Role Modelling Campaign

Poor uptake of mathematics and science at secondary and tertiary level is shrinking the pool of qualified scientists and researchers, in turn threatening the future of scientific development in South Africa. Role modelling campaigns, through which SAASTA hopes to change this poor uptake, is a career profiling project, implemented by the Science Education Unit, which exposes learners to role models with various qualifications in science, engineering and technology (SET). The intervention provides learners with appropriate role models/mentors who, in turn, aim to entice these learners into pursuing careers in SET. The project is aimed at Grade 8 -11 learners who are studying Natural Science, Mathematics, Physical Science and Life Sciences.

Learners normally meet and interact with at least 10 to 12 role models with different careers at each of the interventions, and have the opportunity to request more information about the specialist or on that career. The intervention has further been seen as a way of motivating and encouraging those learners from previously disadvantaged communities hoping to do well in the SET fields to pursue their dreams through guidance and advice from the role models.

Information and Dialogue Sessions

The Science Communication Unit drives various interventions targeted at the media and researchers. At these events media personnel are introduced to scientists or researchers and provided with the necessary support to enable them to report scientific content accurately to the public. The overall objectives of these sessions are to disseminate information about the research activities in South Africa, profile South African scientists/organisations in a particular research discipline, and to create awareness around opportunities for industry and research collaborations to grow the sector.

The following interventions aim to improve the media and scientists/researchers relationship which in turn help to ensure that the communication of science is accurate.

Media Round Table

Media Round Tables are interactive media briefings  involving a cross section of relevant stakeholders to enable all perspectives or viewpoints to be expressed and discussed in equal standing. MRTs further help to bridge the communication divide between researchers/scientists and the media, which is often responsible for the poor quality and quantity of accurate media reporting.

Critical Thinker Forums

Critical Thinker Forums are targeted at academics, industry and government with the aim of creating a worthwhile platform for collaborations among key players in the National System of Innovation and also for contributions towards new policy development.

Workshops

Through these interactive workshops, the researchers’ media as well as communication skills are developed with more emphasis placed on communicating about fields that have been identified as research priority areas. The facilitation of these workshops assists researchers to popularise science while contributing to the goal of capacity building in the field of science communication. Through the core-competencies in the unit, the platform facilitates science communication workshops which assist researchers to communicate their scientific research through social media, radio interviews and creative writing.

Facility Tours

The purpose of a facility tour is to raise awareness of the science taking place at key South African research institutions or facilities by reaching a diverse group of audiences. The tour is structured in two parts: the first being an audivisual presentation, which aims to familiarise the viewer with the science behind the technology, its origins, potential applications and risks. The second, a physical tour, will be conducted in the labs with the aim to encourage engagement with the South African centre and to look for opportunities to support or collaborate with the work done there. The second part of the tour is conducted by the facility researchers trained in science communication.  Numerous educational materials are developed to assist the visitors and these include posters of facility research activities, fact sheets and hand outs and the video mentioned earlier.

Schools Debates

The Debates project seeks to present scientific information to the youth of South Africa in a manner that will stimulate them intellectually and encourage them to engage each other on science-related issues.

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