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Science Beyond Borders Festival: Breaking down barriers between science and community

By Raymond Khoza and Omphile Khutsoane, SAEON
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Every year, Science Tube hosts a Science Beyond Borders Festival across rural communities in South Africa “to teach children that science is easy”.

This year’s festival was held at Kuruman in the Northern Cape in February 2017. During the three-day event, learners from grades 4 to 12 spent quality time exploring the interactive exhibits.

SAEON's Arid Lands Node was one of the exhibitors at the festival.

Science beyond borders

The programme was officially opened by Chrisencia Moatshe, manager of the Mothibistad Science Centre. She highlighted the importance of the festival in assisting learners to make informed career choices and encouraged them to pay attention to the exhibitors and presenters discussing the many and varied career opportunities available to them.

“This is also a wonderful opportunity to seek clarity on recent scientific developments,” she told the learners. She thanked Science Tube for the opportunity to host the festival for the second time in five years, as well as the science and engineering organisations participating in the programme.

Phistos Maanda, Science Tube floor manager, explained that the purpose of the festival was to reach out to communities as a way of breaking down barriers between science and community.

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Omphile Khutsoane, education officer at SAEON's Arid Lands Node (left), identifies the biomes in which SAEON researchers are active (Picture: Raymond Khoza)

“You can be a scientist too” – Omphile tells learners more about a number of careers available in environmental science (Picture: Raymond Khoza)

What the learners had to say

The participating learners found the festival both exciting and motivating. Kitso Thupae, a grade 10 learner at Pitso Jantjie High School in Moshaweng Rural in Northern Cape, shared his thoughts:

“I feel so happy to have met with the SAEON exhibitors. Today’s presentation made me realise that there are many more opportunities in science and engineering than I was aware of. I was amazed to learn that environmental change can be monitored; the only aspect I knew that could be monitored was the weather.

“I never realised that research can be conducted on the coastal zone and oceans surrounding South Africa. I really enjoyed the presentation and would like to encourage SAEON to visit rural schools around South Africa to inform learners about career opportunities in environmental science.”

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