FameLab SA winner, Emmie Chiyindiko from the University of the Free State, put South African science on a global platform when she spent the week at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK, ahead of the FameLab International finals. 

The science-filled week began with a science communication training session with head FameLab trainer, Malcolm Love before participants took to the stage to share their research.

Malaysia’s Siti Khayriyyah Binti Mohd Hanafiah became the 2018 FameLab International Champion – taking the prize from reigning champions, South Africa. Congratulations!

Not just a competition, FameLab aims to enrich the participants through exposure to new research and ideas. During the festival, the group was shown an exhibition on the history of humanoid robots, heard a talk about the evolution of communication from the perspective of psychology, linguistics and primatology, got the low-down on covert, off-grid tactics used by the police, and enjoyed a musical performance with image projection and video representation of the fundamental processes within living cells.

No doubt each finalist will return home inspired, equipped with excellent science communication and public speaking skills and a host of new friends across the world.

The next FameLab SA Winner could be from YOUR organisation! Click here to host this international competition in the year ahead > https://www.britishcouncil.org.za/sites/default/files/famelab_eoi_2018_a4_4pp_digital_0.pdf

FameLab is an international competition by Cheltenham Festivals designed to inspire, motivate and develop young scientists and engineers to actively engage with the public. With over 30 participating countries, it has been dubbed the ‘Pop Idols of Science’! FameLab South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement together with research communication specialists Jive Media Africa.

Creating conversations between science and society to address the sustainable development goals was the focus of the 2018 FameLab South Africa final held at the Future Earth conference at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.

Emmie Chiyindiko, a Masters student at the University of the Free State, won the title of FameLab South Africa champion with a talk which had the audience engaged from the beginning. She used the analogy of a relationship match-maker to explain the role of catalysis in food, water and energy production. She will travel to the international competition in the United Kingdom in June to represent South Africa.

Runners-up, Sebabatso Maifadi from the University of South Africa and Buhle Buyana from the University of Fort Hare also impressed the audience and judges, linking their research to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Director of Jive Media Africa, Robert Inglis, highlighted the importance of the communication skills developed through FameLab for “having conversations about science which can ultimately lead to solutions for a more sustainable and equitable future”.

The format of the FameLab competition requires participants to present their research to a panel of expert judges within three minutes. Their talks are judged on content, clarity and charisma.

Deputy CEO of the National Research Foundation, Dr Gansen Pillay, praised the young researchers for their commitment to engaging the public in their research and will hold further discussions with all the finalists about the future of science in South Africa.

Anisa Khan, at the British Council, expressed her delight that there were so many women among the finalists, saying, “We must ensure that all voices are part of the science conversation.”

Do you want to host this international competition in the year ahead? Click here > Expression of Interest Form

Huge congratulations to the 2018 finalists:
– Nyasha Chimhandamba (finalist) – University of Cape Town
– Nobuhle Mweli (semi-finalist) – South African Environmental Observation Network
– Darryl Herron (finalist) and Khavharendwe Rambau (semi-finalist) – Science Forum South Africa
– Brian Rathabe (semi-finalist) – University of Limpopo
– Emmie Chiyindiko (finalist and 2018 winner) – University of the Free State
– Sylvia Mokuoane (semi-finalist) – Central University of Technology
– Bonisiwe Seshabela (semi-finalist) and Sebabatso Maifadi (finalist and runner-up) – University of South Africa
– Thlangelani Nghondzweni (semi-finalist) – Tshwane University of Technology
– Buhle Buyana (finalist and runner-up) – University of Fort Hare
– Sinethemba Makhanya (finalist) and Olaperi Okuboyejo (finalist) – University of the Witwatersrand
– Puleng Maleko-Boyce (finalist) – Nelson Mandela University

FameLab is an international competition by Cheltenham Festivals designed to inspire, motivate and develop young scientists and engineers to actively engage with the public. With over 30 participating countries, it has been dubbed the ‘Pop Idols of Science’! FameLab South Africa is made possible by a partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement together with research communication specialists Jive Media Africa.

Stories simplify communication. Through emotional connection and simple language, stories can make complex information relatable – resulting in dialogue and transformation.

To share experiences in storytelling and to gain insight from other communicators and researchers, Jive Media Africa presented a number of papers at the Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference 2018 which took place in Dunedin, New Zealand. Jive Media Africa’s work in this area includes comics, music and film among others, bringing researchers and the public together through participatory methods to create compelling media to transform the world.

Presentations included:

  1. Participatory approaches to science communication. A workshop exploring approaches from Paulo Freire.
  2. #TheArtofResearch – Collaborations in art and science with comics, music and film.
  3. Comics as a means of science engagement – a poster presentation on the use of cartoons to explore the invisible world of nanotechnology.
  4. Stories can save lives: in their own words…experiences of living with HIV.
  5. Researching marginalised groups with research – a workshop exploring barriers to engagement.

Reaching large audiences with important information is a challenge faced by many government departments. Carefully considered policies can fail at implementation if key audiences remain disengaged.

This was the difficulty faced by the South African Department of Environmental Affairs when engaging stakeholders about the Biodiversity Economy. The Biodiversity Economy presents opportunities for people to improve their lives and create wealth from nature, whilst ensuring its sustainability for future generations.

The DEA recognised the power of storytelling through comics and cartoons – where complex messaging can be conveyed in exciting and engaging ways. Jive Media Africa, with over a decade’s experience in science engagement using comics, supported the department’s  vision, ensuring accuracy of messages, presented in simple language with compelling graphics.

Getting creative is crucial when it comes to conveying important, yet complex, messages to a wide range of audiences. Stories, and particularly comics, are an excellent medium for grabbing attention from audiences who might ordinarily shy away from new information. The posters, which combine colourful images and text lay out a narrative and effectively take readers on a journey. Along the way, they pick up key information, and start to see how they fit into the picture.

The Biodiversity Economy posters are available here:

Building Business from Biodiversity
Living Treasures
There’s Wealth in Wildlife 

They are shared with Creative Commons licences so you are welcome to copy, print and share them.

Don’t be ignored. Talk to us and find the perfect medium for your message.

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) lives the spirit of ‘engaged research’ at their Sweetwaters office in kwaMpumuza, South Africa. Jive Media Africa is proud to have produced a film that showcases the HSRC’s Sweetwaters site. Here, in the heart of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the HSRC undertakes ground-breaking research and society-led development efforts from within the Mpumuza community. The film serves as a communication tool which the HSRC can use to help them share their experiences and learnings with the wider research community.

“Thanks Jive Media! It was a lot of fun making this short film showcasing our work over the past 10 years in the Sweetwaters community.” – Dr Heidi van Rooyen: Executive Director, HSRC Sweetwaters

“We enjoyed working with you at our office and in our community. I strongly believe that everybody working with Jive, you leave them smiling, like us. Keep up the good work. It is easy and joyful working with you and I hope that we will meet again very soon. Thank you so much.” Sifiso Qwabe: Project Facilitator, HSRC Sweetwaters

Find out more about the HSRC Sweetwaters office here

Community Engagement is a key aspect of the work of the Human Sciences Research Council’s Sweetwaters office. The research centre is situated in the peri-urban Vulindlela District and undertakes social science research on a range of issues affecting local communities. The learnings from these communities can be further shared and applied in other settings.

In order to better understand the needs of this community, the HSRC Sweetwaters office embarked on a photovoice project. Photovoice is a participatory action research strategy primarily used in research involving marginalised communities. Photography is combined with other techniques, (e.g. critical dialogue) to encourage participants to reflect on and speak to community concerns. The images (and by extension the voices) can create awareness, engagement and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders and decision makers.

The intention of the project, was to work with vulnerable youth from the Sweetwaters area to gain insights into the challenges and risks faced by the community, especially as they are experienced by young men and women.

Research communication specialists, Jive Media Africa was asked to assist with the production and facilitation of a number of community events, designed to disseminate the outcomes of the project. Two events were held, an exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery, curated by the Centre for Visual Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a gathering of residents from the Edendale area which formed part of the study.

In order to showcase the work of the photographers in these different settings, Jive Media Africa adjusted the delivery mechanism for each setting. For the gallery exhibition, the images were printed and mounted individually. These images have subsequently been sent to the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban. For the event targeting young people and residents of the study area, which took place in the Caluza Sports Centre, the images were printed onto long vinyl banners. These banners will be used in an ongoing tour to schools to continue to engage young people in discussions about issues of importune to them.

In addition, Jive Media Africa has created a portfolio of these images in printed form.

Science Spaza, an initiative of Jive Media Africa, recently celebrated National Science Week with learners from the Science Spaza club at Zibukezulu Technical High School. The theme for this year was “Science Rocks!”, a response to the National Science Week theme of Science for Sustainable Tourism. There are numerous tourism sites in South Africa related to rocks – because they can tell us such wonderful stories. So we we explored three aspects of science relating to rocks: palaeontology, archaeology and geology.

Learners were introduced to these science field,  by three South African experts on a trip to the Kamberg Rock Art Centre. Dr Nonhle Vilakazi is a palaeo-herpetologist from the University of South Africa. Dr Thakane Ntoli, is a geologist with the Council for Geosciences and Dr Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu is an archaeologist at the University of Pretoria. Science Spaza also hosted several interactive workshops with the learners that included fun activities and a chance for them to write and record their own songs about rock art, fossils and geology. You can hear these special-feature tracks on the Science Spaza Soundcloud channel along with interviews with the scientists.  The series was recorded for television and broadcast on Hectic Nine-9 during National Science Week. To end the celebrations with a bang, the learners performed their unique songs in a concert for their families and community.

Find out more about Science Rocks! and check out the latest edition of Spaza Space, the official Newspaper of the Science Spaza programme. You can also do the fun activities on the accompanying worksheets exclusively themed for National Science Week 2017.

National Science Week is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, managed through the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). For more information, visit www.saasta.ac.za

Researchers are engaging the public on the #ScienceOfSex through community radio – and they are doing so at the Centre of Excellence (CoE) Directors Forum to showcase the centre’s commitment to reaching the public with research. Jive Media Africa has provided strategic communications support and media production services to assist with setting up the recording, and mobilising audiences to pose questions to be answered by the health researchers. The broadcast took place at Nelson Mandela University in the Eastern Cape.

Over the two days of the forum, four radio shows on topics related to gender and family were recorded. The content for the recordings centred around a number of topics in sexual and reproductive health, including male circumcision, father absence, intimate partner violence and sexual orientation and gender identity. The Centre of Excellence partnered with Khanya Community radio from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape and Madibaz Radio, the campus radio station of Nelson Mandela University.

The shows will be broadcast by the radio stations and will be made available as podcasts online. The interactive stand foregrounded students and researchers (with grants from the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development) who communicate science findings through community radio. Questions and comments were solicited via the parent radio stations and social media. During the shows, the presenters engaged visitors, particularly high school learners, attending the exhibition. Visit the Centre of Excellence in Human Development for ongoing updates.


Feziwe Hani from Khanya FM and Elvis Munatswa from Wits University discuss #ScienceOfSex at Nelson Mandela University


Researchers from @CoEHuman engage learners at the CoE Directors Forum in Port Elizabeth


CoE Human Director Linda Richter discusses health research with learners at the CoE Directors Forum





A palpable chemistry fills the East Rand township of Tsakane as 60 young scientists from 40 countries congregate with enthusiastic young South Africans. The purpose of this meeting? To explore strategies for science outreach and engagement. The result? Inspiration, hope and valuable new perspectives on old challenges.

It is a typical winter day on the East Rand and dodging potholes on dusty streets en route from their conference venue fills 60 young scientists with a sense of uncertainty. However, upon arrival at the African School for Excellence, the excitement is tangible: 50 smartly dressed members from two independent Science Spaza clubs have long awaited this visit.

The delegates are representatives from National Young Academies of Science from over 40 countries in SA for the Third Worldwide Meeting of the Young Academies of Science, a conference aimed at fostering global cooperation and networking amongst young scientists. A number of questions are on their minds, which have triggered this outreach and engagement with young science learners: Where are the spaces for scientists to engage with the public? How can scientists talk to young people to inspire them towards careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)? And how can they, in turn, hear about the challenges young people face?

The afternoon’s meeting is the initiative of the South African Young Academy of Sciences (SAYAS), which partnered with Science Spaza, a science clubs programme to facilitate the proceedings. Soon, the air is teaming with paper planes (hands-on activities are the hallmark of the Science Spaza experience) and attendees of all ages explore the complex scientific principles at play.

The ice is broken and invigorating inter-generational discussions unfold: the older delegates ask young learners how they motivate themselves, and what their biggest obstacles are on the path to achieving their dreams. Their responses include lack of parental support for science, inadequate funding, a lack of belief in themselves and the need for clear focus.

The scientists share their experiences of overcoming these obstacles with perseverance, hard work, goal setting and choosing the right support systems. There is also important advice about avoiding risks and pitfalls – including early pregnancy.

The learners challenge the scientists on the continued development of an HIV cure, the consideration of environmental impact and the importance of remaining curious  – relevant and inspiring insights stemming from the experiences of living in under-resourced and vulnerable environments.

The insights from the Science Spaza clubs are testament to the success of the program. Science Spaza brings science directly to the public through activity-based learning resources, addressing the desperate shortage of opportunities for young people to undertake hands-on science learning in South Africa. The national network of over 150 self-initiated science clubs, an initiative of science communication agency Jive Media Africa, is an open invitation to young South Africans to form their own science clubs and receive resources and support. Science Spaza does all it can to facilitate science-society dialogue and advocates awareness and debate amongst its members in pursuit of tangible solutions.

The 3rd Worldwide Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, which took place in Johannesburg from 20 to 21 July was hosted by SAYAS, an affiliate organisation of the Academy of Science of  South Africa (ASSAf). SAYAS represents the voice of young scientists in South Africa on national and international matters and provides a platform for young scientists to influence policy decisions.

The meeting  was co-hosted with the Global Young Academy (GYA) which is a global body that represents the voice of young scientists around the world. It works to empower early-career researchers to lead international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational dialogue by developing and mobilising talent from six continents. Its purpose is to promote reason and inclusiveness in global decision-making.

As the sun drops low, Tsakane is bathed in golden light and the delegates board their busses. Many are about to embark on journeys to the other side of the world. They are taking with them the hopes and dreams of the next generation of South African scientists. Scientists and science club members are already thinking of ways to make the world a little bit better and a little bit safer, for all of us.


Dr Alastair Van Heerden, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Sweetwaters Office, posed interesting questions at the opening of the Amazwi Ethu: Speaking Back exhibition held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  What qualifies as photography art? Would it have been better to show images taken by professionals?  It was clear from the exhibition that amateur photographers are equally, if not more capable of conveying important messages about their perceptions and experiences of the world. Amazwi Ethu is one of the outcomes of a photovoice research project implemented by the HSRC Sweetwaters office. The aim of the project was to allow young people from the Sweetwaters community to raise their concerns and experiences through photography.

As research engagement specialists, Jive Media Africa was contracted by the HSRC to assist in the production of a series of community engagement events to profile this research to a wider audience. This included a public exhibition of photographs at the Centre for Visual arts (CVA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), a community meeting in Edendale and the production of aprinted catalogue.



Tel: +27 (033) 342 9380/2
Email: info@jivemedia.co.za
Address: P.O. Box 22016, Mayor’s Walk, 3208


Tel: +27 (033) 342 9380/2
Email: info@jivemedia.co.za
Address: P.O. Box 22016, Mayor’s Walk, 3208

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