/ 28 July 2008

‘It’s going to be a blast’

Mthatha will host the Eastern Cape’s first regional science festival next month, from August 26 to 28.

‘It’s going to be a blast,” says Margaret Wolf, of Grahamstown-based SciFest Africa. She means it literally. The old Trinset building will resound to explosions as chemistry graduate Fikiswa Majola from the MTN Science centre blows things up in front of hundreds of grade-10 students.

She’ll be joined by Matshawe Tukulula, a master’s student in chemistry at Rhodes University, who will be doing those fun science things such as sticking skewers through balloons without popping them and burning money without denting his bank balance.

In contrast, the absence of explosions is likely to be highlighted in a talk by Durban-born nuclear physicist Nonhlanhla Mokoena, who overcame poverty in Umlazi to work with the power of the uranium atom at the Koeberg plant on the West Coast.

Popular SABC television weatherman Mnikeli Ndabambi will be forecasting the perfect storm while Derek Potgieter from the Port Elizabeth training programme Handzon will show teachers how to survive — and even thrive on — student projects.

Other stars include Sivuyile Mangxoyi, who is coming from the Cape Town observatory with his telescopes. Veteran astronomer Case Rijsdijk, from Wilderness, will host the Science Olympics just two days after the closing ceremony for the sporting Olympics in Beijing.

‘We are particularly proud that this is going to be South Africa’s first bilingual science festival, with talks and demos in isiXhosa as well as in English,” Wolff said.

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