National Science Week is an annual initiative of the department of Science and Technology (DST) together with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). National Science Week is a nationwide celebration of science, with the primary goal of contributing to the development of a society that is knowledgeable about science, critically engaged and scientifically literate! The countrywide celebration of science is coordinated by NRF/SAASTA and takes place simultaneously at various sites, on all 9 provinces. This year Nelson Mandela University will be participating in National Science Week by hosting events in Port Elizabeth, George and Mvezo.

Each year a new theme is chosen and hosts are expected to organize activities around the overarching theme. This year, the theme for the National Science Week 2018 is “Deepening Our Democracy through Science”. This year, the theme for the National Science Week 2018 is “Deepening Our Democracy through Science” in celebration of the centenary and the legacy of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. This theme has great significance to our institution, as we carry the name of  Nelson Mandela.

As a tradition that started last year, the Faculty of Science is organizing Pre National Science Week activities under the theme “Road to Mvezo.”The activities will culminate the Faculty of Science and the Nelson Mandela University travelling to Mvezo during the focus week. The activities hosted during the pre-launch and focus week of National Science Week, will be hosted under the themes of Science Education, Communication and Outreach; Discovery at the Frontiers of Science; Indigenous Knowledge Systems; From Basic Science to Technology and its Application; Science and the Future and Art meets Science.

This year National Science Week festivities will take place between the 28th of July 2018 and 4th of August 2018.  Nelson Mandela University’s prelaunch activities will kick start on the 18th of July, on the centenary celebration of Nelson Mandela, with a symposium on this year’s National Science Week theme of “Deepening our Democracy through Science”.

During Pre-Launch, the University will be hosting events aimed at school learners including a chemistry show, a rocket build, a workshop on indigenous knowledge systems and a tour of InnoVenton (Nelson Mandela University’s Institute for Chemical Technology). The faculty will be hosting a public lecture on “Richard Feynman at 100 - A celebration of a curious mind, a celebration of science.”

A symposium will also be hosted on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence” and a seminar on “Large Scale Science Facilities in South Africa.”

In our quest to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela, The Faculty of Science, will be traveling to Mvezo, Mandela’s birthplace, as part of our focus week activities in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, the Mvezo Komkhule community and the Royal Council. The Science Faculty will be hosting activities at the Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, which will include STEMI activities such as rocket launch, chemistry show, role modelling talks by Nelson Mandela University science students and a computer coding boot camp. The celebration of science is expected to attract learners from the surrounding schools, media, and public and policy makers.  The Faculty of Science will also be joined by invited exhibitors from the Eastern Cape and nationally.


National Science Week (NSW), an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is a countrywide celebration of STEMI involving various stakeholders and/or role players conducting STEMI activities during the declared week.  NSW takes place simultaneously in multiple sites in all the nine provinces.  

NRF/SAASTA has been appointed by the DST as the implementing agency and play the role of coordinating and managing activities pertaining to the project.

Each year a different theme is chosen and activities are offered around these themes to the target participants. The NSW is a mass participation initiative within the context of the Science Engagement Strategy and its objectives are the following:

  • To popularize science to the broader South African society,
  • To serve as a vehicle for showcasing local innovations in science and technology, and the leadership role of the DST and other government departments in enabling research, development and innovation,
  • To make Science Technology Engineering Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) appealing to learners, such that they consider STEMI as preferable career options, and
  • To familiarise targeted participants with the science linked to areas in which South Africa has knowledge and/or geographic advantage to contribute in making them informed and critically engaged citizens.

The aim of STEMI activities is to:

  • Popularise STEMI as attractive, stimulating, exciting and relevant to daily life to the benefit of all sections of the population.
  • Use STEMI as a recreational tool, and communicating STEMI through in arts in ways including but not limited to games, science jokes, concerts, musical genres and sky viewing.
  • Create awareness of astronomy, marine sciences, palaeoscience, space science and technology, indigenous knowledge systems, biodiversity, biotechnology, energy.
  • Create platforms and opportunities for the public to understand the role of social sciences and the impact of STEMI in people’s life.
  • Stimulate interest in and create awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, including STEM research careers.
  • Create platforms and opportunities for the non-scientific community to engage with the scientific community.  Such engagements could be through seminars, workshops, lectures, science caf├ęs, debates etc. and/or using online means and relevant media platforms.
  • Create space for budding scientists within the schooling and university systems to showcase their STEMI projects to their peers and the general public.
  • Demonstrate the contribution of STEMI to sustainable development and improved quality of life.  These will include, but are not limited to, the protection of the South African biodiversity heritage.
  • The understanding and management of the possible consequences of climate change and environmental degradation.
  • The way in which STEMI enhances the key sectors of the South African economy, namely, manufacturing, retail, financial services, communications, mining, agriculture and tourism.
  • The contribution of STEMI to citizens’ right to education, a clean environment, access to health care, food and water, social security, as well as safety and security.
  • Contribution of STEMI to solving the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
  • Create awareness of the South African inventions and discoveries that changed the world.

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