Development agency, the Uitenhage-Despatch Development Initiative (UDDI), has been selected to host the prestigious 16th Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres (SAASTEC) conference next week.
Coming to the Eastern Cape for the first time in the last eight years and promising to attract the highest number of delegates to the conference to date, the three day international affair will be held at the UDDI’s R30 million Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre from November 18 -20 under the theme, ‘Science Centres – lighting up the way’.
The conference will be officiated by the deputy minister for the Department of Science and Technology, Honourable Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi, which will be followed by a line-up of acclaimed speakers including the executive director of the Sciencenter in New York, USA, Dr. Charlie Trautmann and Derek Fish of UniZulu Science Centre, to mention but a few.
“Over 180 delegates have confirmed their attendance to the conference, marking this year’s conference as the biggest to date as it will have the most number of papers submitted. SAASTEC is recognised by the Department of Science and Technology as a representative of interactive science centres in South Africa.
“The honour to host this conference also speaks volume of the Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology Centre’s innovative facilities which include 3800sqm of interactive exhibition space apportioned into seven zones boasting automotive, electricity, light and optics, light, momentum, life science, construction, sound and games exhibition areas,” says Nelson Mandela Bay Science and Technology curriculum and education officer, Chris McCartney.
McCartney says this is a significant milestone for the UDDI and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) which is actively promoting science and technology education as one of its strategic focus areas.
“Prior to proposing to host the conference we were well aware of the competition we were facing with other science centres having expressed interest as well. But the UDDI was convinced of its ability to host a successful conference. With the backing of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT), we were able to secure the rights,” McCartney adds.
It is anticipated that the conference will have a noticeable economic impact for the metro as a number of services had to be outsourced in order to ensure the hosting of a memorable conference. McCartney says the UDDI has contracted local suppliers ranging from caterers, accommodation, car rentals as well as crafters.
In keeping with the UDDI’s commitment to rolling out education, training and skills development programmes that will promote unique and exciting educational experiences, the UDDI has invited representatives from 20 local schools from disadvantaged communities to participate in workshops hosted during the course of the conference.
“Although numerous interventions in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) such as SciFest Africa, Eskom Science Expo exist, we are still faced with the challenge of appropriately coordinating these programmes to ensure effectiveness and be able to extend the UDDIs reach to more learners and areas. It is because of this that we have dedicated our existence to training educators, who in turn are responsible for giving guidance to the learners in their schools,” McCartney ends.
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/coup-for-uitenhage/42788/2014/11