Makana for the sci-cu­ri­ous ‒ a new­com­ers guide

Grocott's Mail - - OUTSIDE - By STEVEN LANG

“No one is dumb who is cu­ri­ous,” said rock-star as­tro­physi­cist, Neil de Grasse Tyson and the slo­gan for our mu­nic­i­pal­ity is: Makana - a great place to be. Join them to­gether and we find that Makana is a great place to be cu­ri­ous.

Cu­ri­ous peo­ple nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to­wards the sciences, even those who hap­pen to be study­ing in the hu­man­i­ties, and in Gra­ham­stown there is plenty to whet the ap­petites of the sci-cu­ri­ous.

You do not have to be en­rolled at the Science Fac­ulty to en­joy science in Gra­ham­stown.

Scifest Africa is the big­gest sin­gle science fes­ti­val in Africa and it takes place right on our doorstep.

Last year Scifest Africa had 58 ex­hi­bi­tions and more than 700 events in­clud­ing work­shops, out­door demon­stra­tions and a top class lec­ture pro­gramme.

This year (7-13 March) the theme is “In­no­va­tion 4.0”, ref­er­enc­ing the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, in­clud­ing artificial in­tel­li­gence, 3D print­ing, nan­otech­nol­ogy, ro­bot­ics, quan­tum com­put­ing and dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies.

Wa­ter World is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing par­al­lel events of Scifest Africa. The South African In­sti­tute for Aquatic Bio­di­ver­sity, SAIAB, hosts Wa­ter World pre­sent­ing a rare op­por­tu­nity to learn about one of the largest col­lec­tions of fish spec­i­mens in the world.

The SAIAB also houses a unique ex­hi­bi­tion on the dis­cov­ery of the first liv­ing coela­canth. The ex­hi­bi­tion has pho­to­graphs and an adult-sized, pre­served coela­canth.

This re­mark­able fish is on dis­play at SAIAB through­out the year, and with an ap­point­ment, you will be shown around this amaz­ing fa­cil­ity. The fa­cil­ity ad­di­tion­ally of- feres sev­eral free ma­rine-re­lated lec­tures dur­ing the year, where they in­vite ex­perts and vis­it­ing aca­demics to make pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tions.

Gra­ham­stown is also at the forefront of Na­tional Science Week later in the year when the Science Fac­ulty will host an open day and Eskom will hold the re­gional finals of its an­nual Science Expo.

Open day is a good op­por­tu­nity for prospec­tive stu­dents to find out what science they can do at Rhodes while the Expo pro­vides young peo­ple with a space to show what science they can do al­ready.

The theme for Na­tional Science Week in Au­gust this year is: Bring­ing alive science, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion for a sus­tain­able fu­ture.

The Al­bany Mu­seum is re­ally a group of five mu­se­ums: Fort Sel­wyn, His­tory Mu­seum, the Ob­ser­va­tory, the Provost and Nat­u­ral Science.

The Nat­u­ral Sciences Mu­seum houses per­ma­nent col­lec­tions of ter­res­trial in­sects, fresh­wa­ter in­ver­te­brates, fresh­wa­ter fishes, a plant her­bar­ium, birds, palaeon­to­log­i­cal fos­sils, rocks and min­er­als, ethno­graphic and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ma­te­rial.

It is worth the visit to find out what kind of wildlife roamed our coun­try­side be­fore the di­nosaurs took over our planet.

The mu­seum has dio­ra­mas of mam­mal-like rep­tiles from the Per­mian and Tri­as­sic beds of the Ka­roo giv­ing the vis­i­tor an idea of the fauna be­fore and af­ter the big­gest ex­tinc­tion event on this plant.

Of spe­cial in­ter­est is a col­lec­tion of fishes, plants and bugs that were found in 360-mil­lion-year old shale rock-beds just out­side Gra­ham­stown.

Th­ese rocks are still be­ing ex­plored and new spec­i­mens are be­ing added to the col­lec­tion.

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