Café Scientifique

This is a concept pioneered in Europe and elsewhere in which a scientist talks to people in an informal context.

Science Café in Mamelodi and Soweto

The SAILS research thrust of the Marang Centre has engaged township communities with scientific issues. SAILS stands for Science Awareness, Informal Learning and Schools, and getting science across to the ‘public’ is a major initiative of the thrust. In 2010, in association with the SciEnza Discovery Centre of the University of Pretoria, we piloted Science Cafés in Mamelodi township, East of Pretoria. Café Scientifique (see is a world-wide movement which pairs a scientist with an audience in an informal setting. The aim is for the scientist to communicate their area of expertise to an interested public. Our version of Café Scientifique has two special criteria to suit the South African context. First, the café must take place where people live so that they do not have to travel, and second the scientist should ideally be black, to ‘role model’ that science can be done by everyone. In 2011 we ran cafés at the Rosa Parks Library, White City Jabavu, Soweto. Topics have included astronomy, copper extraction, the cell phone industry, sports science, biotechnology and others.  Once the cafés are running on a regular basis we will conduct research these innovative events for learning and community engagement in science.