Teenage South African girls build Africa's first private satellite

The satellite, which will launch in the first quarter of 2016, is not only a celebration of African innovation, but a positive shift in participation of the African girl child.

Some South African schoolgirls testing out some equipment

Ususally, you would expect a project like Africa's first private satellite to be handled by experts but instead the creation of Africa’s first private satellite is being powered by a group of teenage South African girls.

According to reports, the satellite, which will launch in the first quarter of 2016, is not only a celebration of African innovation, but a positive shift in participation of the African girl child who would have, in the past, let the “geeky boys” handle it.

Sources report that teenagers like Nina-Rose Clarke of Pinelands High School have become more confident as young women and can testify to this paradigm shift. “I never thought building things could be this interesting. I am loving this experience. It’s so exciting to be exposed to more than just drawing and studying ideas. Constructing stuff is so much better,” she says.

Pupils from across Cape Town witnessed the launch of this project backed up by the Meta Economic Development Organisation (Medo). In the course of the programme, they were tasked with engineering their own ‘jiggy-bot’– an electrical device, using diverse mechanisms to light up a bulb and move. The next segment would be carried out during week-long camps over school holidays called SPACETrek, sources say.

At this stage, young women who make it through the earlier workshop will create their satellite payload experiments, and test them with the aid of high altitude weather balloons and radio communication. This programme is expected to inspire young African women, while equipping them with the knowledge they need to face the challenges of a previously male-dominated sector.

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