Pupils at Silverlea Primary School were introduced to a new way of doing things in the digital space when its Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aeronautics and Mathematics (STREAM) laboratory was launched.
It is the first primary school, and the fourth school in South African to receive this kind of laboratory, thanks to a partnership between non-profit organisation, Sakhikamva Foundation and Polyoak Packaging Group. The launch, on Tuesday May 11, formed part of an ongoing roll-out of STREAM laboratories.
The STREAM lab will give pupils access to drones, 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence.
Silverlea principal Sharon Coetzee said the school community was excited about the laboratory.
“This will definitely develop creative skills. Our pupils will get the opportunity to be innovative, develop critical skills and to work in a team.
“What I like about this, is that we can now lay the foundation for coding and robotics, which will make our learners eligible to high schools offering continuing education in the tech and Information Technology (IT) field.
“The laboratory will promote a learning environment for kids with talents beyond the traditional curriculum. Hands-on learning activities will help improve concentration levels; the laboratory environment will promote a culture for teamwork; and grappling with a curriculum such as robotics will evoke important qualities such as perseverance.
“Overall, our learners will now have a fantastic chance to be more prepared for the technological changes in the world,” Ms Coetzee said.
Milani Kama, Grade 6, said she could “build all sorts of things” in the lab.
“I like technology. It is fun. It is mind-blowing. We learn about stuff I never thought was possible,” she added.
Luke Blignaut, also in Grade 6, said he liked the creativity and found technology “very interesting”.
Fatima Jakoet, the founder of Sakhikamva Foundation, said all the technology, including robotics and coding, prepared children for the new line of work and equipped them with essential digital skills.
Sakhikamva Foundation is a non-profit organisation, focused on the skills development of youth and children in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4iR) context. Through STREAM laboratories and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrichment programmes and activities, the organisation has engaged with more than 150 000 pupils across the country.
“The new STREAM laboratory provides a stimulating environment for development of STEM skills.
“The classroom is furnished with technologically advanced equipment such as robotics, 3D printers, drones, AI kits as well as engineering and science kits.
“For the educators and learners at Silverlea Primary this will ensure that their children, from Grades R to 7, can develop essential skills in artificial intelligence, design thinking, robotics, coding, aviation and space science,” Ms Jakoet said.
Group managing director, Jeremy Mackintosh of Polyoak added: “We’re delighted to be part of this initiative that helps to prepare the children of Silverlea Primary for a future driven by technology. Too often, children from under-resourced communities get left behind in education, which has lifelong impacts.
“We hope that the school’s new STREAM laboratory will open up many opportunities for their children to unlock their talents and take their places as future change agents and problem-solvers.”