Umjikelezo WeScience

Umjikelezo We-Science is a joint project between CASME Science2Go, Durban Natural Science Museum (Go Wild), Kitchen Chemistry (University of East Anglia, UK), KZN Science Centre, STEC@UKZN and the UNIZULU Science Centre.

The word Umjikelezo means circle in IsiZulu and draws on a cultural practice of church groups taking their message on the road to communities. In this spirit the project is taking the message of Science to rural KwaZulu-Natal.The project is modelled after Dr Graham Walker’s Science Circus Africa which is a pioneering science outreach project running in Southern Africa.

Umjikelezo We Science aims to engage and promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to rural communities throughout KwaZulu-Natal using interactive exhibitions and dynamic science shows. We want to make STEM inspiring, amazing and accessible for students, teachers and the community who, usually due to their location and financial background, are not exposed to Science Centres and museums.

The roadshow includes a science show aimed at transferring scientific knowledge and promoting science literacy in a fun and interactive way. We also arrange career talks giving learners an overview of the various careers in the field of science, agriculture, mathematics and engineering and include communicating the relevant university entrance requirements and the need for core Math (and Physics, if studying Engineering). And finally in the ‘science busking’ learners engage with science on a personal level by conducting science experiments themselves.

The pilot programme started in 2017 in the outskirts of the Ethekwini Municipality. We targeted learners from grades eight to ten to encourage an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers and improve enrolment in high school Mathematics and Physical Science. Since then Umjikelezo We Science has reached more than 4 000 learners from Grade R to Grade 12 as well as teachers and the public in Zululand, greater Ethekwini area, and on the KZN south coast.