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SciFest 2011 - Science across cultures

Thomas Mtontsi holds learners entranced with his explanation of ocean dynamics, the impact of the oceans on SA, and natural disasters such as the tsunami which recently hit Japan (Pictures: Nozi Hambaze)
Captive audience. SAEON’s Science Education Outreach Coordinator, Sibongile Mokoena, inspires the women scientists of the future (Picture: Thomas Mtontsi)
- Thomas Mtontsi and Nozi Hambaze, Education Outreach Officers, SAEON Elwandle and Egagasini Nodes


SAEON’s science education outreach programme participated in Scifest Africa - the biggest science festival in Africa - for the fifth consecutive year.

The festival, which took place in Grahamstown in May, attracted more than 65 000 visitors, mostly learners from all the provinces in South Africa but also from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe. Learners were inspired and motivated by the wide range of exhibitions, lectures and workshops.

This year’s theme, “Science across cultures”, focused on what makes us human, what makes us different, the contribution of different cultures to science and science education, and science practiced across cultures. A number of foreign countries, such as China and France were invited to showcase how their cultures contribute to science.

Scifest Africa also formed part of the official celebrations of the UNESCO International Year of Chemistry 2011.

Magic Planet

SAEON took its place among the fifty organisations exhibiting at the festival. The SAEON Egagasini Node’s Magic Planet proved to be a big drawcard and throngs of learners representing a range of age groups and cultures visited the SAEON stand.

Thomas Mtontsi held learners entranced with his explanation of ocean dynamics, the impact of the oceans on SA, and natural disasters such as the tsunami which recently hit Japan. “SciFest provided a valuable opportunity to illustrate the importance of long-term monitoring and the significant role that learners can play in this,” says Thomas. “With the Argo data available today kids from all schools can follow changes in our oceans and other areas of interest.”

Nozi Hambase selected exciting workshops for Grade nine learners from Grahamstown schools who participate in the SAEON science education outreach programme. The workshops were aimed at sparking the learners’ interest in science and exposing them to careers in science and technology.

Wonders of science

Says Nozi: “Scifest Africa offers seven days of scientific exploration. These young kids had their week filled with the wonders of science by visiting the exhibitions and attending the lectures and workshops on offer.”

As one of the learners commented: “WOW!!!! What an experience! I enjoyed every minute of it. I was born and raised in Grahamstown and have been coming to Scifest just for exhibitions. I didn’t know that there were lots more happening behind the scenes. I would like to thank SAEON for the wonderful exposure.

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