Science Week all about democracy

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By: Lucky Dlamini – DST/NRF-SAIAB Communications Intern

The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (@NRF_SAIAB) has once again participated in the countrywide celebration of science. National Science Week (NSW), an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), kicked off on 29 July and ended on 4 August. This year’s theme was  “Deepening our democracy through science”.  Invited to participate by the South African Environmental Observation Networks (SAEON) Elwandle Node in its NSW activities during this week, SAIAB popularised aquatic science to Grade      9-11 pupils from high schools in Port Elizabeth and the small town of Paterson.

Ferdy Jacobs welcoming learners to the SAIAB exhibition. Photo: Supplied

Ferdy Jacobs giving a demonstration of a catfish to learners. Photo: Supplied

As a participant in the four-year Horizon 2020 project, NUCLEUS, (http://www.nucleus-project.eu/), SAIAB aims to make Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) a reality (#LivingRRI). Part of this responsibility is to engage with different publics (in this case, school pupils) to develop their understanding of our research and develop their appreciation of our natural heritage. To this end, four SAIAB staff members, Ferdy Jacobs (Freshwater Research Assistant), Zipho Canda (@ACEP_ZA Administration Officer), and NRF-DST Interns, Tholoana Ntokoane and Lucky Dlamini, lead an exhibition at Algoa College in Straundale (Department of Education) for pupils from Masiphathisane Secondary School, Khwezi Lomso Comprehensive School and Kwazakhele High School. Approximately 200 pupils arrived to learn and engage in science-based activities.

From left to right: Ferdy Jacobs, Tholoana Ntokoane, Lucky Dlamini and Zipho Canda. Photo: Supplied

Ending the countrywide celebration of NSW, on Friday 3 August, SAIAB served as a vehicle for showcasing aquatic sciences to pupils in Paterson, a small settlement in Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province. Here, the SAIAB team made science appealing to learners, so that they might consider Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) as offering preferable career options. Approximately, 109 pupils from Hendrik Kanise Combined School and Sandisulwazi High School engaged with the SAIAB exhibition.

The sting in the tail – Tholoana Ntokoane explains the stingray. Photo: Supplied

Lucky Dlamini holds up a preserved tiger fish and explains the importance of preserving biodiversity and how fish specimens are stored in the SAIAB Wet Collection. Photo: Supplied

Tholoana Ntokoane gives pupils a chance to get up close and personal with an eel. Photo: Supplied

Zipho Canda tells pupils about SAIAB’s dry collection. Photo: Supplied

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