29 May 2006
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the SA Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (Saasta) have declared June 2006 as Antarctica month, an initiative to make South Africans more aware of the unique and exciting research done by the country’s scientists on this frozen continent and the sub-Antarctic islands.
This is just one of four science-themed months for the year, during which Saasta will be promoting the work of local scientists. The theme for August is marine biosciences, September’s is African origins, and October will focus on astronomy.
The DST and Saasta have called on the public to submit innovative and creative proposals for organising and implementing projects for the months, to help increase public awareness of the four themes, specifically on new research and career opportunities in each area.
Part of the focus of Antarctica Month will be on the work done by the South African Antarctic Programme (Sanap) is to increase our understanding of the natural environment and life on the region through appropriate research, science and technology. Sanap conducts this research in Antarctica itself as well as on Marion Island, Prince Edward Island, Gough Island and in parts of the Southern Ocean.
Two government departments manage South Africa’s Antarctic initiative. The DST, through the National Research Foundation, is responsible for science research, while the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism takes care of logistical management.
Saasta has produced a range of educational resources to popularise the work being done by South African scientists in Antarctica. There are fact sheets on Antarctic science, the international Antarctic Treaty and the history of the continent.
Then there is a series of six colourful and informative posters and four cartoon strips explaining different aspects of South Africa’s scientific involvement in Antarctica.
All of these resources can be downloaded from the Saasta Antarctica Month website.