More than 100 events at Scifest Africa 2011 have sold out already as organisers prepare to welcome a star-studded scientific line-up, together with thousands of visitors from around the country, and around the world.
Science and Technology minister Naledi Pandor, whose department of is sponsoring Scifest Africa 2011, will be attending the annual event that starts tomorrow and says the festival inspires our country’s most important asset, our people, to pursue their dreams.
And, speaking of people who followed their dreams, 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie being awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry - so Scifest is joining in the celebrations of the International Year of Chemistry in her honour.
In September, South Africa will also host the sixth Science Centre World Congress, and shares its theme of “Science across cultures” with the national science festival in Grahamstown. The theme encourages visitors to understand the contributions of different cultures to science and how the discipline came into being.
The lectures, workshops, and other activities from 4-10 May offer something for everyone – whether clued up, or just curious to learn about what drives the world. Scifest aims to spark a passion for science and mathematics in young South Africans and festival director, Anja Fourie, says the inspiration works both ways.
“What touches us most is the stories of how Scifest Africa has inspired learners to change their lives, or follow a career in science. That in turn inspires us to keep doing what we do,” Fourie says.
Local and international scientists include award-winning engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, from Cornell University in the US, a leading authority on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking"; Dr Vinet Coetzee, head of genetics at the University of Pretoria and last year’s winner of the L’Oreal-Unesco Regional Fellowship for Women in Science in Sub-Saharan Africa, who speaks on the secrets of facial beauty.
Scifest’s workshops this year offer visitors a hands-on opportunity to explore subjects as diverse as the mathematics of Zulu beadwork designs, rockets, origami, vegetable gardening, prehistoric paint-making, biotechnology, and the weather.
View the electronic programme online at www.scifest.org.za, and book by calling 046 603 1106. As well as the main Scifest featured events, there are a number of worthwhile Fringe talks and demonstrations on offer.