The opportunity to work with learners is what Erika Hoffman, who has been involved with Eskom Expo for Young Scientists for 20 years, enjoys the most about the organisation.
Hoffman, who is a facilitator for teacher professional learning at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, started her Eskom Expo journey as a science teacher – teaching first in Bloemfontein and then in Mpumalanga when a colleague introduced her to the organisation.
“Since a very young age I wanted to be a teacher,” says Hoffman. “It has always been my passion to teach”.
Hoffman obtained a Bachelor of Science (BSc), a Bachelor of Science Honours, followed by a Master of Science (MSc) and a Higher Education Diploma (HED) from the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State between 1981 and 1987.
“I always had an interest in science. It is science that takes the world forward, it is science that teaches learners the necessary skills that will be essential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication,” says Hoffman.
With this in mind, Hoffman established the Stellenbosch Regional Expo 20 years ago after having moved to the Western Cape in 2000.
As the Stellenbosch Regional Science Fair Director, Hoffman is a volunteer who essentially oversees the running of the region, playing the dual role of being both leader and manager of the region.
Eskom Expo in Stellenbosch aims to expose learners to different fields of science with its SUNCEP Science Buddies initiative, which aimed to have learners interact with actual researchers in order to inspire them to develop their own scientific ideas. SUNCEP is the Centre for Pedagogy in Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Education. Hoffman and her team launched the Science Buddies initiative in February 2019.
While learners are currently under lockdown, Hoffman encouraged them to: “Think outside of the box in order to come up with solutions to challenges with your projects, but also in life, generally speaking.”
Eskom Expo has made available online resources to assist learners and teachers across the country during the lockdown period. These are available at www.exposcience.co.za.
Teachers and schools that are interested in taking part in Eskom Expo in Stellenbosch, can contact Hoffman by calling 021 808 3482 or sending an email to email@example.com.