Mobile Laboratories Research and Manufacturing

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After an intensive and extensive research and consultation with school managers, educators and departmental officials nationally, Kusile Labs & Technology established that poor performance and lack of interest in Physical Sciences subjects are to a greater extent attributable to lack of relevant physical resources in the form of laboratories and other science equipment. In some cases the actual building space is not there or where a laboratory once existed, it has been converted into a classroom to accommodate increasing numbers of learners. As a result practical science subjects are compromised. Hence the poor results in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related subjects at grade 12, the final year of secondary school in South Africa.

Most township and rural learners do not have access to science apparatus and experiments and these they encounter at university level for the first time. This leads to many university drop-outs, poor results, or bridging courses in science related subject courses. This leads to fewer science, technology, engineering and mathematics students and lack of skills in the economy. These are much needed fields and yet little has been done to rectify the problem.

The Secretary General of the largest teacher union body (SADTU), Mr. Mugwena Maluleke, noted the lack of learning resources, in particular the laboratories and technology equipment and cried for the country to, “…rally behind education as it rallied behind World Cup”.

If we are to resurrect love for sciences and expel fear thereof, the use and handling of science equipment should be cultivated at primary and secondary phase of education for the learner. Practical experiments, use of apparatus should be started at primary level if we are to build a foundation for future scientists. If we do not supply these necessities (laboratories) at an early learning phase, it only becomes intimidator (at university) and the picture that emerges is that of learners who are intimidated by anything that has to do with sciences.

It is for this reason that we have explored the idea of a Mobile Science Laboratory (MSL) that can be moved from class to class or wherever teaching and learning may take place or from one school to another.

This (above) mobile laboratory will be used in the studio for video production that will be broadcast on the host channel. It will also help the schools that have acquired some of these labs to enhance their knowledge and understanding in the use of the laboratory.

The Mobile Science Unit and its features

Concept

Mobility and user-friendly

Cost effective, acquiring and maintenance

Ideal for rural schools

Durable and chemical resistant

Design

KL&T in consultation with Department of Education

Specialists Science Subjects Advisors

Development and Manufacturing

Kusile Labs & Technology
Features

  • On castors for mobility between classrooms
  • Light weight, can lift it into the van
  • Durable and comes with warranty for 5 years
  • Suitable for both urban and rural schools

Kusile Mobile Laboratory

  • Flips open sideways and create a demonstration table for experiments
  • Shelving is designed for chemicals and apparatus storage

Compact

1250 mm length

950 mm height

720 mm width

2.6 sqm workspace

0.8 cubic metres of storage space

Less than 70kg

Durability

Made of chemically resistant material

5 year guarantee on the panels and working surfaces

3 year guarantee on the assembly

Mobility

Allows for the movement from one class to another

The cost of building an actual laboratory is estimated at between R1.5 to R2 million, the likelihood of building laboratories for all the schools in South Africa is a far cry. The lack of funds to build laboratories in schools and the acquisition of this (Kusile Mobile Laboratory) for all the schools in South Africa leaves the Television Education as the only viable model to use to reach as many learners as possible with immediate effect.

Laboratory Statistics in Schools in South Africa

Department of Education
Laboratories Summary Grid for Ordinary Schools
Province No of With % with Labs % Without % Without
Schools Labs Labs Stocked Stocked Labs Labs
Eastern Cape 5715 493 9 110 2 5222 91
Free State 1643 337 21 103 6 1306 79
Gauteng 1994 800 40 282 14 1194 60
Kwa Zulu Natal 5835 703 12 218 4 5132 88
Limpopo 3918 234 6 59 2 3684 94
Mpumalanga 1540 201 13 44 3 1339 87
North West 1740 281 16 76 4 1459 84
Northern Cape 609 181 30 68 11 428 70
Western Cape 1466 513 35 259 18 953 65
Total 24460 3743 15.3025 1219 4.98365 20717 84.697465

Statssa 2009

Chemically Resistant Material

Kusile Laboratory is made of fibreglass, the material that is designed to resist the reaction that may be caused hazards should the chemicals spill over its surfaces. Its surface which provides the workstation for the pupils is resistant to all the chemicals that are used in the experiments.

Advantages to Learners

  • Cost effective Science Laboratory to learners
  • Immediate delivery of a lab to learners at less costs
  • Promotion of science learning in schools
  • Improvement of skills development in the scientific and engineering fields in the economy
  • More learners will enrol for Physical and Chemistry subjects from lower grades
  • Improved pass rate in the Physical and Chemistry subjects
  • Minimising the number of learners who have to do bridging courses for university entry

Laboratory Statistics

  • On average 3743 out of 24460 schools in SA have laboratories, which represents only 15%
  • Only 5% of laboratories, in only about 1219 schools are functional
  • This leaves about 95% of schools without a functional or no laboratory at all
  • 10% of laboratories are dysfunctional due to high maintenance costs
  • It costs about R.5 million to convert an existing classroom into a laboratory and twice that to build one from scratch
  • Would cost around R40 billion to build enough laboratories for all the schools in SA

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