Ntuthuko Buthelezi

Science is something that I love. There was a shortage of educators while I was studying for my BSc in mathematics and science and so I became an educator before I got my qualification. I did my Post-graduate Certificate in Education, and I’m now working on my Honours degree in mathematics.

My background is in chemistry, so I’m not an expert in concepts like electricity. The STEAM Foundation’s training was fantastic. We were able to observe concepts with our eyes and see how things like circuits work. The facilitators were very good. The training gave me confidence for teaching natural sciences to my learners. We weren’t able to do demonstrations before, and the learners were disadvantaged. The Experimento kit has made the learners excited for practical lessons. Now they understand. I have seen an improvement in the class work I give my learners, their ability to understand is totally different from what I’ve seen in other years. The kit has made it possible for me to inspire. Even I have gained more knowledge and understanding of natural sciences.

– Ntuthuko Buthelezi
Banguni Secondary School, Mdlebeni, KwaZulu Natal

Lihlikusasa Khuzwayo

I want to help others, particularly young people, to realise their dreams. I became a teacher because I wanted to give back to the community, and I chose to teach science because there is so much you can learn. It’s one of the most interesting subjects. Before I received the STEAM Foundation training and the Experimento materials I found it very difficult to explain certain concepts like electricity. Learners could only imagine the concepts, and many are visual learners who absorb knowledge better when they can see something physical. As a teacher, you need to be able to demonstrate in order for your learners to get a full understanding. That was the biggest challenge I faced in the classroom.

The educator seminar helped me clarify many things in my own mind, especially the activity involving lightbulbs. The practicals made concepts clearer. When I took the Experimento kit to school, my learners were so excited to see it. Suddenly, they were proud to be a part of the lesson, and they wanted to participate, even students who are shy or naughty. The children are working together and are more interested in science. Whenever you bring something into the classroom it arouses their interest, compared to a simple text book. I would say the results of having the kit are that the learners are eager to learn and want to participate. They want to touch something, and experience it.

Since the training I have found it easier to communicate concepts to the learners, and the subject has become more interesting for me. Everything is more interesting. I’m more excited to go into the classroom knowing everyone will be a part of the lesson. I also know that the learning outcomes/objectives will be easier to achieve.
The challenge is that we only have one kit, and so our large classes have to share. This can be difficult.

– Lihlikusasa Khuzwayo
Ukukhanyakwezwe Secondary School, Nhlanomfula, KwaZulu Natal

Nobuhle Mbotho

I became a life sciences and mathematics teacher because I want to understand what is happening around me. Understanding how the world operates is very important, and that’s something I want to pass on to the next generation.

The training provided by the STEAM Foundation was incredibly informative. Something I’ve struggled with in my classroom is explaining circuitry. Without practicals I could only explain electricity theoretically, and some learners really struggled to grasp the concept. The training and Experimento kits have given my students the opportunity to visualise how electricity works, and I feel more confident as I’ve found new ways of explaining complex ideas to them. The effect in my classroom is remarkable. Now that there is something to see, students are eager to learn about how electricity works. It has also brought the children closer together. They are learning how to lean on one another for information, and are working better together. One of my students even came to me and said they now want to be an electrical engineer – that’s the kind of difference this training has made to their learning experience.

At the training I engaged with different teachers, and we were able to share our challenges and our solutions to those challenges.

– Nobuhle Mbotho
Banguni Secondary School, Mdlebeni, KwaZulu Natal

Nigel Beck

In our groups we discussed different methods of teaching each section. The more we spoke, the more ideas we got for different teaching techniques. Your method of teaching might work for some learners, but others will like something completely different. It’s important to cater to the needs of all your students. Some are visual, some are more practical, and some are fine with just listening. What’s good for one, won’t necessarily be good for someone else.

I liked that we got to do some practical work at the STEAM Foundation training. Our school isn’t a very rich school, so it’s nice to have a circuit board near you so that the children can actually see what you’re speaking about. They don’t just hear random words like ‘cells’ and ‘circuit boards’. The children are very excited to use the Experimento science kit. I can see their enthusiasm.

– Nigel Beck
Bethelsdorp High School, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape

Nomava Mlandu

I really recommend the STEAM Foundation training. It increased my confidence and was helpful for topics I didn’t understand. Last term I didn’t understand much about chemical reactions, but the training helped me get a better understanding. I also learnt how to create a lesson plan which helped with my planning and to be more organised.

In the past we lacked the materials needed to do practical work. But with the Experimento kit the children can do the practical work by themselves. They enjoy the subject and understand it better.

We also learnt to explain scientific concepts to the learners using examples that they can relate to. For example, to teach acceleration, you explain how a car pulls off from a traffic light and increases its speed. And when you teach acids and bases, you tell them about the vinegar they have at home.

– Nomava Mlandu
Motherwell High School, Motherwell, Eastern Cape

Andile Sanqela

The STEAM Foundation training changed my teaching style and gave me ideas to make science interesting for my grade 8 learners. We learnt how to teach the curriculum in different ways and now I incorporate drawing into my classes.

I learnt that the way we entice learners into the content is by letting them draw the electrical appliances that they know, like a TV, microwave or iron. After they’ve drawn it, you ask them how it works. You plug it in, flip the switch on the wall and the TV lights up. Then you explain how that happens. The learners realise that these are everyday things that they can relate to and that has really boosted their confidence. Their attitudes towards science have also improved – they really like the subject now!

The training also gave me a better idea of what science is all about and my enjoyment and confidence in the subject has increased.

Connecting with the other teachers at the training was very valuable. We shared our experiences and teaching methods. Teaching is a skill which needs to be worked on every day, and this is how you enhance those skills. We also moderate and comment on each other’s test and exam papers on Google Drive, and the STEAM Foundation trainers provide support when necessary.

I really recommend the training.

– Andile Sanqela
Molly Blackburn Secondary School, Uitenhage, Eastern Cape

Nkosazana (Khosi) Selanto

I learnt things at the STEAM Foundation training that were new to me. The trainer showed us how to use the Experimento science kit and answered our questions until we were comfortable to use it ourselves. I enjoyed the challenge.

We have about 40 learners in each class, so the teachers use the science kit to do demonstrations. The children are more actively involved and more engaged. Most of them concentrate better and are more interested in the subject now.

The teachers are very happy too, because they always ask me if they can use the kit.

Inquiry-based learning is interesting. Learners become bored when you teach them theory only. The training taught us that the children must be actively involved in learning. They must be able to see more than they can read in the text book.

When I was a school child in the township, we mostly did theory. There was no apparatus. At least today’s children can see how everything works.

– Nkosazana (Khosi) Selanto – Natural Sciences head of department
KwaMagxaki High School, Ibhayi, Eastern Cape