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The South African young academy of science (SAYAS) symposium held in Cape Town recently heard a very different contribution to the topic of science when the Optimistic Youth Reporters from the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) presented their questions and viewpoints as panelists at the conference.
Contributors to the symposium spoke about interactive and collaborative initiatives to get science translated to the public and not stuck in academic language that is hard to unpack for easy consumption and dissemination. The under-representation of Africa in science was another theme raised by the Optimistic Youth Reporters as well as other contributors to the conference.
The two day symposium saw academics from various scientific disciplines, including science fiction writers, a cartoonist and a musician, gather under the conference banner of “Fact, Fiction and Media: Re-imagining science engagement and its impact.”
Professor Nnedi Okorafor, Nigerian American professor in creative writing and science fiction novelist explained why she began writing in the genre of speculative science fiction: “For me the way that I came to writing science fiction writing…I was born in the US and my parents came to the states in 1969…I was born and raised there. From a very young age our parents took us back to Nigeria to get to know relatives. I didn’t start writing creatively until my sophomore year in college. Up until that point I thought I was going to be an entomologist. I took a creative writing class and the end of that class I knew I found something that I loved. As I grew older I started noting things, once I started writing, my writers eye really opened up, and I began looking at how technology mingled with old traditional ways. I wasn’t seeing a modern Africa portrayed in science fiction and Africa in the future. I wanted to see the stories and I didn’t see them.”
In the panel discussion titled: ‘ask a scientist a question’; the Optimistic Youth Reporters grilled scientists on questions ranging from what the definition of science is, how science can help society and what Africa’s contribution to science is. Scientists gave their views and the session became an animated and lively discussion about science and its role in society.
The Optimistic Youth reporters were also roving reporters at the conference, interviewing guests in attendance and recording their experience of the symposium.
Here is the media story in The Nigerian Voice.
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