26 May 2022 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Leonie Bolleurs
UFS South Campus Creative clubs Initiative
UFS staff members from the Social Responsibilities Projects, Patience Aba, Judith Lefa, Noluthando Zwane, Dr Angela Stott, and Queen Selema, with a group of learners from the Ikaelelo Senior Secondary School looking at the effect of wind on the evaporation rate of water. This is one of the science experiments used as exemplars to stimulate the learners to plan their own science expo projects.

“This class teaches us how things work, and it gives us many ideas.” These are the words of Bokamoso Mahlasi, a Grade 9 learner at Ikaelelo Senior Secondary School, who says he dreams of becoming a radiologist one day. 

He is part of a group of 100 Grade 9 learners from schools around Bloemfontein, who – once a week for two hours – have the opportunity to learn more about mathematics, science, coding and to prepare science expo projects. This is made possible through the Creative Clubs programme, an initiative of the Social Responsibility Projects on the University of the Free State (UFS) South Campus. 

An opportunity to expand horizons

Dr Angela Stott, Researcher and Teacher Educator in the Social Responsibilities Projects, believes that they are providing township learners, who tend not to have much access to extracurricular opportunities, the chance to expand their horizons, obtain problem-solving and reasoning skills, and increase their interest in mathematics, science, and coding through a range of extracurricular extension activities.

Dr Joleen Hamilton, initiator and coordinator of this programme, says, “The learners attending these sessions are achievers in the current school system. Teachers often don’t have time to give extra stimulation to higher-achieving learners. With Creative Clubs, we want to address that gap.”

She continues: “Besides creating an interest in mathematics, science, and coding, we also focus on building self-esteem and confidence. Our thinking is that if learners believe in themselves, they are more willing to take on challenges. Developing skills such as perseverance and reflection form part of our focus as well. With some of the activities we also give learners the opportunity to work as a team, preparing them for real-life situations where one often needs to work in a group setting. By developing the mentioned skills, we aim to empower learners to excel in different areas.”

The importance of mathematics in real life

During the Creative Clubs sessions, a series on the basics of doing a science expo project is presented to stimulate interest in this competition and to guide the learners in planning their own science expo projects. Dr Stott adds that they are also presenting a session on extracurricular mathematics activities. “This includes problem-solving tasks, brain teasers, and games. We emphasise the importance and use of mathematics in real life,” explains Dr Hamilton.

We also focus on building self-esteem and confidence. Our thinking is that if learners believe in themselves, they are more willing to take on challenges. – Dr Joleen Hamilton

Also in the pipeline is a planned outing to the Naval Hill Planetarium, as well as a session introducing coding, where learners will be playing the Boats and Tanks coding game, teaching them the basic coding commands. 

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