"Events such as National Science Week (NSW) are aimed at boosting interest in scientific and technological development and innovation, helping the country transform into a knowledge-based economy," said Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, speaking at the launch of NSW at the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein on 2 August.
The NSW, managed by SAASTA on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology, is an annual week-long event aimed at celebrating the role that science, mathematics, engineering and technology play in everyday life and encouraging more young people to follow careers in these fields. It attracts thousands of members of the public, learners and educators to workshops, science shows and exhibitions at universities, schools and science centres countrywide.
Altogether 76 organisations, including science centres, schools, science councils, higher education institutions and museums participated in NSW 2014, bringing the world of science to the public of South Africa.
The annual focus week is in its 15th year, and took place under the theme "Today's Science, Tomorrow's World". Over 4 000 people including learners, educators and parents, as well as a delegation from the Beijing Association for Science and Technology in China, converged on the UFS campus to experience "science at work", featuring an array of exciting science activities including a sky-viewing opportunity at the nearby Boyden Observatory.
"Our success depends on whether our country is ready to harness the advantage of large numbers of young people who are able and willing to work. This is where the provision of education becomes an important resource in ensuring that our young people are well prepared and equipped with knowledge and skills to handle life," Minister Pandor said.
"Every aspect of life is touched by science, and with a more vibrant approach to teaching Maths and Science, great potential can be unlocked among our young people, impacting on quality of life in the future," said Dr Choice Makhetha, UFS Vice-Rector: External Relations at the launch.
A small selection of the programmes on offer during this year's NSW focus week follows below. Also see the articles on programmes presented by the Square Kilometre Array Africa and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.