Youth Day (16 June) saw a group of schoolgirls gathered in Cape Town building their own robots. It’s the first step in a programme that will eventually see young women build the technology for Africa’s first private satellite.
Around 20 young women from six high schools around the Cape Peninsula spent Youth Day building small robots that can be controlled in movement, light and sound. Their work will eventually culminate in the building of the technology for Africa’s first private satellite.
The project is being spearheaded by the Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO) and is aimed at helping young women build up technical skills before they leave school.
MEDO CEO Judi Sandrock says that educating South African girls in science and technology is crucial. Figures show that last year only 7.5% of South Africa’s matric students passed maths with more than 60%. For physical science, the figure was even lower.
The building of these small robots on Youth Day was intended as an introduction to electronics, and similar workshops will be held monthly in different communities. Selected students will then participate in a week-long boot camp to build the payload for the satellite.
In the December holidays, students will participate in a special ‘Space programme’, which will then see the satellite they’ve worked on sent to the Mojave Desert in California for launch.
Sources: Peter Burdin and Daily Maverick