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3 August, 2007

Young Western Cape scientists reach for the stars

Bomi Cholidizo, a learner at the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT), Khayelitsha, Nombeko Ngubeni, who teaches at Percy Mdala High School, Knysna, and Dineo Grove, a learner at the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology, before their departure for the 'Hands-on Universe' conference in Bavaria on 3 August 2007.

Two young scientists from Western Cape schools will jet off on today (Friday, 3 August 2007), to explore aspects of the universe at an international scientific forum in Bavaria, Germany, next week.

Dineo Grove and Bomi Cholidizo, both 17, are learners at the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Constantia, and the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha, respectively.

Nombeko Ngubeni, a teacher at Percy Mdala High School, Knysna, will accompany them. Ms Ngubeni received the Western Cape Award for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching in 2006. She was a finalist in Telkom's National Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2005.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) selected the learners after a rigorous selection process. The learners will attend the International Hands-on Universe Academy for Gifted Students in Munich. The academy takes place from 4 to 11 August 2007.

The event forms part of a programme by six partner regions to promote education and to build networks. The regions are Bavaria, Quebec, Upper Austria, Sao Paulo, Shandong and the Western Cape.

The learners and Ms Ngubeni will work together on a project while in Bavaria, and will learn more about the cultures of the partner regions.

Participants will meet at the TUMlab of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The TUMLab is housed in the Deutsches Museum, one of Germany's most popular museums, which presents how modern-day culture is shaped by science and technology.

The topic of the academy is "Hands-on Universe". Topics will include the life cycle of stars, supernova light curves, supernovae cosmology, the Perlmutter Supernova Cosmology project of the University of Berkley, California, and measurement of distances in deep space.

The Western Cape learners have prepared thoroughly for the trip, with the help of the WCED, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Cape Town and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

The SAAO hosted the delegation at the Observatory in Cape Town and in Sutherland, where they visited the South African Largest Telescope (SALT) and engaged in some night viewing of stars and galaxies. Astronomers and engineers described the construction of the SALT and how it is contributing to our understanding of the universe.

Prior to their departure, the team will present what they have learned to date to top management and officials of the WCED, and guests from UCT, the SAAO and the media. They are scheduled to provide feedback on their trip to their peers at the SALT in Sutherland on their return.

The WCED established the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology and COSAT to increase the number of learners from poor communities who excel in Mathematics, Science and Technology. They are among a wide range of projects designed to develop the human capital of the Western Cape.

Issued by:
Paddy Attwell
Director: Communication
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za

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2007 WCED