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RIP ~ Alfred Tsipa

Dear SAASTEC Colleagues

I am devastated to have to tell you that Alfred Tsipa of Unizulu SC passed away at 11 am on Saturday 22nd July. He had a serious heart attack on 5 April and had been in hospital since then. I have lost my friend of 30 years and colleague of 20 years. His wife, Sally has lost her husband; and his children: Ofentse, Lemogang and Omelemo their father. SAASTEC has lost one of its founder members, a former president for two terms and IPC member. Unizulu SC has lost one of our own.

A memorial service will be held at the University of Zululand campus in KwaDlangezwa at 13:00 on Wed 26th July, especially for colleagues and work-related associates.

A funeral service will be held at the Bhekuzulu Hall at the University of Zululand campus in KwaDlangezwa at 9:00 on Sat 29th July.

There will be opportunity to pay tribute to Alfred at the Wed service. If you are unable to attend, we would nevertheless love to share your tribute or memory of Alfred with his family, friends and colleagues at the Wed service. If you would like to share this, please email a brief tribute message (or memory) to Derek Fish at BY TUESDAY 25 JULY (AFTERNOON 17:00).  If its later than that it will not be able to be shared. This will mean a lot to all of us, especially his family. On Wednesday we plan to celebrate his life, even as we mourn his death, so happy, positive memories are most welcome!

Please remember Sally and family in your thoughts and prayers


Derek Fish
Director : UNIZULU

UKZN’s ‘Dr T’ Wins Best Workshop at Grahamstown Science Festival

~ by Tanja Reinhardt

High School learners investigate the movement of continents with a little help from play doh; whilst St Andrews Preparatory children experience the wonder of Science with a little help from UKZN’s ‘Dr T’.

UKZN’s Science Centre coordinator, Dr Tanja Reinhardt (aka ‘Dr T’) was awarded the prize for the Best Workshop at the recent Grahamstown National Science Festival.

The annual festival aims to instill a love of science in school pupils.

Dr T’s workshop went under the intriguing title of ‘Wandering Continents’.

Using ‘play tectonics’, learners and teachers embarked on a journey through time to explore Wegener’s hypothesis of the wandering continents, and, as shift happened, on how geological evidence was used to support the theory of plate tectonics.

‘The participants physically moved play doh continents through time, from their current position to their positions about 220 million years ago when there was a supercontinent called Pangea,’ explained Reinhardt.

‘The participants investigated the various tools scientists used to develop the theory of plate tectonics. They placed markers on the different continents where the same type of fossils and rocks were found in their current position. Then they explored the patterns these markers made and compared the distribution of the markers made today to 220 million years ago.

‘They also looked at evidence from Earthquakes and the age of the seafloor.’

The idea of the workshop had been developed by the College of Science and Engineering at the Texas Christian University, who generously donated the ‘Pangea cookie cutters’ and continent mats.

‘Dr T’ also found time to woo a younger audience and visited local primary schools in Grahamstown to spread the magic of Science.

Zululand Science Festival 2017: Celebrating “Africanology”

Dr. Tanja Reinhardt from UKZN heats things up

By Derek Fish

Unizulu Science Centre (USC) presented Zulfest for the third year running, from 22 – 27 May. Contributors from all over South Africa (and the world) highlighted areas of science where South Africans can be proud, to over 5000 excited visitors.

Nolwazi makes science real to shoppers

Events took place at the USC, at the Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Mall, at seven different schools and some restaurants. For the first time this year the festival received generous funding from the Department of Science and Technology, via SAASTA.

Mark Sampson, comedian and eco-warrior delighted the crowds in Mtunzini with his hilarious presentation: “Africa Clockwise”, chronicling his trip around Africa with his family in a truck which ran on cooking oil and solar power. Prof Mike Bruton provided fascinating details of “Great South African Inventions” from the two books he has published. Scientists from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the SA National Space Agency showed that SA has not lagged behind in the space race. Engineers and artisans from Bell Equipment presented the amazing story of local innovation which has made their company a world player.

Mark Sampson delights his Mtunzini audience

On the international front, volunteers from the Japanese International Collaboration Agency (JICA) and the US Peace Corps presented a variety of programmes from robotics to HIV/Aids education.

Riaan from Reptile City ensured the crowds were awake with an array of snakes and crocodiles while Living Maths, UNISA, UNW, Sci-Bono and UKZN SC filled the other slots.

Presentations on indigenous knowledge provided a fascinating history of innovation in this area.

Anyone unfortunate enough to have missed the excitement (or stimulated by it for more) can contact the USC on to organise a visit.

Excited learners from Dlangezwa High School celebrate Zulfest with Chris Harris of the US Peace Corps.
The Students’ Council gets to grips with science

South Africa Teams Excel at Virtual Get Excited About Robotics (GEAR) Competition

By Tanja Karp, Patricia Gouws, and Kabelo Pheeha

The Virtual GEAR competition, an international LEGO MINSTORMS EV3 robotics challenge offered to learners aged 14 years old or younger, was held February through May 2017.  17 teams from South Africa, Germany, and the United States of America participated, competing in two different categories: First Timers was reserved to teams with no prior robotics competition experience and Global Competitors had to form international alliances during the competition.  All robot design and competition was performed locally and results were uploaded to cloud storage.

First Timers 1st Place: Young Spanners, Laerskool Wierdapark, Centurion, Gauteng

In February, teams were given instructions to design their game field for this year’s challenge “Flippin’ Out”, where the robot had to operate in a fast food restaurant and had to deliver orders of hamburgers, chips, drinks, shakes, and ice cream to customers’ trays.  They were also asked to create and upload a team introduction video describing where they live, how robotics is implemented at their school/club, and why they are participating in the competition.  The videos were shared with all participants and the challenge rules were distributed. Four weeks into the competition, teams uploaded a trial run video, showcasing which tasks their robot could already complete. They received feedback on their performance and had another month to improve their design.  By end of April, teams uploaded an engineering design video in which they explained their robot design, team responsibilities, and their game strategy.  The competition was finally held during the first week in May and the organizers joined the teams via video-conferencing.  The final scoring was determined from the scores at trial run and game day and the quality of their engineering design video.

Teams from South Africa took places 1-4 in the First Timers category and were part of each alliance in the Global Competitors category.

First Timers 2nd Place: German International School, Pretoria, Gauteng

Virtual GEAR was organized jointly by Tanja Karp, an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Texas Tech University who is currently a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at UNISA’s Inspired towards Science Engineering and Technology (I-SET) community engagement project and Patricia Gouws and Kabelo Pheeha from I-SET.  Training was offered to Science Centre staff in September 2016 through SAASTA and the program was presented at the 2016 SAASTEC Conference in Richards Bay in November. Virtual GEAR is part of the Association of Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Innovation (ASTEMI). Participation is for free and the next Virtual GEAR competition will launch in January 2018, hopefully with many new robotics teams from Science Centres, schools, and after school clubs.

First Timers 3rd Place: Carnarvon Primary School, Carnarvon, Northern Cape

Opening 27 May 2017 – The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome

Iziko Planetarium

Experience a New Dimension and the Dawn of a Digital Era

The long awaited launch of the revamped Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is imminent and Iziko will finally open the doors of this unique new facility to the public on 27 May 2017.

The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will offer perspective-3D edu-tainment and a unique experience unlike anything local audiences have ever encountered before.

Investments totalling R28,5 million have been secured to ensure the realisation of this project. Partners include:  the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC); the Department of Science and Technology (DST); the National Research Foundation (NRF); the National Lotteries Commission (NLC); and key academic institutions in the Western Cape  ̶  University of Cape Town (UCT), University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

In the late 1950’s the Museum set up a fledgling planetarium, and by the mid-80’s, a newly built dome with a dedicated star machine followed, providing edu-tainment to over 2 million visitors to date.  The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome now stands on the threshold of an exciting new era. Fulldome digital technology has become the norm for planetaria worldwide, offering high res, multi-media image projection. Immersive and multi-sensory experiences create a hub of creativity and learning that is no longer only focussed on astronomy, but on an unlimited array of subjects and genre, with content for audiences of all ages and interests.

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome brings the most advanced digital visualisation technology to Cape Town ̶ creating a world-class digital fulldome theatre, with multiple functionality. This new fulldome theatre will provide unequalled edu-tainment, making virtual travel to explore the universe, the depths of the oceans, the inner working of the human body, the intricacies of atomic and chemical structures possible, or just providing animation and 360° cinema for sheer entertainment.  Moreover, learners and educators from primary to tertiary levels will benefit from computer generated imagery that makes interactive teaching and visual learning possible, providing an unparalleled and accelerated learning experience.

Significantly, the upgraded Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will assist to optimise South Africa’s eResearch and data visualisation capacity, placing us at the cutting edge of this technology, both on the continent and globally. In addition, this new facility will assist South African scientists to develop the skills base and infrastructure required for projects such as Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and MeerKAT radio telescope.

The new Iziko Planetarium and Dome will be a space of innovation, where art and science  meet and create a new platform for local artistic production, film and animation to be showcased for the world to see.

The upgrade of the Iziko planetarium forms an important adjunct to the roll out of a major Capital Works Project currently underway at the Iziko South African Museum. More than R220 million is being invested by the DAC to renovate the existing four-storey research space into a seven-storey, contemporary facility that will be partially accessible to the public, so that they can interact with the quintessence of this museum – research.

The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome, located in the revamped, state-of-the-art Iziko South African Museum will create a new and unique African “Centre of Excellence”.

“As part of the upgraded Iziko South African Museum, the new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome will feature as one of the African continent’s foremost centres of excellence for indigenous knowledge generation. This type of partnership, between museums, academia and government illustrates the value and impact of collaboration in creating synergies between generating knowledge and providing platforms of expression and innovation,” says Ms Rooksana Omar, Chief Executive Officer, Iziko Museums of South Africa.

In his endorsement of this project, world renowned astrophysicist, author and science communicator, Dr Neil DeGrasse Tyson noted: “No longer is the visitor limited to what the universe looks like from Earth. Vistas from across the galaxy and the universe itself are now possible…A digital planetarium further enables the wonders of the natural world to touch our lives in unexpected ways. Whether we gain perspective of our place in the world experiencing the diversity of pan-African culture, its folklore, and its art ̶ writ large in the night sky; or by witnessing the forces of nature and how climate-change affects our planet; or by exploring the infinite universe  ̶  we are not the same walking out of the dome as when we walked in.

Innovation in science and technology in the 21st century is the foundation of tomorrow’s economy and our planet’s sustainability. Given the challenges facing us all, I know of no better way to unleash the untapped potential within the citizenry of the African continent.”

Tickets for the re-opening of the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome can be purchased at the door and members of the public are encouraged to arrive early on opening day to secure a seat. Seating for each show is limited to 140 visitors.

For more information view  here.

Issued by
Kim Lindeboom
Communications Coordinator: Advancement, Iziko Museums of South Africa

On behalf of the Chief Executive Officer, Iziko Museums of South Africa

Iziko Museums of South Africa values and gratefully acknowledge the significant and on-going support of our partners in this innovative project.

Bursaries Available in UK

The Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England (UWE) is currently offering two part-bursaries for students planning to study an MSc Science Communication or PgCert in Practical Science Communication at UWE in Bristol from September 2017. These courses feature modules that cover several aspects of science communication, including science writing, science video and radio production as well as the development of live science events:

For further information on the part-bursary or either of the above courses, please contact the Programme Leader or .

Science Communication Unit
Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences
Department of Applied Sciences
Coldharbour Lane
United Kingdom
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The Science Centre World Summit 2017 ()

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