South Africa 19.10.2017 06:40 am

American scientist wows Pretoria pupils

American scientist and Youtube sensation, Tyler DeWitt, poses for a picture after speaking to local teachers about changing how we think about teaching and learning in the sciences at the University of Pretoria's Mamelodi Campus, 18 October 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

American scientist and Youtube sensation, Tyler DeWitt, poses for a picture after speaking to local teachers about changing how we think about teaching and learning in the sciences at the University of Pretoria's Mamelodi Campus, 18 October 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The 35-year-old with a PhD in microbiology is in the country as part of the US Mission to South Africa’s initiative to promote education and innovation.

Mamelodi schoolchildren gasped with amazement as renowned American scientist and YouTube sensation Dr Tyler DeWitt blew their minds with creative science experiments at the University of Pretoria (UP) yesterday.

DeWitt, known for his story telling and pictorial style when teaching science, uses interactive magic, sketches and tales to give a better understanding of the complex subject.

The 35-year-old with a PhD in microbiology is in the country as part of the US Mission to South Africa’s initiative to promote education and innovation.

His fifth stop was at the UP’s Mamelodi campus yesterday, where he brought expert ideas on teaching science to an average pupil at the Mae Jemison Science Centre.

Addressing science and technology teachers from various high schools in Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, DeWitt encouraged them to use creativity in the classroom, as textbooks were often too “serious and boring”.

By interacting with pupils aged between 12 and 18 and teachers through simple magic tricks and fascinating experiments, he encouraged engagement of how to better the education system.

DeWitt said he used a lot of magic as an analogy to make teachers and pupils wonder about science and to inspire critical thinking.

“I noticed in South Africa and other countries in the world the way in which the education system in science can take the curiosity and excitement of science and kill it by making students memorise the curriculum and the vocabulary.

“If we could just teach the basics really well, it could benefit people across all levels of education,” he said.

The schoolchildren were taught, in a captivating manner, different ways of looking at bacteria while doing colour-changing magical experiments with acids and bases.

DeWitt gained popularity when he started uploading his science lessons onto YouTube more than a decade ago. He developed his interactive teaching style after he realised it was the “serious” language that led to pupils losing interest in science. – rorisangk@citizen.co.za

 

today in print