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Mobile science laboratory to bring science to life for North-West learners

On Thursday, 5 March 2020, the Sasol Foundation donated a mobile science laboratory to the North-West University (NWU) that will deliver practical science education to thousands of learners around the North West Province.

When fully utilised, this state-of-the-art mobile laboratory is able to serve up to 30 schools per year.

Various dignitaries attended the handover of the mobile science laboratory. They included Vusi Cwane, head of the Sasol Foundation, Dr Meshack Khosa, Sasol Foundation trustee, Doris Gaborone from the North West Department of Education, Prof Dan Kgwadi, NWU vice-chancellor, Prof Marilyn Setlalentoa deputy vice-chancellor for community engagement and Mafikeng Campus Operations, and Prof David Modise, acting executive dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

"Sasol is committed to continuing to play its part in the socioeconomic development of South Africa, particularly in the communities in which we operate," said Cwane.

He said the impact of the mobile science laboratories, which is one of the many key initiatives of the Sasol Foundation, has been positively evaluated by an independent monitoring and evaluation agency in 2019. This confirmed that innovation is a critical piece of the puzzle in addressing the underdevelopment of STEM capabilities in South Africa.

"To date, our partnership model has been working smoothly, with schools served by the facilities reporting significant improvement in the performance of learners in science-related subjects," said Gaborone.

"We have already seen encouraging outcomes in terms of science results and the competence of learners across our target areas. More importantly, we are seeing a growing interest in the sciences in general, as learners become excited when their minds are exposed to science in action."

Prof Dan Kgwadi said learners and students need to be taught to take care of treasures such as these mobile laboratories.

"The mobile laboratory will promote science, technology, engineering mathematics and innovation by engaging communities in the North West through different science awareness programmes.

"The mobile laboratory will also enable the NWU's Science Centre to expand its capabilities in teacher and learner curriculum support. By taking science experiments to schools more learners will be reached, especially those in remote corners of the province," said Prof Kgwadi.

What is a mobile science laboratory?

A mobile science laboratory is a custom-designed and well-equipped vehicle that is used to transport science apparatus and chemicals to schools in various parts of the country where schools lack the necessary apparatus for science. This allows for hands-on practical work with teachers and learners in their classrooms.