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Scifest Africa 2016 - “A matter of time”

By Amos Nchabeleng, former DST-NRF Science Communication Intern, SAEON
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The theme for this year, “A Matter of Time”, challenged presenters and learners to explore the creation and measurement of time (Picture: Facebook/Scifest Africa)

Scifest Africa, the continent’s biggest annual science festival, is aimed at engaging the public in interactive events that raise awareness about science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation in an informal and fun way.

The main purpose of Scifest Africa is to introduce young people to the exciting world of science and technology, and to encourage them to pursue careers in these fields.

This year’s event, which was held in Grahamstown in March, drew more than 58 000 visitors, mostly learners.

The theme for this year, “A matter of time”, was selected in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Scifest Africa and explored the creation, measurement, depiction, experience and end of time.

The science festival was officially opened by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor. In her address, she commended Scifest Africa for succeeding in making science and its role in the world visible and accessible. Minister Pandor said science engagement activities such as Scifest were the best possible way to introduce young people to the exciting world of science and technology.

“You live in a time in which there are immense possibilities for all young people,” she told the learners. “I hope you will use the festival to learn about science careers and to think about contributing to building a great South Africa.”

SAEON and the Magic Planet

SAEON exhibited at the 1820 Settlers Monument and at Water World, hosted by the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). The Settlers Monument was packed with thousands of learners who had come to spend days to ensure that they do not miss out on anything at Scifest.

The SAEON stand attracted a lot of attention. Learners and teachers asked many questions about the different biomes where SAEON is engaged, as well as SAEON’s Magic Planet.

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Learners experience the wonders of science (Picture: Facebook/Scifest Africa)

SAEON’s Magic Planet attracted large numbers of visitors (Picture: Amos Nchabeleng)

The Magic Planet once again drew large numbers of visitors, who learnt more about our solar system, ocean currents and earth dynamics. It displays a range of natural phenomena such as volcanoes, hurricanes and shifting of tectonic plates and is an ideal tool to accelerate and support integration of environmental sciences into the school science curriculum. It is of particular interest to learners who are studying Geography and Physical Science.

Bird Game

Learners were also thrilled by the Bird Game at the SAEON stand, where they discovered more about bird identification and the habitats of various bird species in Southern Africa while honing their computer operating skills.

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Learners were fascinated by the Bird Game at the SAEON stand, which exposed them to the exciting world of bird identification and habitats (Picture: Amos Nchabeleng)

The laser show held the audience spellbound as they were transported in time through ancient scientific and technological discoveries to modern inventions (Picture: Facebook/Scifest Africa)

A spellbinding laser show proved to be an appropriate conclusion to Scifest Africa 2016 in keeping with its theme, “A matter of time”. The audience were captivated as they were transported in time through ancient scientific and technological inventions to modern inventions.

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