Building Exhibits was a workshop run by Sci-Bono that staff enabled participants to make their own pendulum exhibit.

Science Centres from across Southern Africa discuss innovation in the Science Engagement Space

 The South African Association of Science and Technology Centres (SAASTEC) 19th conference this year had the theme of “innovation”. SAASTA’s MD, Dr Jabu Nukeri defined innovation as making changes in something that already exists by introducing new methods, ideas or products. The conference was indeed a chance for Southern Africa’s science centres to come together, discuss the work each is doing and build a network that improves science and technology literacy and education on the continent.

Prior to the conference, which ran from the evening of Monday 27 November to Thursday 28 November, SAASTA held a two-day stakeholder meeting between science centres and the DST (The Department of Science and Technology). The meeting, organised by Thandi Mtsweni, was chaired by the manager of SAASTA’s Science Awareness division, Shadrack Mkansi. SAASTA volunteer, Lesiba, and Australian volunteer, Rachel, took notes, passed around the microphones and helped with proceedings. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the implementation plans of the Science Engagement Strategy that will improve the existing reporting structures, sharing observations on the Science Centre World Summit, and more.

Through SAASTA’s programmatic support grant initiative, members from Thirty-four science centres had the funds to attend the meeting as well as the conference. The DST through SAASTA funded the conference.

SAASTA staff were also part of the conference programme, with Ms Mtsweni presenting “Innovation and Science Centres – the way to go” followed by a panel discussion on the same theme. Dr Nukeri and Joyce Khunou briefed participants on innovation programmes at SAASTA, looking at how the goals of the Science Engagement Strategy will be met through a structured approached and the support of SAASTA and the NRF network. Ms Khunou had many inspiring closing statements; reminding everyone at the conference that “we are here, and we are learning from each other. We all need to stop, look and ask, is what I am doing really working? Does it still have relevancy? We have a responsibility to assess the use of our given resources. This country has everything it needs. It’s up to us to do our job, to get to where we want to be.”