October 2014
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Contents / home
Physics facts
Learners show projects in India
National Science Week inspires
An ocean of opportunity
Astronomy a priority science
Accolade for GetSETgo
SAASTA wins award
Meet SAASTA's Julia Motaung
Young Science Comms' Competition
Nanotechnology Educator Workshops
New PUB newsletter launched
Water Efficient Maize for Africa
AstroEDU teaches astronomy
Candice selected for Obama's YALI
Bright future for science journalism
Science comms research chair
Tribute to Dr Mike Gaylard
Prestigious prize for Penny
Children learn environmental issues
AstroQuiz results
Nurturing SA's budding scientists
SAAO celebrates women scientists
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

National Science Week inspires

"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.

"Today's Science, Tomorrow's World"

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.

Selection of programmes

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.

P-STEM is a foundation that runs mini science fairs in rural and township communities to create awareness around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) opportunities and education in South Africa. Staff members and volunteers headed to rural Limpopo to spread the fun and excitement to the communities of Tshaulu Manzemba and Bochum by means of Funda Robotiks stands run by enthusiastic volunteers keen to demonstrate how to program and operate robots. They also launched the Funda Mathematiks programme with a special stand and competition on the everyday nature of maths through the Fibonacci Sequence. Their seasoned Young Developers and Young Scientists teams introduced the community to computers and programming, and the Geekulcha team with their Lego NXT Mindstorm robotic unit was a great hit.

The Human Genetics Department of the University of Cape Town (UCT) packed a lecture room to capacity with learners from schools they invited to their Learners' Open Day. Staff from various departments presented on a range of fascinating topics such as Why appearance matters: Why looks always have been and still are important to people; The Sherlock Effect - Forensics, Genetics, Crime; Genetics and Science Entrepreneurship; The Patients' Perspective; and the DNA Project.

Students with lab coats and gloves run an experiment with guidance from lab scientists
Shareefa Dalvie (PhD candidate) gives students an introduction to Genetics

Students about to embark on a mock experiment focusing on diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Cell Biology and Sports Medicine scientists give students insight into injuries related to activity

Volunteer Alice Mahlatjie exhibited and managed the Mathematics Relay Competition for learners as well as Mathematics games at SAASTA's Observatory in Johannesburg.