An international affair at Scifest Africa 2016
19th February 2016

Scifest Africa, South Africa’s National Science Festival, will take place in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape from 2-8 March 2016. The festival will feature content, speakers and shows from across the globe to make it a truly international affair.

At this year’s festival, the British High Commission in South Africa have sponsored two lectures, by two very talented women from the UK.

Science demonstrations are at the heart of any science festival, and one of the most effective ways to engage a variety of audiences in science in any setting. But are science communicators just messing around with buckets, custard and straws?

The official opening lecture at Scifest Africa 2016 will be presented by Wendy Sadler, a physicist, founding Director of science made simple in the UK, and regular contributor at Scifest Africa. In her lecture she will reflect on how science communication and science festivals are building bridges between the public and scientists and how it is changing the world. The opening lecture by Sadler, titled “Demo to democracy: How science communication can change the world” will take place on Friday 4 March, at 18h30 in the Monument Guy Butler Theatre.

Searching for fossils, ruins or artefacts in unstable, hostile and disputed territories may be an adventure, but it is also cutting-edge science, and science should never have to give up and pack up for security reasons.

Ella Al-Shamahi, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, will also form part of the lecture series this year. Al-Shamahi is an archaeologist, palaeoanthroplogist and comic who works in areas where it is hard to get insurance. Most of her work takes place in the beautiful but unstable country of Yemen, her family’s country of origin. Here her team are trying to find and excavate caves inhabited in the Paleolithic Period. Discover what her finds can tell us about Neanderthals, why she thinks that perhaps early humans did not migrate from Africa as scientists think, what challenges archaeologists face in the excavation and preservation of fossils, ruins or artefacts and working in unstable areas, and how stand-up comedy helps her cope with the darker side of her work. This lecture titled “Fossil hunting in Yemen: Exploring early human migration and Neanderthals in unstable territories” will take place on Monday, 7 March at 18h30 in the Monument Olive Schreiner Hall.

Other attractions from the UK at the festival this year will include Dr Stephen Ashworth, from the University of East Anglia, who will present a science show titled “Kitchen Chemistry: Seconds” that will showcase brand new dramatic experiments. The Bloodhound Project will showcase the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC), designed to travel at a speed of 1,690kph. The UK is one of six countries represented at the festival this year, with the rest of the list including Australia, Germany, India, Switzerland and the US. 

To see the electronic programme visit www.scifest.org.za and www.tickethut.co.za. Bookings are open on 0860 002 004 or www.tickethut.co.za.

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