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Calling Soweto science fans

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Brainiacs from Soweto will get a chance to discover how space scientists, robotics experts and radio astronomists solve some of the world’s biggest problems and mysteries this Saturday during a STEM Community Day.

The day is hosted by the P-STEM Foundation, a South African Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) advocacy organisation founded to promote STEM education, careers and entrepreneurship and is co-sponsored by EMC Corporation, a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service. Exhibitors the likes of Red Bull Amaphiko STEM innovators, HartRAO Planetarium and EMC will be demonstrating the best the field has to offer.

Jonas Bogoshi, Country Manager for EMC Southern Africa, said the P-STEM community day offers a unique opportunity to engage grassroots communities with top-level science opportunities.

“It is a privilege to be in a position to build South Africa’s future capacity in these crucial fields. We are a nation of amazing problem solvers, and community days like these help inspire young minds to jump out of the box.”

Visitors can help solve interesting puzzles, interact with scientists, learn how robots work, and even do robotic programming themselves.

Additional resources will be on offer at the STEM Resource Centre and the Siyafunda Download Centre. Role models involved in the organisation’s work will likewise be present to interact with visitors.

Taking kids from STEM ignorance to STEM excellence

P-STEM has already started with the roll-out of a series of school talks that will continue into 2016.  This will be supplemented by community days, after school programmes, bootcamps and role modelling.

Emma Mahlo, STEM Programmes Administrator, today said that in the midst of an immense STEM skills shortage and unprecedented youth unemployment, community days like this one go a long way to create awareness

“We want to remind South African kids that they can be the changemakers who make the world a better, more sustainable place to live in. Our target is therefore to get 30% of learners who attend our talks and events signed up for our after school programmes.

“For most, our events are the very first time they encounter STEM and what it stands for. We plan to not only build interest, but also develop their skills and confidence in this field and remove obstacles in the way of filling the country’s skills shortage.

“STEM is fun and engaging. And with the live experiments and demos at the stands of our After School Programme we will be inspiring young minds to help solve the mysteries of the universe and the big issues facing our world.”

Date: 30 January 2016

Venue: No 671 Tshianda Street, Soweto. (Just off Chris Hani Rd/ Old Potchefstroom Road)

For enquiries, contact Emma Mahlo, 011 0339780

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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