year in review 2018 Paperturn - Page 156



SUPPORTING SCIENCE
TEACHERS
c*hemRoots, an initiative of Catalysis c*change in the Department of
Chemical Engineering, is catalysing change in South African high schools
by distributing 25 000 resource kits to teachers through a series of
training workshops over the next three years.
The plastic box holds all the
necessary chemicals, equipment and
instructions to create dozens
of chemistry practicals on acids and
bases for grades 8 to 12. Future kits
will take on new topics drawn from
the physical sciences curriculum.
“We had to ensure that it was not
only cost effective and durable, but
also that it contains materials that are
readily available at a supermarket,”
explained Dr René Toerien, the lead
on the c*hemRoots project.
Toerien and Dr Nico Fischer,
associate professor in the Chemical
Engineering department, developed
the kit along with accompanying
teaching resources in a bid to
provide teachers with materials
that focus on using practical
work as a teaching strategy.
“While there are many reasons
for poor learner performance at
school level, one leading issue
we identified is teachers’ lack of
content knowledge,” said Fischer.
Professor Michael Claeys, director
of c*change, said, “c*hemRoots has
the potential to increase the number
of students who are eligible to access
science and engineering programmes
at a tertiary level ... This is a great
example of fulfilling the c*change
mandate of catalysing change.”
154

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