The Minister of Science and Technology for South Africa, Naledi Pandor spoke to the winning students of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – MeerKat Schools Competition on Monday, urging them to continue studying math and science.
According to allAfrica.com Pandor told the winning students yesterday in Pretoria that South Africa needs more scientists. She was also encouraging students to become more innovative.
“We want to invest through you,” Pandor said.
The overall goal of the SKA-MeerKat competition is to increase awareness of one of the biggest engineering and research projects in South Africa.
Students from grades 4 to 11 were presented with the unique opportunity to enter the competition. Over 200,000 application forms were sent out to schools, science and community center’s throughout the nation.
The students who won the competition received prizes such as laptops, printers, and tours to astronomy observatories.
Earlier this year South Africa along with it’s partner countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand were awarded the contract to host the SKA radio telescope. Approximately 70 per-cent of telescope will be constructed in Africa, while the rest will be built in Australia.
Once completed the majority of the telescope will be located in Northern Cape, with remote telescope stations across the country and in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
According to cbc.ca the South African portion of the telescope will be installed to monitor the small portions of the sky in significant detail.
The major difference between a radio telescope and traditional optical telescope is the ability to monitor sound waves and frequencies. Radio scopes can identify new parts of outer space that traditional optical scopes could not.
The construction of the scope will bring top ranking scientists and engineers from around the world to South Africa and other African nations. The scope is expected to propel South Africa into a leading international hub for astronomy and other science related fields.