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National Science Week - promoting science and technology literacy

By Zonke Gumede, Intern, SAEON Egagasini Node
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Nozipiwe Hambaze, education officer at SAEON’s Elwandle Node (R), tells the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, about SAEON’s environmental science education programme which involves engagement with adopted schools where learners are encouraged to follow a science career path

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Zonke Gumede (L) describes the research conducted at SAEON’s Egagasini Node where she is a DST-NRF intern

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Thomas Mtontsi, education officer at SAEON’s Egagasini Node (3-L), explains the importance of ocean observations to a group of learners

National Science Week (NSW)* celebrates science by conducting exciting science-based activities aimed at encouraging young people to consider science as a career.

The NSW programme is presented throughout the country in all nine provinces simultaneously and involves different stakeholders that initiate and run a wide range of science activities and projects. The programme includes exhibitions and competitions around a central theme. This year’s theme was “Advancing Science Tourism”.

The launch took place at Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale Campus on August 5. NSW stakeholders presented a wide range of interesting activities aimed at encouraging the target audience (mainly secondary school pupils and young people) to engage with science and technology.

Members of the public were also invited to view the fascinating exhibitions on offer by the stakeholders. Among these were several organisations that operate under the banner of the National Research Foundation (NRF), such as the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), iThemba LABS and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

VIP guests visit SAEON stand

Distinguished guests at the event included the Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle and the MEC of Education, Mr Mandla Makupula. The Minister, Premier and MEC inspected the exhibition stands, which led to a close interaction and sharing of information between the stakeholders and their VIP guests.

At the SAEON exhibition, the Minister requested staff to explain the mandate of SAEON to the ministerial party. Zonke Gumede (Egagasini Node), Nozipiwe Hambaze (Elwandle Node) and Thomas Mtontsi (Egagasini Node) took turns explaining the work that SAEON is spearheading at the Egagasini and Elwandle nodes, which includes the study of our oceans, ocean observations and collection of long-term data to monitor the changes in our oceans.

Zonke, Nozipiwe and Thomas further explained SAEON’s science engagement programme. This involves engagement with adopted schools where monitoring teams are selected and learners are encouraged to follow a science career path. Interesting science activities on offer for learners participating in the programme include the installation of weather stations at schools to enable and encourage learners to access and analyse weather data. The young would-be scientists are also introduced to environmental science by means of SAEON’s biannual science camps.

Learners attended the exhibition in great numbers to view and participate in the interesting science activities on display.

* National Science Week, an annual programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is coordinated by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA).

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