Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) 2016 was a two-day international gathering organised by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) aimed at creating a platform for dialogue on the role of science, technology and innovation in society. The conference, which took place on 8 and 9 December 2016, brought together scientists, government leaders, sector industry representatives, students and civil society to interact on a diverse range of topics under the theme “Igniting conversations about science”. SFSA 2016 focused specifically on the social sciences, humanities and the role of science in Africa’s development agenda.
Science on the Street is a SFSA outreach programme that gives role players in the national system of innovation the opportunity to reach out to ordinary citizens in order to showcase the role that science plays in people’s day-to-day lives. The outreach programme further presents ordinary citizens with an opportunity to interact with scientists in order to understand the scientific phenomena in their environment. This interaction contributes to people’s understanding of scientific issues and the role of science in sustainable livelihoods.
Science on the Street also took place on 8 and 9 December 2016 in Church Square, Pretoria. Exhibitors from science centres, science councils, universities, government departments and the private sector showed South Africans how their organisations are contributing to improving the quality of life through exciting scientific processes. At least 40 organisations participated in Science on the Street.
Visitors were enlightened through hands-on exhibits and science shows which contribute to the understanding of the scientific world and discoveries around us. Hands-on exhibits and science shows have the potential to disseminate scientific information in an exciting and simplified, but accurate, manner.
One of the newest features of the exhibition was the Career Guidance Workshop. Prof. Maximus Sefotho of the University of Pretoria coached participants on developing a life-long career path. Information on transition to employment, especially for young graduates entering the job market for the first time, was shared in the workshop. Career counsellors were also available to pay attention to those wanting one-on-one advice on job seeking methods.
One hundred people a day had an opportunity to visit the research facilities at the National Zoological Gardens. The tour provided the visitors with the opportunity to experience and understand the scientific processes behind various phenomena. It is hoped the tour gave the visitors information and knowledge that will influence their career choices and encourage them to enter related fields.
The Science on the Street exhibitors ran competitions related to the incidents taking place throughout the two days. Lucky visitors walked away with prizes from various exhibiting organisations. Those who were unable to attend the forum at the CSIR could relax in the shade of the trees in Church Square and follow the forum proceedings through a live streaming system.
Although Science on the Street targeting members of the public, learners from the schools in Hammanskraal, Hebron, Kgabalatsane, Mamelodi, Moeka, Soshanguve and Soweto also visited the exhibitions in Church Square.
While the main outreach took place in Church Square, people in Kempton Park and surrounding areas could catch up on the Science on the Street activities in Birch Acres Mall. Other outreach activities include dialogues took place in Daveyton and Benoni, and at the Cape Town Science Centre.
Prof. Puleng Segalo of the University of South Africa engaged Daveyton women in a conversation on trauma and gender. The dialogue entailed a mapping exercise to show how trauma can be passed on through generations, as well as showing how embroidery could be used as a form of speaking the unspeakable.
The Cape Town Science Centre hosted an evening with Prof. Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan on Jurassic World: What is fact and what is fiction? The dialogue looked at the ancient genome gaps in the movie “Jurassic Park”.