The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) aims to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering and technology in South Africa. SAASTA is business Unit of the National Research Foundation.

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The Young Science Communicator’s Competition (YSCC) specifically challenges young scientists and researchers between the ages of 18 and 35 to communicate their world to a larger audience beyond their scientific community. Scientists are by nature passionate people. This passion can be reflected in the way stories are told, that engage an audience and excite them about the science at their core.

SAASTA recognises different media to convey science through different categories.

The 2013 competition categories were:

WRITTEN NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
Traditional modes of communication like print media have the potential to reach a wide readership. Science-related articles that engage the public can have a significant impact on awareness and interest in the science and related issues. 

The newspaper article should be in plain English on any science-related subject, preferably in the author’s own research field, to inform and entertain. Articles should be kept to 700 words or less..

RADIO SCRIPT
Radio is a very powerful means of communication. It has far-reaching potential into areas where other means of communication may be limited, such as rural communities. The medium of radio allows the listener to conjure up the “theatre of the mind” through sound alone.

Radio scripts should be of approximately 800-1000 words on any scientific or science-related subject, preferably in the author’s own research field, for a 5-minute radio insert.  The script should incorporate a maximum of 3 voices only. The top two radio scripts will be produced and pre-recorded for broadcast.

NEW MEDIA: VIRAL VIDEO
As a new communication tool, viral video has the potential to have an impressive impact. Popular viral videos spread at great speed through email or websites. This tool taps into the entertainment value of science.

Viral video communication pieces should be in mpeg video format. This is a new category being introduced for 2013, to incorporate new technologies for communication. Your piece could range from video footage of an experiment, to a live recorded presentation, to a video animation, to a powerpoint presentation or anything the mind can conceive that can be conveyed in video format. The maximum length of video shall be 1 minute; the message must be clear, concise and well-defined.

2012/13 winners:

The overall winner of this round of the Young Science Communicator's Competition is Dr Leon Van Eck of Stellenbosch University. The entry that has recieved the most votes (68 out of 106) on Facebook and is therefore the "People's Choice", is Bongani Thabethe's radio script "Who could have thought there could be room at the bottom (thinking in the nanometer dimension)".

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2009/10 winners:

  • Overall Winners:

    Mathilde van der Merwe of Stellenbosch University for her article In memory of a snail, and Melissa Boonzaaier of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for an audio script on the sea turtles of South Africa.
  • Runners-up:

    The two runners-up are Subhashin Pillay of Wits for her article on the science of romantic love, and Sediqa Khatieb of the SA National Biodiversity Institute for her audio script on Geographical Information Systems.

  • Special winners:

    The competition this time also had special prizes for the best article and script on genetics and related research in South Africa. The prizes were awarded to Dionne Shepherd of the University of Cape Town for her article on epigenetics, which she calls “the soft side of evolutionary theory”, and Lauren Brom of the University of Pretoria for her script titled Getting to the root of stem cells.

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