October 2015
Contents / home
Global science engagement project
National Science Week activities
Science breaks barriers
Hydrogen fuel cell technology
Science that no classroom can teach
SAASTA empowers community
New CEO takes over reins at NRF
Hydrogen awareness website
Work shadowing at SAIAB
Field school for students
Meet Dr Zikhona Tetana
Improving technology education
Weather stations in schools
Street science
Space science appreciation
International Year of Light
Monitoring river health
Sasol Techno X prizes
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Street science

  Learners pepper the postdocs with questions at the street science stand
Science outreach is often focused on learners in classrooms, visiting museums, on TV or in news articles. It is not every day people get to have a chat with their local scientist right there on the street.

"I'm a scientist, ask me a question"

Recently, postdocs from the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the University of Cape Town set up a street science stand at the Langa Open Streets Festival in Cape Town and invited passers-by to ask questions. A sign on the stand read: "I'm a scientist, ask me a question."

The festival was packed with people from all parts of Cape Town and the street science stand was one of the most popular spots. School learners peppered the scientists with questions about how you would tell the difference between soil from Earth and from Mars, why it's winter in Cape Town but summer in Europe, where modern humans come from, how a fart works and why the grass is green.

Adults were more cautious in approaching the stand, often listening in on the conversations with the school learners and then blushing when asked if they had any questions.

Many of the people who stopped by the street science stand said it was really great to be able to chat with local scientists in an informal setting and to see that scientists don't all hang out in white coats all week.

To all my fellow scientists out there: Next time you're bored, pop out onto the street with a sign like "I'm a scientist, ask me a question" and prepare yourself for some really interesting conversations.

Christopher Trisos, Postdoc, SAEON Fynbos Node