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Water World was originally an off-site venue for aquatic-related activities at the National Science Festival, in South Africa. Within a huge marquee, a “Pop Up” Science Centre was created for the week-long festival. Water World exhibits included: a display on the physical properties of water and how these relate to aquatic life; a display on the study of genes and the genetic diversity of fish, and a series of stands where research institutes showcase their research and interact with the public.

In addition to the “pop-up” event, an excursion was also organised, where participants head to the coast for a morning of exploring the estuaries and marine ecosystems surrounding the venue. Learners could also sign up to work as an apprentice at the Molecular Laboratory or in the Collections Management Centre. Here they would work alongside National Research Foundation (NRF)-SAIAB researchers and Postdoc Fellows.

Target Audience
  • Adult citizens
  • Children 7-12
  • Teenagers

You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.



Water World provided an amazing opportunity, not only for participants to learn about water and the kinds of research happening in and around water, but also to find out about the variety of careers in this field.

By bussing in learners from under-resourced schools and from rural areas, Water World provides an opportunity for learners who would not usually get the opportunity to visit the National Science Festival.


  • Coordinating with participating groups who work in or with water and/or aquatic organisms. To help set up stalls and activities.
  • Previously we hired a big marquee for the “Pop Up” venue, but in 2019 we held Water World at the main Sci-fest venue. This still meant providing an exhibition space scheme for exhibits.
  • We also organised transport for local learners from rural schools to attend Water World.


For 2020, NRF-SAIAB will concentrate on two large exhibits at Water World: one targeting senior school learners (focusing on the high-tech aspects of NRF-SAIAB research) and the other targeting junior school learners, which will be more hands on and interactive. Other stakeholders are still encouraged to participate at Water World as they have done in the past.