A fascinating world of drones, 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence has opened up for the high school pupils and teachers at Get Ahead College in Komani (previously Queenstown) in the Eastern Cape.
This is thanks to the establishment of a 4iR (fourth industrial revolution) STREAM laboratory at their campus. This 21st Century science and technology centre is bringing the school’s Grade 8-12 pupils an exciting opportunity to develop their creative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aeronautics and Mathematics) education focuses on developing essential skills and knowledge by enabling pupils to enjoy hands-on experience with technologies that are changing our world.
The new laboratory is a project of non-profit organisation and STEM education specialist the Sakhikamva Foundation, and was sponsored by Software AG.
“Community and skills development form a big part of our commitment to transformation goals. This has led us to fund initiatives that put meaningful ideas into action, directly improve the wellbeing of our communities and set examples for the future,” Kholiwe Makhohliso, MD of Software AG South Africa says.
“We believe that access to 4iR skills is a necessity and no one should be left behind.”
Software AG has partnered with the Sakhikamva Foundation to establish innovation labs and 4iR classrooms in previously disadvantaged communities.
Sakhikamva has touched the lives of more than 130,000 children through its STREAM enrichment programmes, including connecting SA schools to science projects under way on the International Space Station.
When it comes to educating the youth for the 4iR, South Africa faces critical challenges. Many schools lack access to basic technology, teachers are not taught how to develop 4iR skills in the classroom, Internet access is costly and far from universal, and schools in rural and low-income communities remain disproportionately cut off from the resources required for 4iR teaching and learning.
Outgoing executive director of Get Ahead Schools, Mariette Visser, says: “Schools have to prepare students for the fast-changing world of work. 4iR is not in the future; it is here now.
“Get Ahead is fortunate to have makerspace rooms in both our primary schools where our students can tinker and develop design mind-sets in a playful manner.
“Now our college students will have the benefit of a 4iR STREAM laboratory which will expose them to robotics and coding for the first time.”
Vicki Du Preez, the newly appointed head, adds: “Teachers and pupils will be excited and intrigued with the 4iR laboratory, and in this year of Covid-19, this is exactly what they need to enjoy school again.”
Get Ahead’s STREAM laboratory is powered by the Gamma education, platform and includes tablets and drones as well as AI, robotics and app-making kits.
Sakhikamva Foundation founder, forensic scientist and pilot Fatima Jakoet says: “With the opening of this STREAM laboratory we are delighted to welcome Get Ahead College into our family where curiosity and wonder are prized.
“Teachers will be trained in STREAM philosophy and teaching methodologies, and learners will enter into a fascinating new world during their technology classes and through after-school activities.”