Atterbury Trust helps create hypermodern science classrooms for Stellenbosch High School

Hoërskool Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch High School – HSS) boasts probably the most modern science classrooms in the Western Cape, thanks to the involvement of leading South African property investor and developer Atterbury’s Atterbury Trust.

Two classrooms, for the use of science demonstrations, were recently refurbished with another three are to be completed later this year.

Mr Niel Retief, Head of Department and Head of Life Sciences, says that the refurbished classrooms are not only visually stimulating, but are designed in such a way that learners will be able to do experiments by themselves.

“The new classrooms boast high-tech features such as Wi-Fi, TV screens and modern computer equipment, showing only experiments on YouTube. However, this is only the beginning. It is important for learners to be exposed to the odours, sounds and effects associated with science. The new classrooms therefore place special emphasis on experimental learning, enriched by media and electronic support.”

Retief adds that the old laboratories and classrooms were nearly 40 years old and had to be refurbished. The classrooms were refurbished with the financial support of the ‘Trust vir Afrikaanse Onderwys’ (TAO), an educational initiative funded by the Dagbreek Trust in collaboration with the Atterbury Trust.

According to Zahn Hulme of the Atterbury Trust, “A core part of our business is investing in the communities where we operate and education is one of the four pillars of Atterbury Trust, so this project is a perfect fit for Atterbury. We are passionate about creating opportunities and this initiative produces future value for everyone. Together with TAO, our support of Hoërskool Stellenbosch is designed to foster and support an interest in science, and to equip young adults with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to build careers that contribute to key economic sectors, especially property, engineering and construction. Science plays a key role in all these areas.”

Retief adds, “What we have now is a space in which learners want to learn and where demonstrations and practicals can be done with ease. The classrooms – in auditorium style – are also arranged in such a way that the teacher can move around in class to reach each learner’s work space to explain the content of the lesson”.

He points out that feedback from learners and staff is extremely positive and both parties are “extremely excited. Even former learners have contacted me to say that they want to take Biology and Life Sciences again!”

According to Retief, each of the classrooms is themed. “Lab 1 is named ‘LIFE’ and Lab 2 is called ‘DNA’. These classes are designed for Life Sciences, while two more classes will focus on Physics and Chemistry, with the practical laboratory theme a combination of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences.

Mr Theo Pellissier, principal of Hoërskool Stellenbosch, said that in addition to the refurbished classrooms, the school is finalising the plans for building an astro hockey turf which will commence in September. “This is all taking place in the year of the school’s 50th birthday celebration. In keeping with our vision, we always try to prepare our learners for life after school, including tertiary education. We try to equip learners with practical skills and not just book knowledge. The refurbished classrooms lend themselves well to this because the subjects presented here, are practical in nature.”

Learners, parents, representatives of the Department of Basic Education and the Stellenbosch Municipality, among others, attended the launch of the first of the new classrooms in August.