Snakes, worms and puppets to showcase the fun side of science

Posted on July 02, 2008

“Due to popular demand, the Science-is-Fun programme was extended to four days. It is vital to expose kids from an early age to the fascinations of science that reveal themselves in our day to day lives,” says Irene van Nugteren, National Youth Service (NYS) volunteer at Sci-Enza.

Van Nugteren, a BSc (Hons) Biotechnology graduate from the University of Pretoria asserts that previous successes with the holiday programme have resulted in the University making means to accommodate more learners. “We had a cheetah and frogs in April. The children loved it so much, we were spurred to continue ‘’edutaining’ them and making room for more children as the demand grew,” says van Nugteren.

BSc (Hons) Chemistry graduate, Lebogang Radise also reinforces the need for such a programme. “It is vital for young children to be educated in a way that will propel them to make a positive impact on the community. Learning about snakes from experts will help them to dispel myths and grasp fundamentals that may save their lives and help our environment,” continues Radise, a volunteer at Sci-Enza.

“It is critical for the future of our country that young children from all walks of life be exposed to the fascination and job satisfaction that a career in Science can provide; as a scientist of almost thirty years’ experience, coming to work every day still remains a real pleasure”, says Prof. Pat Eriksson, Chair of the School of Physical Sciences at the University.

Sci-Enza is the oldest interactive Science Centre in South Africa and is located at the Technical Services Building, on the University of Pretoria’s main campus.

Brief History of Sci-Enza:
Sci-Enza started in 1977 as an open laboratory in the old Physics building through the efforts of Prof. Lötz Strauss, a professor in the Department of Physics. One of the key characteristics of this “open laboratory” was that it presented students with the rare opportunity to interactively “play” with scientific apparatus within an informal context.

However, the Exploratorium, as it was then called, relocated to other premises on campus and became a trendy place regularly visited by the general public, school learners and students.
To add to this attraction, the Camera Obscura, built on the roof of the Natural Sciences building in 1990, spellbound a score of local and international dignitaries at the University of Pretoria’s main campus at its inauguration.

When the San Francisco Exploratorium trademarked their name, the Exploratorium was renamed the Discovery Centre @TUKS. In 2001 the Discovery Centre relocated to larger premises in the Technical Services building and became a truly integrated Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) centre.
Since 2005 the centre has thrived under a new name, Sci-Enza. It is significant to mention that the name is a combination of the word “science” and the isiZulu word “sebenza”, meaning “work” or “to do”.

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