SAASTA's National Science Olympiad is a project that was started in 1964, initially for grade 12 learners with the objective of promoting Physical Science. Now in its 49th year, the competition continues to be one of SAASTA’s flagship projects. Since 2005, the project offers learners in grades 10 -12 an exciting opportunity to compete in the science arena with fellow learners from across all the nine provinces and SADC countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Lesotho.
The competition encompasses of an annual examination in science(Physical and Life Sciences), top learners and schools stand a chance to win over 30 exciting prizes. The top national performers also stand a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the London International Youth Science Forum and the Australian National Youth Science Forum.
The Olympiad currently comprises two papers/streams: Physical Science (Physics and Chemistry) and Life Science. Learners can choose to write either the Physical Science or Life Science papers.
The main aim of the competition is to encourage excellence in science education, yet also to stimulate interest in the sciences. It seeks to inspire young people to consider careers in science and technology.
Over the years, participation and performance in the National Science Olympiad has increased significantly from approximately 700 learners in 1967 to over 24 000 in 2012.
Traditionally, during June/July vacation, a group of 100 learners who excel or demonstrate potential in the Olympiad examination, are invited to participate in a Science Focus Week consisting of stimulating lecturers, excursions, industry visits and other fun events. Five learners (from five different categories) who demonstrated exceptional performance are selected to attend the London International Youth Science Forum during July/August and another three to attend the Australian National Youth Science Forum in January of each year.
During the focus week a high profile Award Giving Ceremony is organised and key stakeholders from Government, Science Councils, and the Business sector are invited. This year the National Science Focus Week will be during the June/July vacation and a high profile Award Giving Ceremony is held on last week of June .