PRAESA, in partnership with UCT, held a Science Book Event at Molo Mhlaba School in Khayelitsha’s Harare Square on Wednesday, 13 June 2018.

We had 300 copies of Iqhosha Eliyimfihlelo KaGeorge Kuzungezo Lwendalo (George’s Secret Key to the Universe), written by Lucy and Stephen Hawking and translated into isiXhosa, to hand out to grade 6 and 7 students as well as their science teachers and for their school libraries. Even the little learners from Molo Mhlaba joined in and, with the energy they brought with them, enjoyed all the older children’s activities. We invited the local primary schools as it was just as mid-year exams were finishing. We set up six activities on a rotational basis and provided juice, sandwiches and fruit.

To enjoy ourselves and build up excitement while we waited for our key speakers, there were performances, introductions and welcome songs.

Nadia Lubowski from PRAESA opened the day with a summary of the story, welcomed all the learners and teachers, and introduced the activities of the day.

Xolisa Guzula, NGAP Lecturer and Doctoral Student at the School of Education, University of Cape Town, who translated the book into isiXhosa, alsoopened with a welcome and read an excerpt from the book. Brian Ramadiro, Researcher and Deputy Director of the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development at  the University of Fort Hare, also  joined us for the event.

The main purpose of the event was to bring literacy (through the form of stories) and learning together, showing both the children and the teachers that reading stories is a great way to access and gain information in a fun and interesting way. All the activities were related to the various scientific concepts in the book that could be explored further to extend the children’s knowledge of the universe. The children divided themselves into groups and each went to an activity station where they spent about 20 minutes playing with and exploring the science concepts in a creative and fun way. Each group was able to complete the circuit of six activities in rotation before the afternoon was over.

The first activity was Xolisa reading her favourite part from the book while the group of children listened. The second was a science experiment display set up by UCT’s science and physics department. This was definitely a highlight for the children as there were rockets, water bombs, floating balls and various other displays of science “magic”. The third was a set of astronaut activities where children competed and then recorded their results, in groups, to see who could jump up and down the most times in 30 seconds, or balance on one leg for the longest, among other physical activities. The fourth activity was a marshmallow and tooth pick constellation assembly, where children could either copy star constellations or imagine and create their own. The fifth activity involved lining up the planets in their correct order using colour-coded balloons. The sixth was a ‘magic carpet’ storytelling, scribing and acting activity. All of these activities challenged the children (and adults!) to imagine and problem solve incorporating principles of science, as well as providing fun, teamwork, storytelling and play.

The desired outcome of the day was to inspire curiosity and interest in children and teachers alike and introduce fun and storytelling into science learning.

Seven schools, including the host school, Molo Mhlaba, took part as well as children who happened to walk past, teachers, principals and even a few parents. It was a rather raucous event, but fun and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was a successful event filled with excitement and enthusiasm for science and every child received a copy of Iqhosha Eliyimfihlelo KaGeorge Kuzungezo Lwendalo to take home.

We look forward to future exciting storytelling events!

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