Computer lab fit-out gives schoolchildren a step up in STEM studies
Some 140 school pupils have been enjoying a digital learning upgrade using equipment provided by their local wind farm in South Africa’s Northern Cape.
St. Anna Senior Secondary School, outside the town of Springbok, recently fitted out its computer lab with ten PCs, workstations and two air conditioning units – widening access to online resources in a more comfortable classroom environment.
The refurbishment was funded by Kangnas Wind Farm as part of its drive to support the uptake of STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – at six schools in the Nama-Khoi municipal area.
It augmented the lab’s existing interactive electronic whiteboard and uncapped wifi that had previously been secured for the Grade 8 to Grade 12 learners under the same e-technology initiative.
Mainstream’s Economic Development Manager at Kangnas Wind Farm, Cheryl Persensie, explained: "Equipping and setting up this computer lab is a natural extension of our over-arching STEM programme, that has taken on the installation of digital classroom technology and the necessary teachers training to ensure maximum value, plus will continue to provide wi-fi access at the six high schools that benefited from this initiative."
Earlier this year, the Kangnas ED team collaborated with the Northern Cape Department of Education to roll out a web-based mathematics teaching platform across Nama-Khoi schools, integrating technology in the classroom to enhance student engagement and results in the subject.
The ‘HeyMath’ software, along with related teacher training and support, has since been building Grade 7 & 8 learners’ confidence in gateway topics such as algebra, establishing a foundation for them to continue maths studies in further education.
And in providing access to exam revision resources through mobile devices, even without an internet connection, it has also softened the impact of school attendance disruptions during Covid-19.
Juliana de Jongh, Grade 8 Maths teacher at Okiep High School, one of the ten schools in Namakwa District to benefit, said: "HeyMath is especially effective with visual learners. I am optimistic about it and think that our learners will perform much better in their assessments. Furthermore, I believe that they will develop a love for mathematics through the programme."
‘Digital classrooms’ have been found to be particularly helpful in teaching high school STEM subjects, as they deliver a more visual, interactive experience that improves pupil engagement and their understanding of new concepts.
Explaining the ED programme’s focus on educational technology, Cheryl Persensie said: "This is in support of advancing STEM, an area of multi-disciplinary education that South Africa urgently needs to apply more resources to if we are to keep up with the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies in our schools.
"Access to digital platforms improves the quality of education in many ways. It opens doorways to a wealth of information, knowledge, and educational resources, increasing opportunities for learning in and beyond the classroom. Teachers use online materials to prepare lessons, and students to extend their range of learning.
"Interactive teaching methods, supported by the internet, enable teachers to give more attention to individual students’ needs and support shared learning. Furthermore, access to the internet helps educational administrators to reduce the costs and improve the quality of services at schools."
- The 140 MW Kangnas Wind Farm was developed and constructed by Mainstream for our Africa Joint Venture, Lekela Power. Entering commercial operations in November 2020, its 61 turbines are now generating more than 513 GWh of clean energy a year, enough to meet the equivalent demand of 154,625 average-sized households, while annually saving 550,000 tonnes of fossil fuel plant CO2 emissions.