The South African National Space Agency in Hermanus celebrated World Space Week and the 15th anniversary of its Science Centre on Monday 7th October, with the unveiling of several new space-themed Science Centre exhibits.
Speaking at the event, Dr Jabu Nukeri, Managing Director of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), recognised the Science Centre’s contribution in connecting science to society. “SANSA’s contributions will go a long way in putting science in the hands of society. Your next challenge is to keep the momentum and solidify what has already been achieved over the last 15 years within the SANSA Science Centre.”
First opened in October 2004, the Science Centre has welcomed more than 70 000 learners and over 1000 science educators to learn more about space and South Africa’s space-based activities. Today, the Science Centre boasts several brand new exhibits, including a replica of South Africa’s second satellite, SumbandilaSAT, an earth observation satellite which was used for monitoring disasters such as floods, oil spills and fires within Southern Africa.
“The 15th anniversary celebration provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our 15-year journey with learners, educators and visitors to the SANSA Science Centre,” said Elisa Fraser, SANSA Science Advancement Manager. “We’re proud of the development of the centre through partnerships and the science engagement programme, and excited to continue this journey, using space as a driver to excite the next generation about maths, science and technology.”
Another new exhibit unveiled is an interactive space weather touch table, where learners can understand space weather and how it impacts our technology on earth and in space through a series of missions and games. The Science Centre in Hermanus now also boasts an exciting new exhibit called a planeterrella – a device that demonstrates how the beautiful Northern Lights (or aurora borealis) are created by plasma from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field.
Overstrand Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee acknowledged the significant contribution SANSA has made in building the South African knowledge economy by engaging the youth in STEM subjects through interactive exhibits and science programmes within the SANSA Science Centre. “As challenging as these subjects may be they hold the key to stimulating career opportunities and knowing that your work contributes to the greater good of mankind.”
The SANSA Science Centre hosts more than 6000 visitors every year, and forms part of SANSA’s greater Science Engagement Programme, which promotes interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among learners, educators, the public and policy-makers. SANSA also participates in national exhibitions and school visits, as well as touring South Africa with the SANSA Space Lab, a state-of-the-art interactive mobile laboratory that travels across the country bringing space science to rural schools. SANSA also runs roadshows every year to encourage learners to aspire to careers in STEM, and hosts various public engagement activities such as public tours and a public lecture series.
SANSA’s Hermanus facility hosts an annual Open Day during National Science Week, and public tours are available every Wednesday at 11am.