The National Science Week (NSW) kicked off on Monday, 2 August, and will run until 7 August with an entirely virtual programme featuring exciting content in the form of exhibitions, webinars, documentaries and more aimed at stimulating interest in science in South Africa.
The 2021 science awareness initiative, takes place under the theme “Making it possible through science”, and is led by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement supported by the entities of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and many other institutions in the national system of innovation.
With COVID-19 having changed the way things are done today, some of the webinars will provide insight into the pandemic and how it affects different sectors of society. For Grade 10 to 12 learners and teachers, the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) will host a webinar titled “The essential facts about COVID-19: The disease, the responses and an uncertain future”.
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of science, technology and innovation in our daily lives. The development of vaccines and how they save lives is important information that our citizens must become familiar with, and science engagement programmes like NSW are therefore essential.
Tshwane University of Technology representatives will give insight into the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of students and other members of the institution, while Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, CEO of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, will share knowledge about COVID-19 vaccinations in a lecture followed by a roundtable discussion.
How “blue skies” research created billions of rands worth of impact in South Africa will be the subject of a webinar hosted by the South African National Space Agency, which will unpack the role that space weather research has played in addressing a global challenge with major domestic impact.
A documentary on the South African Astronomical Observatory will take viewers on an astronomical journey from our beginnings through the development of astronomy research in South Africa, while offering a glimpse of what the future of astronomy holds for the country.
In keeping with August as Women’s Month, ASSAf will present a profile of leading female scientists, while other parts of the NSW programme will share insights into advances in indigenous knowledge systems, renewable energy development in South Africa, the fourth industrial revolution, and the wealth of paleontological findings in Africa.
There will also be plenty to learn from science quizzes, robotics and science shows targeting high school learners, and a virtual tour of space.
LabXchange, an online community for learning, sharing and collaboration, will bring us a visualization watch as the Earth orbits the sun, rotating like a slightly tilted, spinning top, to illustrate how the sun’s light shines differently on the Earth at different times to form the seasons of the year.