Durban learners are being encouraged to experience career opportunities in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), even though access to resources and inclusiveness are still regarded as some of these fields’ biggest challenges across the world.
It was recently reported in BusinessTech that to put the importance of STEM literacy into perspective, some form of STEM education will be required from 80% of prospective jobs in South Africa. Problem-solving, critical thinking, basic arithmetic, science principles, and a foundational use of computers and applications will set underprivileged individuals up for success. Students entering post-secondary studies or a new job with confidence in STEM, such as basic computer skills, will help them to keep up with expectations.
MAHLE, the international automotive components manufacturer, working in association with the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) are actively promoting the fields of Maths and Sciences and providing better access to quality learning resources.
The MAHLE F1 in Schools engineering challenge is giving more than 120 Grade 7 learners a chance to experience STEM-based careers through an exciting project management, design-and-build challenge.
20 primary schools entered the competition in February and have been chosen to participate in the six-month-long learning event. Learners were chosen after submitting “inspiring motivational letters”.
Teams of six learners are now working on a design for a miniature scale F1 race car, which they will build, brand and market before a final race event at Hillcrest Primary School in August. Winning teams stand to win up to R7 000. Trophies and medals, not to mention automotive gear, tech gear tog bags, headphones, and stationery will all form part of the winnings.
MAHLE said that the objective was to “inspire learners to learn about aerodynamics, design, manufacture, branding and graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership, teamwork and apply them in a practical, imaginative and competitive way”.
“Each team has at least two girl learners, which is another feat,” said Jolene van Heerden, Communications Manager for MAHLE in South Africa. She said: “Some schools are still setting up their technology departments and have decided to enter. Teachers are giving the learners a great learning opportunity with no experience and showing us that they are up to the challenge.”
Jolene encouraged educators and parents to inject fun into the teaching and learning of STEM subjects, both inside and outside of the classroom. “Your passion for the subjects will be felt by learners,” she said.
MAHLE hopes to eventually turn the MAHLE F1 in Schools challenge into a national competition, and that the winning team will then be able to compete on an international stage.
Jolene concluded: “Yes, STEM-related industries are still male-dominated, but I am happy to see that things are starting to shift. MAHLE has always believed the change needs to start at the grassroots level, therefore, we focus on educating and inspiring the girl child from Grade 6 already to start them thinking of a career in the STEM industry. Through the competition and our work with Science2Go (another project MAHLE supports with CASME) we are starting to see more girls interested in these fields and selecting Science as one of their subjects in Grade 10.”