More than 130 teachers from across South Africa and Africa will this week meet with government officials and education experts to explore ways of getting more learners interested in studying science and maths at the first Intel Educator Academy to be held on the continent.
During the three-day Intel Educator Academy, being held at Birchwood, east of Johannesburg, educators will present workshops on student research, project-based learning and other proven ways to engage students in the critical STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Intel South Africa’s Education Lead, Andre Christian, says the Academy forms a key part of his company’s efforts to upskill educators across the continent, and is aimed at building on science competitions in Africa to help drive real improvements in maths and science education.
“When students use the steps of scientific inquiry, they learn science in a most empowering way,” says Christian. “The rewards of completing a project are immense. Students who perhaps never have been successful in science (or any academic area) before will show new enthusiasm when involved in their own research project.
“Their self-esteem and self-discipline can improve. They may discover a whole new world of science, technology, or engineering and be motivated to seek out science experiences beyond the classroom, not to mention to working harder in that classroom.”
Each year, Intel hosts the world’s largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, in the United States. Earlier this year, nine of South Africa’s brightest young scientists – and another six from Nigeria – joined more than 1 500 students from around the world at Intel ISEF.
Through initiatives like this week’s Educator Academy, Christian hopes to see a marked increase in the numbers – and quality – of projects being submitted to local science expos. The Academy is designed to educate teachers about the importance of such events and how to prepare their students for participation.
Christian says it is “critically” important to stimulate a love for science and maths among South African learners. He believes it is up to the private and public sector alike to encourage young bright innovators to use competitions such as Intel’s ISEF as a platform to show off their innovations.
“In our increasingly global economy, curiosity, critical thinking and a strong foundation in maths and science are necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to compete for the high-tech jobs of the future. Curious minds, coupled with inspiring and knowledgeable teachers, are the foundation for world-changing innovation,” says Christian.