‘Seek information and work hard’

Posted on February 15, 2019

Puleng Tsie is a young woman who is enthusiastic about science communication. She grew up in a town called Virginia in the Free State and made her way to Pretoria after matric, to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Zoology at the University of Pretoria.

After completing her BSc she enrolled for an honours degree in Environmental Sciences at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. On completion, she came across Sci-Enza, which is a science centre at UP. She began as an intern and worked her way up to managing the entire Sci-Enza space.

“What is fascinating about science communication is the ability to learn something different every day. I enjoy the broader view of science, I was never able to choose the science path that I wanted.

“At first I wanted to study chemical engineering or physiotherapy, but I ended up in the botany and zoology field. Working as a science communicator gives me the opportunity to talk to people from different backgrounds who share different views.

“Within Sci-Enza, we have science entertainment shows that can be themed. Sci-Enza offers the opportunity to make science accessible, using creative tools and making it relevant to diverse audiences. Creativity leads to problem solving and we want people to become problem solvers. We have puppet shows to make science fun, a chemistry puppet show where we teach children about science in simple terms.

“Another show involves talks about the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is one of the mega projects happening in the Karoo, Northern Cape. Sci-Enza has collaborated with SKA on numerous projects in the past. 

The world celebrated International Day for Women and Girls in Science on 11 February. Tsie says many girls face obstacles when entering the stream of science in high school. “It could be [lack of] support from home just to be at school. There are many socioeconomic issues against women and girls in science, including accessibility to good teaching materials and science labs,” said Tsie.

“Investing in a girl-child in science is more valuable in the long run, because when they make it in the science stream they thrive.”  

Tsie says she would like every UP faculty to get involved with Sci-Enza. One of the interesting projects they are working on is showcasing UP research, such as the hearing app (HearZA) that was invented at UP.

“My advice to young girls who want to get into the science field is that they must seek information and work hard. There are many career opportunities as far as science is concerned,” she said.

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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