Night sky viewing, rocket building, chemistry demonstrations and a celebration of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements in indigenous languages are among the array of activities planned around National Science Week 2019 (NSW2019) at Nelson Mandela University.
National Science Week (NSW) is an annual initiative of the department of Science and Technology (DST), in conjunction with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). It is a nationwide celebration of science; with the primary goal of contributing to the development of a society that is knowledgeable about science, critically engaged and scientifically literate.
The overall theme for NSW – which will be launched nationally on 27 July by Higher Education, Science and Technology minister Dr Blade Nzimande in Kimberley, Northern Cape on 27 July – is “Facing the harsh realities of Climate Change”.
Mandela University’s pre-NSW programme gets under way from 18 July with a symposium that zooms into the national theme (see attached invite). This, as the University wraps up its year-long Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebrations Programme that launched last July.
Institutionally, Mandela University has adopted the theme “The Periodic Table of Chemical Elements in Science, Technology, and Sustainable Development of Humankind” to complement the national one – also in celebration of 2019 being the International Year for the Periodic Table.
The University’s unique approach to NSW activities has been to host a series of pre-NSW activities as a build up to the national launch event and subsequent Focus Week – with the latter taking place from 29 July to 3 August this year.
“Our pre-NSW2019 activities will take place during the period of 18 – 26 July on our campuses under the sub-theme “From Cala to Thembalethu”, signalling our intentions of taking science to Cala, in the Eastern Cape, and to Thembalethu townships, in the Southern Cape,” says Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof Azwinndini Muronga.
NSW2019 Focus Week activities in Cala, which will be held in collaboration with the iKamvelihle Development Trust (iKDT), take place on 29 – 30 July; then at Thembalethu on 1 – 2 August.
Taking NSW2019 to these communities speaks to the faculty’s Science Engagement Strategy that, among others, aims to popularise STEMI (science, technology, engineering, maths and innovation) disciplines and to attract and retain quality learners in these fields from Grade R to undergrad.
Included in the programme are public lectures, teacher development and computer coding tank workshops, amongst other activities. There will also be student recruitment opportunities, where pupils will receive career guidance and assistance with online applications to the University.