The future is rooted in technology and science
Sustained economic development is at the core of Sasol’s business model, and through various strategic initiatives that drive capacity and skills development, the company is able to share its knowledge and make a meaningful contribution to the country’s economic growth.
However, as we contribute to growth we want to ensure that more members of communities are able to benefit from and participate in that growth. Underlining its commitment to education and more specifically its focus on strengthening school performance around maths, sciences and technology, Sasol Techno X was born.
Now in its 11th year, the exhibition draws visitors from most provinces in the country with last year’s event attracting close to 12 000 schools. This year, Sasol Techno X will be held from 16 to 19 August at the Boiketlong Sports Centre in Sasolburg and is arguably the largest career guidance exhibition of its kind in the Free State.
Aimed primarily at grade 7 to 12 learners, Sasol Techno X focuses on interactive displays, workshops, tours, talks and hands-on activities, all aimed at exposing and inspiring young learners to the practical possibilities of what science, maths and technology can deliver in the real world.
The combination of a career guidance exhibition with hands-on experience creates an awareness of career opportunities that children may never have been exposed to in their isolated communities. In addition, learners will be informed about subject choices as well as the admission requirements to tertiary institutions, thus allowing them to better visualise and access future career prospects.
“We are proud to be sponsoring the11th annual Sasol Techno X. Sasol thrives on innovation and we rely on fresh and new ideas that keep us at the forefront of technology,” says Maurice Radebe, Group Executive at Sasol. “Our future success lies with today’s youth. It is with this in mind that Sasol recognises the importance of promoting a culture of curiosity and innovation that works to demystify both science and mathematics in schools.”
The success of Sasol Techno X can largely be attributed to the company’s growing partnerships with Government and other businesses, which are helping to increase the impact and reach of the event. Sasol believes that through such partnerships, the company is able to address the skills shortage in South Africa and better serve the communities in which it operates.
In 2000, the learning facilitator for Science in the then Northern Free State Education district requested Boitjhorisong Resource Centre (BRC) to arrange a maths, science and technology exhibition for local schools.
The reasoning behind the exhibition was to encourage learners who felt intimidated to tackle maths and science, and it was not easy to convince them to take these subjects at school. What proved more difficult was to convince learners and teachers alike, to choose these subjects on higher grade to later enable admittance to universities for engineering studies.
The exhibition would pave the way for guiding learners to understand the benefits of maths and science, how these subjects are used in everyday life and prove how they could be fun, stimulating subjects when illustrated in the real world. If the maths, science and technology exhibition could inspire some learners to pursue a career in science and engineering, then it would be a success.
The exhibition was set to take place at Boitjhorisong Resource Centre (BRC) but, due to the overwhelming, unexpected response from exhibitors, as well as visitors, it was realised that the BRC facility and terrain was too small and the exhibition was moved to Flavius Mareka FET college, and later relocated to the Boiketlong Sports Centre, Sasolburg.
Through additional support by Sasol for BRC, the name changed from Boitjhorisong Resource Centre Maths and Science Exhibition to the Sasol Science and Technology Exhibition, presented for the first time in 2001. Around 10 000 visitors were expected for the first year, but a whopping 41 000 attended.
In 2002, the name changed to Sasol Techno X and a restriction was placed on the ages of visitors, as large numbers could not be accommodated. The projects competition was launched and developed in leaps and bounds. In the first year there were an estimated 150 windmills as entrants, but as the exhibition became increasingly popular, the quality of the projects improved drastically.
The winners are now often proud medal-holders at the annual national Eskom Expo. This increasing quality is the result of ongoing school engagement where e-learners and teachers are supported and encouraged to do better.
The National Art competition is also extremely popular and works of outstanding quality are presented every year. Over the years, the schools’ approach to the exhibition has changed considerably.
During the first few years, schools booked randomly without any attention to the focus and goals of the event, but today, booking for the event is much more sophisticated. Learners are now booked based on careful selection with an interest in maths, science and an ambition to pursue careers in these fields. Selections of specific workshops and shows are also done in a well thought-through manner.
Feedback on discipline at the exhibition is always very positive. This is attributed to the fact that guides are made available to each visiting group, to accompany them through the terrain, assist them in arriving on time at booked events and are responsible for general discipline.
The Sasol Techno X exhibition has an economic impact on the region, as a number of casual jobs are created. This is a truly community-owned event. Every time the exhibition is held, it is not only the inspiration for students to pursue careers in science and technology, but a platform to obtain valuable work experience and exposure to the industry.
Last year, more than 200 casual jobs were created, the majority are employed as buddies, guides and cleaning personnel. As a fundraising initiative, local schools are granted the opportunity to run food stalls for their schools’ coffers.
For more information on Sasol Techno X or to view the exhibitions displays, workshops, plant tours, talks and hands-on activities on offer visit www.sasoltechnox.co.za
This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as an advertorial supplement