Science in transit

17 October 2005

A lab in a lorry? Yes indeed. And it has been cruising the province's highways in the name of science. Modelled on a project in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the lorry is touring 11 schools in the Western Cape in the weeks leading up to the World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development in Durban from October 31 to November 2.

Inside, their students (11 to 14) will see science experiments in action. The idea is to kindle an interest in science, complementing what they're learning in the classroom.

The lorry contains three labs, and volunteer mentors take the pupils through experimental physics.

The schools are all supported by the Schlumberger Foundation, a leading oilfield services technology company, through the SEED science education programme for developing countries.

Experiments use everyday objects to demonstrate scientific principles: the resonating wine glass using a strobe light to reveal how the glass changes shape when it vibrates with sound; stress and strain exerted on different shapes and materials, showing how a thighbone (femur) is actually stronger under compression than concrete; extracting oil using air as water and bright green glycerol as oil.

School visited include Koeberg Primary in Maitland, Crestway Secondary in Steenberg, Sakumlandela Primary in Khayelitsha and the Pella Moravian School in Atlantis.

Volunteers came from UCT, the University of the Western Cape, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

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