Pupils debate their way to success

Protea Heights Academy pupils, from left, Marco van Renssen, Zara Slade, Alisha Mckechnie, teacher Estelle Kleinhans, Nicole Loubser and Jonathan de Kock.

High school pupils from the Protea Heights Academy, in Brackenfell, took part in the National Schools Debates competition organised by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement(SAASTA) and held at the Research Foundation in Pretoria last Friday.

It was the school’s first crack at the competition.

“Protea Heights Academy was fortunate enough to be part of this event and we were proud to represent the Western Cape,” said teacher Estelle Kleinhans.

She described the competition as an exciting and educational experience.

“The topic really intrigued us as it was about nanotechnology in the medical field in South Africa. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but we still walked away from the competition with a lot of knowledge and we can’t wait for next year.”

Michael Ellis,of SAASTA, said the competition encouraged high school pupils to consider careers in the fields of science, engineering and technology and develop critical thinking skills by debating various scientific topics

“The National Schools Debates is a unique and valuable platform where young minds have an opportunity to debate interesting scientific questions and in the process to learn about the incredible science that is being done in South Africa,” he said.

The first step on the road to the finals was taken at provincial workshops in August, when mini debates were held to identify the best schools in all nine provinces.

The winner was SJ Van Der Merwe Technical high school from Limpopo who won a trip to America to visit National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.