of science in Soweto-based maker space, and the science of urban farming and food security,
“Learners will receive a free book full of safe science experiments to try using everyday household materials. We want children to see themselves as emerging scientists as soon as they enter the exhibition,” said Mbongwe.
She said the Play Africa museum wanted to encourage critical thinking and problem solving through play learning.
“The exhibition is an exciting, informal learning environment with materials that invite children to test, experiment, and explore.”
Play Africa CEO Gretchen Wilson-Prangley said: “We’ve designed this programme to show every child she or he has a right to science, science education, and science literacy. We want to unlock new possibilities for children traditionally excluded from, and under-represented in, Stem fields.”
Play Africa was able to host the “I am a scientist” programme after the museum received a grant from the science, technology, and manufacturing company based in St Paul in the US called 3M.
3M country leader South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa Naresh Sanjith said: “Our partnership with Play Africa on their ’I am a scientist’ programme represents another step towards advancing science, technology, engineering and maths [Stem] opportunities for children and students in Soweto and the greater Johannesburg. It also signifies the commitment we both share in fostering global citizenship and help improve lives around the world.”
According to the museum, “I am a scientist” also received additional support from Rand Merchant Bank and Constitution Hill.