SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory

Public Outreach and Direct Educational Benefits

South Africa, more so than other developing countries, requires a sustained campaign to promote at all levels of society awareness and understanding of science, engineering and technology (SET) and their importance in the empowerment of individuals and communities to ensure the international competitiveness of the nation. Until recently, black people in South Africa had very limited access to SET education, training and careers. The specific objective of the Public Outreach Programme is the enhancement of science education and awareness throughout South African society. Citizens of South Africa (particularly students and youth) will be inspired and encouraged by the accomplishments of SALT.

The goals of the Public Outreach Programme could include, inter alia:

  • Media coverage of SALT developments, milestones and special events
  • Internet site on SALT featuring video camera exposures of SALT under construction
  • A time-lapse video over whole construction period (5 years)
  • Book on development of SALT (to be called "Africa�s Giant Eye")
  • Development of educational resources for South African schools at all levels
  • SALT models and astronomy exhibits on display at key public areas (e.g. planetariums, museums, science festivals, shopping malls.)
  • Support for training of science educators through astronomy
  • Starbus project for public outreach, including rural areas
  • A daily 2-min radio programme on astronomy called Star Date in collaboration with McDonald Observatory, Texas
  • Development of Science Education Visitor Centres (at Sutherland and in Cape Town)

Payoffs: Development of a more scientifically and technologically literate population. Interesting young people in science and technology. Encouraging and inspiring students to pursue careers in science and technology. If South Africa is to become a global power economically then a larger fraction of its population has to become scientifically and technologically literate.