It’s Scifest Africa 2014, and it’s out there

Scifest Africa. (Supplied)

Scifest Africa. (Supplied)

This year Scifest Africa, which takes place in Grahamstown from March 12 to 18 offers a rich variety of opportunities for those who prefer to go beyond observing and hearing about new discoveries and enjoy the excitement of engaging directly with the sciences. If you are looking for a bit of action that will stretch the limbs be sure to join Basil Mills on a journey of discovery through the rocky outcrops of Gunfire Hill where you will learn to observe your surroundings with the keen eye of a professional naturalist.

Mills is the education officer at the National English Literary Museum, and is widely respected for his extensive knowledge of South Africa’s natural and human history, animal rescue and rehabilitation work, restoration projects and historic battle re-enactments. He is a naturalist, historian, poet and artist in whose company you will gain a range of insights into a hillside that might have seemed rather ordinary a few hours previously.

The daily Kids Dig at the Albany Science Museum will encourage children from grades R to 7 to grab their safety gear and start digging to unearth historical artefacts and fossils that tell a story about the geological, paleontological and archaeological past of Grahamstown. Various activity zones will open the way for pupils to see what it’s like to be a scientist, to learn more about how scientists think and how they go about doing their research. Hands-on digging and discovery will motivate our young ones to come up with their own ideas for more activities and further learning.

An unusual, but extremely popular feature of the Scifest Africa programme is the annual Green Fun Run. The run (6.4km) and walk (2.3km) bring together people from all walks of life and encourage scholars, students, businesses and residents to live more sustainable lifestyles and get involved in practical environmental activities. Entrants are encouraged to wear eye-catching outfits highlighting the green theme of the event. Prizes include certificates of participation, and trees planted and labeled for posterity.

Many other events will keep locals and visitors occupied while they learn more about the sciences. These events include the Annual Masonic Hobbies Expo where crafters, collectors and hobbyists show off their wares; the Global Cardboard Challenge that invites you to build anything awesome out of cardboard, recycled materials and imagination; and of course the Soapbox Derby where teams of four will be required to design, build and race a soap box car with a difference. For more information on these and many other exciting events taking place at Scifest Africa 2014 visit the web site at

This article forms part of a supplement made possible by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers. The contents have been supplied and signed off by Scifest Africa.