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‘Scientists for a week’ pupils with certificates of
attendance awarded by Professor Bala Pillay,
Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of
Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) recently held its fun, informative and interactive Be a Scientist for a Week programme aimed at Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils.

Youngsters from across KwaZulu-Natal who attended the one-week programme on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses during the July school holidays, were given the opportunity to meet with staff and students, view facilities, work in the laboratories, enquire about career opportunities and participate in practicals and field trips.

The participants spent informative and interactive sessions with representatives from the five Schools in the College.

The School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences was represented by Dr Tanja Reinhardt whose mining games and rock collection were a Geology discipline hit, while the School of Chemistry and Physics never failed to amaze with their exciting demonstrations facilitated by Mr Ajay Bissessur and Mr Kelvin Mpofu.

The School of Life Sciences input included exciting tours and demonstrations led by the various teams, including the Biotechnology cluster, Microscopy and Microanalysis Unit, and Cellular and Biodiversity/Evolutionary Biology unit.

The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science was without doubt exceptional. Professor Delia North fascinated the learners with the statistics behind the numbers game as did Mr Aslam Safla with programming of the Lego Mindstorm robots.  Dr Sudan Hansraj, Dr Raushan Quadir and Professor Holly Gaff involved pupils in various problem solving techniques.

MSc student from the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), Ms Precious Sikhosana, had pupils exploring and replicating the solar system. They were given the opportunity to showcase their imagination and creativity.

Participants underwent a career assessment by College counsellors, Ms Prashna Singh and Ms Phili Khumalo, after which they got career guidance and application information.

Ms Veena Naidoo of the eThekwini Municipality: Human Settlements, Engineering, Transport Authority Cluster and Trading division, provided insight into the various eThekwini bursaries available to young folk attending UKZN. Participants then watched the eThekwini video: Life of An Engineer which encourages pupils to pursue a career in Engineering.

At the end of the week, Dean of Teaching and Learning at the College, Professor Bala Pillay, addressed parents and pupils and awarded certificates.

Mukundi Mmbara from Hillcrest High School said the  programme had been very informative and enjoyable while Lubna Muhammad from Durban Girls Secondary and Jasveer Pillay of Glenwood High School agreed the programme allowed them to gain more information on the various career options available in Sciences, Engineering and in Agriculture.

Durban High School pupil Samkelo Ntetha said: ‘It was a great opportunity – the programme advanced my knowledge in the field of science.’