April 2014
Contents / home
FameLabSA 2014
Science Lens winners
Young, innovative and gifted
Intern receives Fellowship in Paris
Transformation in marine science
Looking for the brainiacs of yesteryear
Skies alive with space activities
Training the trainers
On your marks ... Get SET Go!
Schools debates advisory committee
Science community volunteers
The science of giving back
New science communication resource
Bringing nanotech to the disabled
Meet media guru Daryl Ilbury
Water World @ Scifest Africa 2014
Exploring marine science
Sharks, vegetables and alien fish
SAIAB cares
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Bloemfontein skies alive with space activities

Water rockets blasted off into the sky, telescopes were devised from affordable material, the stars were studied in an inflatable planetarium and at an observatory, and learners, educators and members of the public had the opportunity to interact with South Africa's next space traveller, Mandla Maseko.

The Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Michael Masutha (left) and Mandla Maseko - the first black African expected to go into space in 2015 - participated in the Space Science Outreach Programme at the University of the Free State
Africa's next space traveller, Mandla Maseko, and admirers at the Space Science Open Day

All this, and much more happened at the Space Science Open Day organised by SAASTA in Bloemfontein on 1 March this year. The activities targeted learners from Grade 9 to 12 from urban, rural, private and public schools, their educators and members of the public.

Space Science Awareness Campaign

Space Science open days form part of the Department of Science and Technology's (DST) Space Science Awareness Campaign. The events, which are held twice a year in different provinces of South Africa, are aimed at raising awareness of South Africa's advances in space science and promoting the benefits to society.

The activities in Bloemfontein included lectures by prominent South African space scientists and exhibitions showcasing space science and technology. These ranged from a project to build the world's largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array to the construction of South Africa's first micro-satellite, built by students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology/French South Africa Institute of Technology.

Other exhibitors included SAASTA; Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory; the South African National Space Agency; the Agricultural Research Council; Marcom Aeronautics; Denel Dynamics and the South African Weather Service. The wide range of resource materials distributed by exhibitors demonstrated a healthy balance between scientific information, career opportunities and information on the involvement of South African companies in space science and technology.

The magic of chemistry

Participants were also treated to a "magic show" presented by the Chemistry Department of the University of the Free State, which proved to be one of the most exciting parts of the day's events for learners.

"The Open Day activities created considerable excitement among the attendees around the concept of space; the history of space exploration; the scientific principles behind rocketry; the uses of rockets and satellites; the importance of Earth observations; the various applications of space sciences; and the different careers available in this emerging field," says Anacletta Koloko of SAASTA.

Mrs Hazel Motsoeneng, Director: Motheo Education District, encouraged learners to work hard so that they can follow careers of their choice.

"The highlight of the day was inspiring presentations by the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Michael Masutha and Mandla Maseko who, in 2015, will be the first black African to go into space," says Anacletta.

Mandla shared his exciting experiences in the Axe Apollo Space Academy competition, a challenging event that included skydiving, aptitude tests and building and launching a rocket with the learners attending the event.