The National Science Olympiad is one of SAASTA’s flagship projects. Since 2005, the now 53-year-old project has offered learners in grades 10-12 an exciting opportunity to compete in science with fellow learners from SADC countries such as Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

The competition comprises an annual examination in science (Physical and Life Sciences). The top national performers win all-expenses-paid trips to the London International Youth Science Forum and the Australian National Youth Science Forum.

The main aim of the competition is to identify talent, to encourage excellence in science education and to stimulate interest in the sciences. It seeks to inspire young people to consider careers in science and technology.

Traditionally, during the 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 lectures, excursions, industry visits and other fun events. Learners from different categories who demonstrate exceptional performance are selected to attend either the London International Youth Science Forum during July/August or 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. Next year the National Science Focus Week will be during the June/July vacation and a high profile award giving ceremony will be held in the last week of June.

Enter the 2019 National Science Olympiad

  1. The entry fee for both the National and Natural Science Olympiads is R35.00 per learner per paper.
  2. Learners can enroll for either Physical Sciences or Life Sciences or both subjects
  3. The closing date for the entries is 8 February 2019
  4. The examination date will be:
    15 May 2019 for the Physical Sciences Paper (grades 10-12) and
    16 May 2019 for Natural Sciences (grades 4-6, 7-9) and Life Sciences (grade 10-12)
  5. All papers are available in both English and Afrikaans
  1. Complete the attached form and return it to SAASTA as soon as possible.
  2. Schools should call to confirm the number of learners entered in the Olympiad. Tel: (012) 392 9340 or Fax: (012) 320 7803.
  3. The entry fee for learners will be R35.00 per learner.
  4.  Special arrangements can be made for schools/learners that cannot afford the entry fee. Principals should contact us for details before 01 December 2018.
  5. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions:
    Officials: Mr Ramoloi Maxalaba / Mrs Erna Taljaard
    Tel: 012 392 9300/9346/9337
    Fax: 086 603 4174
    E-mail: scienceolympiad@saasta.ac.za

The National Science Olympiad will comprise of two papers, namely Physical Sciences and Life Sciences (Biology).
• Learners may choose to enter for one of the papers or both.
• Minimum of 50% of the paper will be based on High School syllabus (Grade10 to 12).

• Please help motivate your learners to experience the thrill of competing with others from around the country in the National Science Olympiad.
• Help coordinate learners participation in this event.
• Only learners in grade 10, 11, and 12 may enter to compete for a range of exciting prizes.
• Help your learners prepare by accessing Olympiad papers from previous years at
www.saasta.ac.za (click on “National Science Olympiad”).

Over the years, prizes and awards were given to schools and learners during the Science Olympiad Award Giving Ceremony. During the past three years, over 30 awards in different categories have been made to deserving learners and schools each year. Some of the main categories are:

  •  TOP PROVINCIAL WINNER (Excluding top National Winners)
  • The TOP LEARNER from SADC Schools
  • The TOP LEARNERS will attend a science focus week during September/October vacation in Pretoria

Learners could win:

  • iPods
  • iPads
  • Laptops
  • Book vouchers
  • The top 100 learners from different categories will attend a science focus week during June/July vacation in Pretoria.
  • A trip to attend the International Youth Science Forum in London or the Australian National Youth Science Forum


  •  All learners should be entered before the closing date.
  •  National Science Olympiad Life Sciences (Biology) examinations will be written on Thursday 16 May 2019 from 12:00 – 15:00 under the supervision of the teacher at the school (no need to worry about transport).
  • Results and certificates are sent to schools. SAASTA will ensure that question papers are distributed to schools before the exam and collected thereafter.


Milestones and challenges


Over the years, a number of milestones were achieved through the National Olympiad, in particular:

Participation of learners in the National Science Olympiad during the past nine years has increased significantly as indicated below:

The significant increase was among others due to:

  • Our aggressive marketing strategy that enabled us to reach more schools in rural areas that had not been reached before;
  • Collaborations between the Department of Education and provincial level departments through Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) coordinators; and
  • Increased support by our partners in the business sector, in particular our main sponsor from 2009, Harmony Gold Mining Pty Company, as well as our previous sponsors, Mailtronic,Skynet, and Xahumba.

Identifying and Nurturing Talent

In line with the Department of Science and Technology’s Youth into Science Strategy and the Department of Education’s National Strategy for Mathematics and Science and Technology, the National Science Olympiad identifies and nurtures talent in SET. This approach contributes in increasing the human capital in the critical areas of Science, Engineering and Technology.

This is being achieved through

  • Our consistent effort to expose learners to international events such as the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) and the Australian Youth Science Forum;
  • Hosting of Science Focus Week for top learners based on the Olympiad examination results;
  • Our efforts to expose learners to the SET work environment through visits to industries, science councils and higher education institutions;
  • Establishing an examination steering committee that comprises reputable professionals.
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For more enquiries

Erna Taljaard

+27 (0)12 392 9337