Sasol Inzalo Foundation Mobile Science Lab officially handed over to HartRAO
SARAO News #01 2017
The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) celebrated an enormous milestone on 11 April 2017 when the official handover of the Mobile Science Lab from the Sasol Inzalo Foundation (SaIF) took place at the Observatory in Gauteng.
The event was led by Dr Meshack Khoza, board member of the SaIF and Dr Molapo Qhobela, CEO of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Other guests included Dr Mapitso Molefe, Director of the SaIF, Dr Beverley Damonse, Group Executive: Science Engagement and Corporate Relations at the NRF and HartRAO staff members.
Teboho Monareng, Business Manager of HartRAO, welcomed the guests. Dr Qhobela traced the history of HartRAO, initially as a NASA Deep Space Station and later as a the first Radio Astronomy Observatory in Africa, and introduced the crucial role its geodetic installations currently play in ensuring that our local GPS navigation systems remain accurate.
He also highlighted collaborations between the NRF and foundations such as the SaIF.
Dr Molefe provided background information on the work of the SaIF, its Mobile Science Lab initiative and other ways in which the foundation reaches out to learners in order to enhance their comprehension and grasp of subjects in the fields of science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
“We currently have other Mobile Science Labs serving schools in the Libode, Lusikisiki and Mount Frere and Cofimvaba District (Eastern Cape), Fezile Dabi District (Free State) and Northern Cape,” said Dr Molefe.
“We are rolling out these mobile science labs in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology, HartRAO and the NRF. This is part of our mandate and commitment towards building the capacity to teach and learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects in our schools,” she continued.
Dr Rufus Wesi of the SaIF added character and a wonderful atmosphere of partnership and camaraderie with an enthralling science show, using the equipment from the Mobile Lab. He eloquently demonstrated various aspects of science with enthusiasm and humour.
HartRAO’s Outreach Programme started out as a very small programme in the early to mid-1990s and expanded over the years to currently include two permanent full-time outreach staff.
More than 2000 learners visit the Observatory each year while further outreach, by going out to schools and by participating in science camps, are also undertaken. The programme reaches about 20 000 learners a year through the big science festivals held around the country during the year.
The Sasol Inzalo Foundation Mobile Lab will greatly increase HartRAO’s capacity to reach more learners, by taking observatory demonstrations out to schools. HartRAO will be able to provide an excellent service in terms of reaching learners and significantly increase the number of learners that can be introduced to STEM concepts.
Dr Meshack Khoza, Dr Beverley Damonse, Dr Molapo Qhobela and Dr Mapitso Molefe, in front of the Sasol Inzalo Foundation Mobile Science Lab.
HartRAO’s SaIF Mobile Science Lab with the 26-metre antenna in the background.
Last Updated on September 7, 2017