Launched on Saturday, 5 August, 2017's National Science Week was an event that saw science experiments, shows, public lectures, visits to industries and workshops running across the country. From the young to the old, there was something for everyone.
Connecting science and tourism formed the heart of the 2017 National Science Week, which is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, and coordinated by SAASTA. The theme of this nationwide science, technology and innovation festival was “Advancing science tourism”, in recognition of the United Nations' International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The theme explored the country’s numerous scientific attractions and activities, which ran from 5 to 12 August across all nine provinces.
The launch took place at the Nelson Mandela University, Missionvale campus in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, where nearly 3000 learners, educators, members of the public, and students from the university attended. Exhibitors and role models from the different organisations displayed their science equipment and offered various activities during the event. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, the keynote speaker, encouraged the learners to take responsibility for their studies and to do the best that they can as this will enable them to reinvest back into their communities and the country at large.
Amongst the other dignitaries in attendance were the Premier of the Eastern Cape Province, Phumulo Masualle, and the (then) Vice Chancellor of NMU, Professor Derrick Swartz. The DST Director-General, Dr Phil Mjwara, guided the programme. The university’s choir entertained the audience with their melodious voices, smooth moves and great beat.
The newly renamed university, which was able to display the new logo at the launch, embraced the theme of Science Tourism enthusiastically with an array of exciting events. Port Elizabeth locals were able to participate in a virtual tour of CERN where they discovered more about the Large Hadron Collider. A fun run, which took place on 29 July, focused on touring the human body. At the beginning and the end of the race, participants had their blood pressure, weight and heights checked, as well as compete in flexibility and strength competitions. This enabled participants to look at the physiological and chemical changes runners’ bodies underwent during the race.
Over 93 organisations across the country were selected and funded to provide activities during National Science Week. Daily activities were publicised on the SAASTA website to enable members of the public to select activities to attend at the different sites. A myriad of activities were implemented, such as facility tours, night-sky viewing, science shows, parachute demonstrations, science cafes, public lectures and presentations.