VIDEO: Neath scientist's mission to inspire African youngsters with Catching the Light project
A RESEARCH assistant from Neath has returned from a trip of a lifetime to Africa to teach chemistry.
Dr Matthew Lloyd Davies, who works at Bangor University, but is originally from Cimla, led a team scientists from the UK and South Africa in running an outreach programme on the continent.
Dr Davies, a Specific Technology Transfer Fellow was project leader of the event, called Catching the Light with the Rainbow Nation.
Its aim was to increase the popularity and understanding of chemistry in Mafikeng and Durban, South Africa.
Dr Davies said: "A team of scientists from Bangor University, Swansea University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) ran scientific outreach workshops.
"It was an extremely ambitious project and over the course of two weeks, more than 1300 children took part in workshops centred on chemistry and light.
"On top of this the team ran public lectures, school discussion groups and had an afternoon of teaching chemistry and light to wonderful children who are helped through their education by the charity SOS Africa."
In Durban, the labs of the School of Chemistry and Physics (UKZN University) were used to host local high schools who undertook workshops on making dye-sensitised solar cells from fruit and everyday materials.
The team then made the long journey through the Drakensberg Mountains to Mafikeng where they faced a hectic week with workshops for around 1,000 children across two different high schools in the area, Golfview High School and Mafikeng High School, as well as the Early Learning Centre (ELC) for children aged one to six years.
Dr Davies said: "Workshops here were organised by Henry and Jenny Matthews, who run the South Africa side of the charity SOS Africa.
"This gave the team the opportunity, on rare breaks from running workshops, to witness the excellent work being done by the charity and how it provides empowerment through education, love and a safe environment to learn for underprivileged children in Mafikeng."
The team also donated sports and schools equipment.
Dr Davies, project leader added: "It was a wonderful thing to do, all the children that attended the workshops were so attentive, enthusiastic and appreciative of what we were doing.
"The number one aim was to inspire the children to take a greater interest in science and from the feedback and I really feel we have achieved it.
"It is my hope (and that of all of the team) that some of these children will further discover the wonderful and exciting world of chemistry and science and go on to have very successful and happy lives and careers."