Science Fair Gains Momentum

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By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK Talent is in abundance in Namibia, evident during the Regional Schools Science Fair held recently at the Habitat Development Centre. City schools from the Khomasdal, and Katutura areas sent the ten best projects selected from their internal science fairs to represent them in the regional finals. The importance of such an event is entrenched in the country’s efforts to try and attain the set goals of Vision 2030. The centre is uniquely built with mostly recycled material such as used tyres, scrap metal and stone, a theme that students applied to their projects as most were made from scrap and recycled materials. The event held annually by the Namibian Mathematics and Science Teachers Association had over 240 participants registered in 19 categories and it was the duty of a panel of 34 judges to adjudicate a tightly contested event. Individuals from NamWater, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the University of Namibia, including teachers, made up the panel of judges that had the task of looking at the quality, the material used, the scientific value and innovation among other things. On the morning of the event excitement filled the exhibition halls of the centre as young scientists waited anxiously for the judges to begin their work. Variety was what the organizers had in mind and the young scientists were up to the task because of all the exhibits on display not one had been copied. Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Water Engineering, Human Sciences, Communication, Electricity, Computer Science, Agriculture Science, Marine Science, Medical Science, Astronomy, Environmental Science. Eco-Tourism, Architecture, Geology, Technology and Innovation were categories merely set to classify, but not limit the amount of ingenuity on exhibition. Students used all sorts of materials ranging from empty plastic bottles, cardboard, strings, cooking ingredients, silver foil, plant leaves and seeds. The exhibition was colourful as the projects added value to the widely used and easily available materials. A major effort was placed on issues that are of interest to the country at large with learners focusing on health, personal hygiene, cause of dental cavities, skin cancer, the composition of blood cells, the eyes, the heart as well as causes and prevention of the HIV/AIDS virus. On display were also bridge models, planet constellation models, and in a world of energy the learners went all out on alternative energy sources as well as methods. Several models of hydro-electricity generators, electricity from photosynthesis, and a hydrogen-based car among many other things, were eye-catching. Two teachers at the event, Gotthardt Seibeb, a recently qualified teacher as well as a certain Quitasol, a teacher for twenty years, both shared the same sentiments believing that encouraging and setting structures in all schools to facilitate student participation would add tremendous value to their theoretical knowledge. One of the judges, Walt Meltzer from the Department of Water Affairs, who was a judge last year, complimented the quality of projects saying it had greatly improved from the previous year. Summing up, most teachers remarked they felt that the event was of great importance especially on the part of learners, as they would put to practice a lot of skills such as their analytical skills, the ability to explain projects in a logical manner and the vital experience obtained from participating with their peers. The recipients of silver and gold medals in the regional competition will now qualify for the national science fair.