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. Read more
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. Read more
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.
Registration now open for SA’s ‘Pop Idols of Science’
Are you South Africa’s next great scientist? FameLab® South Africa 2017 kicks off and you can register to enter as a contestant for the South African leg of the international competition dubbed, the ‘Pop Idols of Science’.
Entries NOW open. http://www.britishcouncil.org.za/famelab/enter-competition (Link will open in a new tab)
This year’s competition will launch on 8 December 2016 with the first heat at the second annual Science Forum South Africa (http://www.sfsa.co.za/) which takes place at the CSIR International Convention Centre, in Pretoria. This heat will be preceded by a workshop and preliminary selections on 5 and 6 December 2016. Participants selected at the prelims will proceed to compete at the launch heat on the 8th December 2016.
Thereafter, heats will be taking place around the country. Watch the press and the competition website for more information.
Who can enter?
The competition is open to anyone aged 21 to 35 and working in or studying technology, engineering, medicine, biology, chemistry, physics or maths. This includes private and public sector employees.
Entrance to the SFSA and FameLab® heats is free and open to the public and we invite all science enthusiasts, young and old, to come and cheer on their favourites at the FameLab® SFSA heat. Interested participants can register here. Registration is open.
Participants are offered training by Jive Media Africa to enhance their science communication skills and to enable them to present their science topic to a panel of expert judges in just three minutes. Presentations are judged on content, clarity, and charisma and must be original and scientifically accurate while being accessible to a public audience. Contestants who make it through the heats, win master class training with an international trainer and may progress to the semi-finals and finals of the competition, which will be held in April and May 2017 respectively. The FameLab® South Africa winner will go on to compete against winners from over 30 countries on an international stage, at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom.
Jive Media Africa creates innovative, cutting edge communications; grabbing attention and conveying crucial messages in accessible ways. Jive Media Africa is an award-winning agency, which has provided media and communications services to the research sector over the past decade.
FameLab® was started in 2005 in the UK by Cheltenham Science Festival and has quickly become established as a diamond model for successfully identifying, training and mentoring scientists and engineers to share their enthusiasm for their subjects with the public. It is implemented in over 30 countries, including the UK, USA, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, Qatar and Kazakhstan to name a few. FameLab® South Africa is implemented in partnership between the British Council, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), and Science Communication Agency Jive Media Africa.
More than 5000 researchers have taken part in the global competition, resulting in a vibrant network of highly skilled individuals engaging international audiences and each other. FameLab® visit: http://famelab.org.
Hip Hop Science Spaza celebrated National Science Week 2016. The theme this year is Science for Sustainable Development and Improved Quality of Life. Hip Hop Science Spaza focused on water, food security and nutrition.
Learners from Mlungisi Secondary School in Taylor’s Halt, Pietermaritzburg, met up with food security expert, Mbali Gwacela, hydrologist Lungi Lembede and Zandile Ngcobo who is a Nutrition Advisor at Taylor’s Halt Clinic. After learning more about these three areas of science, the learners composed songs to convey an important message about sustainable living. The songs were performed for their parents and the community at the Hip Hop Science Spaza event.
Five learners from the school also joined the Science Spaza team in Cape Town where they were asked to perform at the launch of National Science Week 2016, hosted at the University of the Western Cape.
The interviews and songs were professionally recorded and aired on community radio stations across the country during National Science Week 2016 (08 -13 August 2016). To listen to the interviews and songs go to Sound Cloud and you can watch the Hip Hop Science Spaza NSW2016 video on YouTube.
Visit www.sciencespaza.org for resources with topics covered during National Science Week 2016.
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, go to: www.saasta.ac.za
SAMA award winning Hip Hop artist iFani jetted in to KZN to collaborate with star scientists and learners from Edendale Technical High School to kick off Hip Hop Science Spaza 2015.
Learners, who had been preparing and practicing their songs on light, met up with leading SA scientists from the CSIR National Laser Centre and the International Square Kilometre Array project before putting their songs under the spotlight.
Hip Hop Science Spaza is celebrating the International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies – raising awareness of the importance of light in our lives – including its role in scientific discovery and numerous applications which affect our lives form data transmission to health diagnostics.
Also featured were the “Ionic Bonds”, Durban based science learners and runners-up in the 2014 Hip Hop Science Spaza competition along with beatboxer Lungelo. iFani was accompanied by up-and-coming Hip Hop artist, KZN’s Lex LaFoy who reflected on the role of the social sciences and the power of Hip Hop to change lives.
To find links to the interviews and the music go to www.sciencespaza.org
The event was featured on SABC’s Morning Live as well as Hectic Nine-9 (SABC2) during National Science Week. You could pick up the interviews and recordings on community radio stations nationally or online every day during National Science Week 2015.
The Hip Hop Science Spaza Project is a national collaboration between popular music artists and learners in science clubs around South Africa to make science accessible to the general public. See www.sciencespaza.org. Science Spaza is an initiative of Jive Media Africa.
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). Find out more at www.saasta.ac.za
SAMA award winning rap artist, iFani, jetted into Durban on Saturday, 19 July 2014 for a music event with a difference – the Hip Hop Science Spaza! The BAT Centre (Durban) was the laboratory in which hip hop and science were combined to boost science education with the addition of a little rap.
Grade 10 – 12 learners from Chesterville and Umlazi engaged in practical science activities and then turned new knowledge into rap songs. The event culminated in a hip hop battle for the best science rap. The surprise ingredient was iFani, the hottest name in SA Rap who this year won a SAMA for best rap album and who is incidentally also a computer scientist.
Being the International Year of Crystallography, the workshop started with a lesson delivered by Dr Sphamandla Sithebe, an organic chemistry researcher and lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Learners then developed rhyming lines and raps working with Music Communication specialist and creative director at Jive Media Africa, Hilary Kromberg and KZN based musicians Rooted Souls.
To screams of surprise and delight, iFani arrived on Saturday morning ahead of the local battle. He spent an hour with the stunned learners giving them performance tips and talking to them about his journey from humble beginnings to stardom – answering personal questions about his career as a scientist and musician, as well as his grandmother, Mama Mthembu, who raised him as a single parent and passed away in 2010.
“iFani means ‘not the same’ and Science Spaza is presenting science information in new ways. We’re excited to be collaborating with iFani to bring science to the people – it’s a great partnership.” said Robert Inglis, Director of Jive Media Africa and co-founder of the Science Spaza initiative.
This year celebrates the International Year of Crystallography, 100 years since the discovery of X-Ray crystallography – an advance that allowed scientists to see the crystal structure of molecules. Crystallography is a wide-ranging discipline, which impacts on nearly every field of science and technology.
The two day workshop was filmed for Hectic Nine – 9 the popular youth show on SABC 2, for National Science Week 2014 from the 2nd to the 9th August. National Science Week is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology administered by SAASTA, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement.
Click here to view the gallery of photographs