Advancing science communication and public engagement at AIMS

The AIMS House of Science is the coordination Hub of AIMS South Africa’s public engagement activities. Delivering public engagement and advancing leadership, knowledge and skills for scientific outreach and science communication for AIMS students and researchers. House of Science also provides mentoring and capacity building to enhance and up-scale AIMS students and researchers in research dissemination and community outreach.

Objectives

  • To build capacity and train AIMS students, researchers, academics and alumni so that they are better enabled, skilled and confident in undertaking public engagement activities, initiatives and community outreach.
  • To promote mathematics and science engagement with the broader community in Africa, showcasing mathematical sciences and its research applications conducted at AIMS.
  • To stimulate young people’s interest to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and become the next generation of scientists, leaders and problem solvers.
  • To improve the participation, progression and retention rates of women and girls in STEM-related fields.
  • To conduct research studies on various topical issues on science/maths communication and gender in STEM in Africa.

These objectives are critical given the pressing developmental challenges in South Africa and on the continent. It is imperative that we close the knowledge gaps that exist at all levels and which impacts on the pace of development in the country and on the continent. This attendant transformation and sustainable development agenda inherently drives the call for universities and research institutions to engage with the broader community, science and society engagements and the public learning and understanding of science (PLUS).

Flagship programmes

To further enhance the programmatic delivery the House of Science framework, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with African Gong – the Pan-African Network for the Popularization of Science & Technology and Science Communication. The partnership with African Gong allows a joint delivery and implementation of three specific programmes, two conceptualized by African Gong and one by both AIMS and African Gong. These include:

  • Africa Scientifique – a unique Training and Capacity-building programme designed for young and emerging African scientists, scholars and researchers (Masters’ and PhD’s students), to advance research expertise and capacity on the continent, and to build advanced skills, expertise and practice of science communication and research dissemination with the public in Africa.
  • Women Advancement Forum International Exchanges, Research & Academia (WAFIRA). WAFIRA is a highly innovative and African-centric capacity-building and training programme designed to meet the leadership development, career aspirations and professional development needs of African Women in STEM, in academia and research. It is very unique, ‘Made in Africa’, by African women, for African women, and delivered by African women. The programme is designed to enhance the skills, knowledge, networks, and information systems, of African women academics and researchers through mentoring programmes; international exchange programmes; successful research funding application techniques and methodologies; strategic career planning; and a whole other plethora of evidence-based good practice tools and instruments for their advancement in academia and research.
  • The Ishango Workshops on Mathematics Communication in Africa – “Communicating the ‘M’ in STEM in Africa’’. The Ishango Workshops is a unique gathering of mathematical sciences researchers, practitioners, communicators, mathematical sciences users, science policymakers across South Africa to discuss and work together on current issues of public engagement and communication of mathematics and the impacts of mathematical sciences research in the African society.

Added value enrichment programmes

The House of Science organises, co-host/participates in various events. The events include the Public Lectures Series, Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad (PAMO), AIMS Women in STEM, Pi-day Celebration, National Science Week, South African Women in Mathematical Sciences workshops, Job Shadowing, Learner Advancement, University students research/study visit at AIMS, etc.

For more information about this programme please contact Dr Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe (houseofscience@aims.ac.za) or visit https://sites.google.com/aims.ac.za/house-of-science