Boland learners on way to NASA
By: Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Meeting real-life astronauts, learning about jet propulsion and psychological effects on long-duration spaceflights and how the weightless environment of being in space affects the human body.
These are some of the topics two Boland learners will learn about as part of the United Space School programme at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. Alet-Mari van der Merwe (17), a learner at Hoërskool Stellenbosch and Antoni Meyer (16) a grade 11 learner at Paarl Gymnasium are the only two South Africans who have been chosen for this programme. They will leave for the US on 24 July.
“I burst into tears when I heard that I was one of those going to Houston,” said Alet-Mari. “It will be a wonderful experience. Learners from 24 countries will be on the programme and I know I will benefit greatly from the interaction. We also had to complete five challenging projects and because of the research, I have already learnt a lot more than I thought I would – and this even before I have left South Africa.”
CAPTION: Conrad Sidego, Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch chats to Alet-Mari van der Merwe a few days before her departure for NASA, Houston, Texas, where she will attend a two week programme.
On Tuesday (14 July 2015) she and her mother, Renata, had tea in the office of Conrad Sidego, Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch. “Your experience at NASA is an opportunity that is also a crash course in what it entails to be human,” said Sidego.
“Your perspective will broaden and you will look differently at your school, your town and the world. I want to urge you and other young people to be brave and to always be willing to take risks. By accepting new challenges, you can help to design the future.”
The aim of the program is to kindle and develop a new generation’s interest in and involvement with space and related sciences.
Alet-Mari says it was a surprise to realise how many different career opportunities there are at NASA.
“NASA employs among others astronauts, engineers, scientists, people in the medical field and designers. We shall attend lecture by people from all of these disciplines. All the learners will work on a large project with the theme Manned Mission to Mars. The five projects we had to work on determined in which group we will work once we get to Houston and each group will bring its own skills to the project.”
Antoni Meyer (16), who lives in Melkbosstrand, says he decided to become an aerospace engineer when he was in grade 4.
“Since then I have never doubted my decision. This programme will take me right inside NASA and is an opportunity to see up close what exactly I will do one day,” he says. “This is also not about being the top student at school, but about having a passion. There are other learners in my school who do much better than me academically, but they do not have the same passion as I.”
Why did Alet-Mari apply for this programme?
“Some time ago I met advocate Wida du Plessis who through Young Wings Project does selection for the programme. I couldn’t stop asking her questions and we spoke for hours. She inspired me.”
Alet-Mari says her field of interest is design. Although she has never before considered traveling to space, someone recently asked her if she would like to do this. Since then this possibility has been in the back of her head.
“I might one day decide to travel to Mars,” she says.
Being accosted and robbed of their cell phones and money and confrontations by drunk people. These are but a few of the realities that learners from Klapmuts who travelled to school in Paarl by mini-bus taxi and train were exposed to.
But since the introduction of a new bus service, 280 learners can now travel to school in safety.
Caption: Some of the Klapmuts learners who can now travel to school in safety. They are holding Cllr Sophie Louw (Local Economic Development). The learners are (from left): Jeimicklynne Alexander, Brydgette Abrahams, Johanna Kroutz (a parent), Carlene Kroutz, Kaylene Alexander, Carrey-Ann Jacobs, Ryan Alexander and (in front) Des-Lee Hartzenberg and Bronwyn Marang.
“I cannot explain the sense of relief I feel now,” says parent Amanda Borens, a cleaner working at the Greater Stellenbosch Municipality. “I used to be tense all day waiting for my daughter, Nicole (13), to come home by taxi. Sometimes she arrived hours late because the mini-bus taxi was not on time.”
Nicole, a learner at Klein Nederburg Secondary School in Paarl says she was often late for school. “I do not like being late because it wastes education time,” she says. “We would often wait for the taxi early in the morning while it was still dark. It was horrible when it did not arrive.”
The bus service was introduced early in June after three years of hard work by Stellenbosch councillors Sophie Louw (Local Economic Development) and Aldridge Frazenburg (Community Services).
“I am also a mother and although my children are grown up, I know how worried parents are when they think their children are exposed to dangerous situations,” says Louw.
“Some of the learners who travelled from Klapmuts to Paarl by train, had to walk three to four kilometers to get to the station. And in Paarl they had to walk from the station to their school. Some of the children were robbed of their cell phones and money on the way. Many of the learners would arrive at the Paarl station and decide it was too much effort to walk further and they would then just spend the day at the station or walk around town. With the bus service the learners get dropped right in front of their different schools. In general it is a much safer situation.”
Conrad Sidego, Executive Mayor of Stellenbosch says: “No child should be exposed to this kind of danger. Our aim is to help the people of the greater Stellenbosch to live with dignity and to create a safe environment. As the innovation capital we continuously strive to find practical solutions to problems and this initiative helps to keep our children safe.”
Six buses daily transport 280 children.
Mr Mervyn Alexander, father of Jeimicklynne (13), lives near the Klapmuts station. He says he often witnessed groups of children from different schools fighting.
“Once a stone they threw at each other smashed through one of my windows. Although Jeimicklynne did not travel by train but by taxi, she also had to walk far and was exposed to a number of dangers. One of her friends was attacked and robbed of her cell phone. It is terrible to worry about your child all the time.”
Some of the learners walked through gangster controlled areas and they were sometimes confronted by intoxicated visitors to the shebeens.
A number of learners said they are thankful that their parents no longer have to pay for transport which cost an average of R480 per child. The tab is now picked up by the Provincial Government.
Notice of Power Interruption: Kayamandi
The supply of electricity to your premises will be disconnected for the period shown below to enable necessary emergency work to be carried out. The supply may be resumed within a shorter period and must be deemed alive at all times.
Please switch off sensitive equipment in order to avoid damages thereto during the re-energising of the supply.
Please inform your security company of the supply interruption.
Date: 06 July 2015
Time: 08:00 – 11:00
Contact: 021 808 8302 / 021 808 8300
Umbane endaweni okuyo okanye ohlala kuyo uzakucinywa okwexeshana elibonisiweyo ngezantsi ukwenzela isivumelwano ngomsebenzi wethutyana. Umbane kunokwenzeka ubuye phambi kwexesha elibekiweyo kungoko ucelwa okokuba unga cingi okokuba awukabuyi kufune uhlale ukwisimo onokuthi xa ubuyileyo ubenokuwubona.
Nceda ucime izixhobo ozisebenzisayo ezibuthathaka, ukuthintela umo nakalo onokuthi udaleke xa umbane ubiyiselwa kwakhone.
Nceda wazise inkmpani yakho yezo khuseleko ngoluphazamiseko lombane.
Date: 06 July 2015
Time: 08:00 – 11:00
Contact: 021 808 8302 / 021 808 8300
Validity of Coupons for Disposal of Waste
Dear Consumer Please note that all disposal of waste coupons purchased during the 2014/15 financial year, will only be valid for use until 30 June 2015.
With effect from 1 July 2015, only coupons purchased in the 2015/16 financial year will be valid for use until 30 June 2016 at the disposal facilities. No other coupons will be accepted for disposal of waste.
The new tariff for half (½) ton disposal is R225.40 (Vat Incl.), and for one (1) ton R450.80 (Vat Incl.).
No extension will be granted for coupons purchased during the 2014/15 financial year after 30 June 2015. If any person wishes to get a refund for the additional coupons they have for this financial year 2014/15.
They need to submit the following to the Manager: Solid Waste Management:
The unused Landfill Coupon/s, with the receipt, and a letter requesting a refund.
The letter with the coupon/s will be considered and supported before forwarding the documentation to the Finance Department for approval.
The deadline for refunds will be 26 June 2015.
Please be informed that the normal municipal door-to-door refuse collection service that takes place in Kayamandi will change as from July 2015. The areas affected will be serviced every Tuesday, starting as from 7 July 2015.
Residents are kindly requested to ONLY place refuse out on Tuesdays.
We thank you for your cooperation.