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Girls learn basics of practical science

About 150 young girls were introduced to electronics and the basics of practical science paving the way for young women in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) during an intensive space preparation workshop.

The workshop was held at Airport Industria on Youth Day. Thursday 16 June saw girls from several different schools in Cape Town come together to learn a new skill. Carla De Klerk, the Space Programme manager, says the workshop hosted by the Medo Space programme has been designed to have a significant impact at a school level and ultimately in the business and government sectors.

“The hope to inspire young women to pursue maths and science subjects in order to ultimately consider science, technology, engineering and maths as a career,” De Klerk says.

She explains that this decade-long programme addresses the skills shortage in South Africa relating to Stem which will make up 80% of future jobs in the country which is moving forward into the fourth industrial revolution.

De Klerk says on the day of the workshop on Thursday 16 June, the girls using home grown South African technology to build small, programmable rovers which were coded by the girls themselves.

The girls were then able to take their rovers home and are now able to plug them into a smart phone, PC or laptop and connect them to an app and continue coding them at will.

“By teaching the girls advanced Stem skills, Medo Space brings them even closer to being able to contribute to the satellite payload,” De Klerk says.

The best of the best in the programme will eventually help in designing the payload for Africa’s first ever privately owned satellite launching scheduled for early in 2017.

Meanwhile the youth day celebration was attended and addressed by keynote speaker Adriana Marais who has qualified in the top 100 people selected to participate in the Mars One expedition.

Marais left the girls even more inspired, if not a little awed, at the prospect that if she goes to Mars, it is to never return to earth, but to create a new frontier for the human race.

De Klerk says the expedition will send four astronauts to Mars every four years to establish permanent residence, starting in 2024.

“Adriana spoke to and interacted with the girls showing them a video too of the Mars One project that stated ‘If we look up to another planet and know that human beings live there, how could we not know we are possible of anything?’,” she says.

The programme will run throughout the year and will be open to learners from any school in the Western Cape.

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