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Raising awareness of the importance of ocean science

By Nozi Hambaze, Science Engagement Officer, SAEON Elwandle Node
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Learners get acquainted with equipment used for ocean science research


A learner engrossed in identifying, classifying and measuring rocky shore animals


The people of Paterson were intrigued by the ocean science exhibits

The theme for this year`s National Science Week* was Deepening our democracy through science.

The week-long event is celebrated nationwide with science festivities. The primary goal is to contribute to the development of a society that is knowledgeable about science, critically engaged and scientifically literate.

SAEON's Elwandle Node made certain they were not left behind by celebrating the week with exciting science activities.

The Algoa College of Education was abuzz with learners attending a talk by Mfundo Bizani, a PhD student at the Elwandle Node. This young scientist presented the research he is currently undertaking at Algoa Bay to learners, students and the college community in a packed auditorium.

His presentation ran parallel with a wide variety of exhibitions in the college hall. The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), SAEON, Bayworld Oceanarium, Buzz Projects and Nelson Mandela Municipality were among the exhibitors.

Learning more about ocean science research

The Ocean Science Campus is a new campus at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and people often wonder what it is all about. National Science Week creates an opportunity specifically for university students to see, touch and hear about the equipment used when conducting ocean science research, specifically in Algoa Bay.

Dr Shaun Deysel of the Elwandle Node welcomed and addressed a group of learners while Imtiyaaz Malick was taking people on a tour of the facility. Most people were impressed by the decompression chamber, the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape.

Women in Science talks

This was followed by the Women in Science talks led by Carla Edworthy, a PhD student at SAIAB. She opened her presentation with a motivational talk to learners about her journey from high school to where she is today. She encouraged the learners to consider environmental science as a career.

Dr Nikki James of SAIAB introduced the learners to some of South Africa's amazing coastal fishes, while PhD student Ross-Lynne Weston presented on plankton in Algoa Bay. The learners were intrigued by Dr Shirley Parker-Nance's presentation on hidden treasures in Algoa Bay. The presentations were followed by a mind-blowing questions-and-answers session and lively engagement.

Coastal Science Day

The excitement gained further momentum during Coastal Science Day. The fun-filled event was made possible by Dr Gavin Rishworth of NMU who facilitated the ‘stromatolites' visit.

Werner Kuntz, an oceanographic technician intern, took the learners on a treasure hunt for rocky shore organisms and taught the groups how these organisms survive and live on the rocky shores. This was a fun activity as learners enjoyed identifying, classifying and measuring the rocky shore animals.

Taking ocean science inland

This was the idea behind the trip to Paterson on the last day of National Science Week. The people there were intrigued by the fish specimens showcased by SAIAB and said they were astonished by how important our oceans and their inhabitants are.

A group of tourists from abroad (from countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Canada and New Zealand), who visited and interacted with ocean institutions in the Eastern Cape, had such an enjoyable time during National Science Week that they are looking at opportunities such as beach clean-ups to get closer to the sea and learn even more.

* National Science Week is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) implemented by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA).

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