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Virtual reality and ocean dynamics at Science Forum South Africa

By Thulwaneng Mashifane and Thomas Mtontsi, SAEON Egagasini Node
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The 2018 Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) was held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria from 12 to 14 December 2018.

SFSA2018 was a celebration of science, technology and innovation where conversations were ignited about science on the middle ground between academics, policy and popular science engagement.

The event attracted more than 4 000 participants from 88 countries, 131 international speakers and 73 exhibitors who showcased their innovations and ignited conversations about science.

On invitation by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Thomas Mtontsi and Thulwaneng Mashifane from the Egagasini Node represented SAEON at the NRF exhibition stand at SFSA. Participants who visited the stand were entertained with virtual reality headsets and the ever-popular magic planet video globe and were engaged on the work that is done by SAEON’s Marine Offshore Node.

A range of topics from an Earth System Science point of view were covered through the interactive Magic Planet. The participants, mostly from inland, enjoyed the virtual undersea experience.

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Visitors to the NRF/SAEON stand were entertained with virtual reality goggles and engaged on a range of Earth System Science topics using the interactive Magic Planet         

Thomas Mtontsi, science engagement officer at the SAEON Egagasini Node, facilitates a virtual reality moment where a little boy experiences a rare underwater moment                                   

Thulwaneng Mashifane, a postdoctoral research fellow at SAEON's Egagasini Node, responds to questions from the media on climate science and policy                                 

Engaging with the media

The SAEON duo also had an opportunity to interact with the media through interviews and discussed research on climate change and policy. Thulwaneng’s ocean modelling research on greenhouse gas emissions in the Benguela and its relevance in climate science and policy was highlighted in the interviews. The importance of the NRF as a funding body of innovative research and the SFSA was also discussed in the interview.

Lerato Mpetshwa, who coordinated the exhibition, led the NRF delegation in discussing the role of the NRF in science research. Funding opportunities for researchers and the outputs of the research facilities across the country were some of the key elements in the message relayed to visitors.

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