Paper jets in the classroom might annoy a lot of teachers, but the Science Learning Centre of the University of the Western Cape (UWC-SLC), in partnership with the Sakhikamva Foundation, hosted the annual Paper Jet competition in Athlone on Saturday 24 May 2014.
Learners from the fourteen schools which fall under the Central Education District of the Western Cape Education Department were invited to attend the event. The competition aimed to test the speed, distance and design capabilities of the paper jets crafted and entered into the competition by learners. Teams from each school combined their knowledge of aerodynamics, mathematics and paper engineering with a good throwing arm, and competed in three categories, namely: the longest flight duration (timed with a stopwatch); the longest distance flown (measured with a measuring tape); and the best paper airplane design (learners presented and explained their design/research to the panel).
Prof Shaheed Hartley, Director of the UWC Science Learning Centre, indicated that “the collaboration with the curriculum advisor of the Central Education District has been a great success. Mr Francois Jones is one of the teachers who was trained by UWC-SLC and has moved on to be a curriculum advisor in the Western Cape district”.
“It is our first time hosting the competition in conjunction with all the schools in this district which includes areas such as Langa, Gugulethu, Athlone and many others”, he explains.
“Through this competition we intend to instil a culture of taking science and technology seriously at an early age, by getting students to use their geometry skills in the time and distance categories of the competition. We want to see these kids as pilots one day and that is why we came up with the Paper Jet Competition” adds Prof Hartley.
“We know how much kids love throwing paper jets around at school, so we decided to give them and their teachers some formal training. Each school also hosted an internal competition – which is how we chose the groups present here today,” says Prof Hartley.
Fatima Jakoet, who is the founder of the Sakhikamva Foundation and a qualified pilot working for South African Airways, says the competition encourages the students and their teachers to think outside of the classroom.
She also adds that the partnership with UWC started in 2012 and has been getting better every year since.