While a number of Youth Day celebrations went on across the country yesterday, a group of school girls from Cape Town took part in a robotics hackathon that was the beginning of what will be Africa’s first satellite.

The event was hosted by the Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO) during the launch of its Women in STEM program, which is aimed at developing skills among young girls from grades 10 to 12.

In this initial workshop, the girls were tasked with assembling small jiggy bots from scratch. Thereafter, all the robots were pitted against each other to see which was the fastest. While this wasn’t satellite building per se, it was the step on a journey that will see the girls get a project into space.

Later this year during the September school holiday, the MEDO Women in STEM program will host a camp where the girls will begin working on the satellite which is set to be completed during the December holidays and be ready for launch sometime in early 2016.

“The intention of this programme is not to be a once-off. It is to be the start of at least a decade-long drive to inspire young people to enter the science and technical fields,” MEDO CEO Judi Sandrock told News24.

“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,” said Nina-Rose Clarke from Pinelands High School.

[Image – MEDO Twitter]