By Thandiwe Kubere
MASERU – Lesotho Science and Mathematics Teachers Association will hold the national science fair with the aim of inspiring, motivating and igniting the love of science and technology in students around the ten districts of Lesotho and to also help them each discover their different talents in preparation of the work environment. The fair will be held at Lesotho College of Education on the 19th- 21st of July.
Evidently, Mathematics, Science and Technology related careers are taking the world by storm with vast opportunities and competitive market salaries. Therefore, as practical as the subjects, there rose a need for learning to be taken outside the classroom walls and for students to partake and engage in practical activities and ways of learning in order to apply the lessons learnt in class, not just through literature but by being proactive.
One of the key players from LSMTA, Keketso Leteba describes Lesotho national science fair as an exposition where learners are given a platform to showcase their scientific investigations and innovations which solve real life problems. “The fair also ignites the learner’s interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) subjects. This year we have around 400 students who will compete at the national level from different districts, both from primary and high school”, he said.
The students will compete under four categories; engineering projects, mathematics projects, social science projects and scientific investigation projects. Other activities to be carried out include; problem solving, where students get to solve complicated Maths related problems. For them to have a project they first have to identify a problem and therefore find a scientific way of solving that particular problem. This says they do not just do the projects but solve problems in their communities.
The intention is to sharpen and harness students’ minds for critical thinking and to mould quick problem solving and analytical skills. This is to also assist them in easily attempting questions back in the classroom, which by the end of the term, the expectation is that they perform well. “In order for students to perform well in Maths and Sciences, they need to have love for them, so it’s these type of activities that ignite that love. It is important to support the development of STEAM subjects in the country because it is one of the factors paving a way for a better economy. Most of the countries which pay attention to the development of such subjects have a much more advanced technology.”
He emphasized that this helps in mentoring and motivating students at a young age because winners from the national fair will transit to represent Lesotho at the International Science fair -ESKOM EXPO for young Scientists in South Africa. He declared that this year most of the learners were engaged from the district level with different projects, and from that the association has witnessed a massive improvement though primary is still a problem due to lack of resources.
This activities are done so as to pursue the mandate of LSMTA which is to improve teaching and learning of STEAM in Lesotho. Not only does the fair benefit the students with helping improve their learning process but also plays a role in strengthening Lesotho’s relationship with neighboring countries. “This fair has attracted other countries like Botswana and Eswatini to an extend that they decided to visit us this year and see how we do things in Lesotho and to also discuss how we as three neighboring countries can have and place BOLESWA/SADC STEAM Expo in 2024 in practice to help students get greater opportunities as a way of investing in a better economy”, said Leteba.
Students who will be regarded top performers will be awarded trophies, certificates and medals. The association is also negotiating with other companies to provide mentorship programs to the best projects and provide some gadgets to assist with learning, especially with the use of technology.
“Last year we had two students who represented us at the International Science fair held in Boksburg Gauteng and one of them was from Holy family High School, she/he brought a silver wear home. Most of the students to partake in this activities and realize their potential eventually pursue Science related courses in higher learning. Some of them eventually get to become technology company owners because of the good foundation they had. We also conduct a follow up on students who have projects which stand out and help them progress further”, said Leteba.
He emphasized that this is a call to every Mosotho and organization that it is time to play a role in the nurturing of Basotho children by assisting in every way possible to make this activities effective and reach the purpose it was intended for. He declared that assistance of funds will come in handy as there are bills to be covered for its smooth operation, bills like; accommodation, raw materials and transportation of students from one place to another. This is because they discovered that the lack of funds adversely affects the initiative because some deserving students end up not being able to take part in the event. Nonetheless Basotho children’s talent needs to be embraced.