Sibo’s Science Story Competition

Sibo smiling

National Science Week runs from the 1 – 8 of August. The theme this year is International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies. This is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology. The idea behind it is to underline that science really is for everybody – young and old alike – and it is all around us. Various institutions – not only science centres – around the country celebrate this event by holding different kinds of activities. There are also expos in shopping malls, special talks, workshops and many other events.

I am also celebrating.  I’m having a science story competition and you are invited to write a short story using the “cool words” that appear at the end of her weekly blog in the African Reporter. Don’t worry if you missed them – you can also visit her real blog and find them there (plus the meanings).

The winning stories will be printed in the Springs Advertiser and African Reporter and will also feature on Sibo’s website and blog ( . First prize will win an autographed set of Sibo’s Story Books (12 titles). Second prize wins 6 Sibo titles (of your choice) and third prize wins 2 Sibo titles (of your choice).


  • The story needs to have a science slant to it – using at least 15 of the 21 cool words.
  • It should not be more than 500 words
  • Both adults and children are welcome to enter.
  • Entries must reach us on or before Friday 14th August 2015.
  • You can email them to .
  • Fax them to 086-242 2187
  • Or send them via post to :

Sibo’s Science Story Competition
Postnet Suite 180
Private Bag x1
The Willows

Cool words: array; galvanize, dollop, follicle, discombobulated, argle-bargle, chuffed, acne, photonics, snigger, dank, tolerance, agitated, nook, dodgy, miffed, pow-wow, skulk, vamoose, vim, heebie-jeebies.

You’ll either have to use a dictionary if you don’t know what any of these words mean… or trawl through all the blogs. If you find a blog without a cool word – it was written in the holidays. We don’t do cool words in the holidays.

Good luck!


National Science Week

Sibo and the rainbow

Hey guys!

Hope you all enjoyed your holidays and got to do some cool things. I can’t believe that they flew by so fast. Almost as fast as that fancy fast car I was telling you all about last week.

Much as I am sad that holidays have ended, I’m always pleased to go back to school.

I found out that it is National Science Week in the first week of August (1-7th). This is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and there will be all sorts of exciting activities going on around the country during this week.

Obviously at places like Sci-Bono Discovery Centre they have whole programs organised. Maybe you should ask your teacher to check out what is going on – or you can go to their website and see for yourself.

There will also be lots of events and expos at shopping malls and other interesting places. Keep an eye out.

This year the theme is International Year of Light and light-based technologies.  I know we spoke a bit about light several blogs ago.  We always tend to think that dear old Eskom is responsible for the light – the ones you turn on and off – but there is just so much more to light than the electricity stuff.

Have you ever thought about natural light – for example light in nature?

Just think about one of the most frequent visual displays of light in nature… sunsets! Sunsets are a result of refraction. In astronomy, sunset is the point when the trailing edge of the Sun’s sphere disappears below the horizon. The brilliant array of colours that appear in the sky during sunset are created by scattered airborne particles passing through rays of white sunlight travelling through the atmosphere. Because the evening air contains more particles than morning air (okay – this is pollution we are talking about), sunsets are typically more radiantly coloured than sunrises.

Then there are rainbows… a rainbow is a beautiful natural phenomenon that occurs when drops of rainwater meet sunlight. The multi-coloured arch is produced by a major process called refraction, or the “bending” of light.

And let’s face it – all our food grows because of light. Without it – the cupboards would be bare.

If you can think of other sources of light… let me know.


Cool word for the week: Array

Meaning: selection, collection, display, range

Example: My Dad has a wonderful array of books – I think he has just a book on about every topic one could think of.

Science Centres and rocket cars


Nanogirl Sibo 001I was so lucky the other day – my Dad took me to visit the big science centre in Jozi. It’s called Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and it’s actually in Newtown. I’d been bugging our teacher to take our class for ages, but somehow there never seems to be the time and it’s quite a mission to organise outings, I know that.

Dad had the day off and decided we should do something interesting. We invited Mum to come along too, but she said she’d rather watch paint dry that have to fiddle with all sorts of sciency stuff. She missed out big time!

Sjoe! That place is seriously cool. There is so much stuff to do. I learnt such a lot just playing with the exhibits. Some of the stuff Dad had to explain to me, and if he did not know, there were very helpful people who you could ask.

We also went to a science show called “Bloodhound: an engineering adventure”. Wow! That was beyond awesome. Even Dad was impressed.

They told us about a project that is happening in Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape. The BLOODHOUND SSC. You are probably wondering what SSC stands for… Supersonic car. This car, that looks more like a rocket, is supersonic because it is designed to go the speed of sound – in this case just over 1600 km per hour. But even though it looks like a rocket, it’s a car because it has four wheels and the person driving it has full control. Obviously – not just anybody can drive such a creation.

What’s really cool about this project, apart from the fact that they are going to drive so fast, is that the people who are in charge of the whole thing are very keen to create an interest in maths, science and engineering amongst the kids in South Africa. They also have very awesome workshops that they do in schools.

The science show was all about rockets and going fast. Things whizzed, fizzed and banged. It was wonderful.

Anybody can go to Sci-Bono – it does not cost that much to get in – less than the movies and its much more fun. And did you know there are actually lots of science centres in South Africa – all over the place. They are not all as big as Sci-Bono but I bet they are really cool too.

Have fun.


Visit this website if you want to find out more about the BLOODHOUND SSC  project, or do some cool stuff at home or at school .

This picture is at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre. This is a model replica of the Bloodhound car. Cool hey!


By the way – if you want to know more about science centres you can visit the SAASTEC website or you can read the latest newsletter about all the exciting things that go on at the science centres around South Africa.



Holiday Fun

Sibo T-shirt

I was thinking that a good project to do in the holidays is tie-dying an old white or light coloured T-shirt that is worn out or stained. You can give it a new lease of life by painting it.

You need some fabric paint, old plastic cool drink bottles – with their lids plus a few extra lids, and an old plastic container (like a margarine tub or something), medium sized elastic bands, water, a garbage bag and 4 stones (or something heavy to anchor the bag on the grass).

Maybe it’s best to experiment first with an old pillowcase or something – just until you get the hang of it. Also, it’s fun to team up with some of your friends and get them to buy different colours of fabric paint – that way you can all share.

Take a few teaspoonful’s of one colour of fabric paint and put it in the old container. Add about half a glass of water. Mix it up well. Carefully pour it into one of the cool drink bottles – if there is still paint left in the bottom of the container – add a bit more water, swish it around and add it to the bottle.  Put the lid on the bottle and give it a good shake.

For each different colour of paint – make a separate bottle. Be careful to wash out the container that you mix in each time – otherwise you’ll mix your colours up.

Take the extra lids and make little holes in them – using a nail or something sharp. Replace the whole lids with the holey ones.

Take the item you want to dye, grab a small handful of the fabric and put an elastic band around it. A bit like you are giving your t-shirt a pony tail. Do that all over the shirt – make lots of pony tails.

Spread the black bag on the floor (outside of course, and make sure you are wearing old clothes) put your item down and sprinkle it with colour from a bottle.  Smoosh the paint in with your hands (this is the fun part).  Add more colours if you want to.

Replace the holey lids with whole lids when you are finished. You can use leftover paint again.

Hang the t-shirt on the line to dry.  Wait until it is properly dry before taking off the rubber bands.

Make sure you iron the T-shirt before you wear it – the heat sets the paint so that it does not wash out.

Have fun. Send me pictures if you want to.


For more details and pictures visit my other blog.

Meanie Mozzies

Sibo taking a pill

Hi Everybody.

It’s cool to have no school for a couple of weeks? Have you all been to the library to get some books to read? If you are not a member already – it’s easy to join. Pop in and find out what you need to do to become a member.  Sometimes they have interesting programmes running during the holidays too – you don’t want to miss out.

I’m super excited because we’re going to visit my family in Limpopo for a few days.  We always have such fun. Only problem is… they live in a malaria area. The mozzies are mean there. It’s not so bad when it is winter but still, my mum is a bit neurotic about us getting sick, so we take the anti-malaria pills anyway. Malaria is an extremely nasty disease. It’s responsible for killing lots and lots of people every year, especially babies.

Apparently it feels a bit like getting flu – you have a fever, headache, get the chills, feel like throwing up and have achy bones.

That sounds just nasty.

There are other things you can do to not get bitten by that sneaky Anopheles mosquito – and it really is only that particular species of mozzie that gives people (and animals) malaria.

You can sleep under a mozzie net. That’s really cool. Last time we visited I slept under one and felt just like a princess. I would not mind having one at home. You can also make sure you wear long sleeved shirts and long pants at night time – it’s good to wear socks too. That makes it even more difficult for the little biters to get to your skin.

They breed in puddles of water that is not moving – so it’s a good idea to make sure that there are no tires or tins hanging around the house that have smelly old water in them.

If you get bitten by a normal mozzie in a non-malaria area – here are some tips on how to stop the bite from itching. I’m not sure if they all work or not, but some people swear by them…

A dab of vanilla essence, Vicks, spit (yes, really), tee tree oil, clear nail polish, calamine lotion, aloe vera and you can rub a peeled clove of garlic on the bite – except then you smell like pizza!

Have fun in the holidays – remember you can visit my website and download stuff to do –


PS – I’ve got a book called Sibo Fights Malaria that was sponsored by the University of Pretoria Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control and The Department of Health – go have a look.

Stop Malaria 4


Bare bones

Sibo 5

Seeing as we’ve chatted about skin and hair, I figured maybe we should finish off this body stuff with some info about bones.

We all take our bones for granted too. Unless we break one that is – then we realise that they are quite useful things. I’ve never broken a bone before – but I know a friend who did and he said it was not only sore – but wearing the plaster of Paris cast was a real pain in the butt.

Imagine if we did not have any bones – we’d be a puddle of skin, hair and guts flopping around on the floor. Seriously gross hey!

We are born with around 300 bones, but some of them fuse together as we grow and by the time we are all grown up we have 206 bones. Our bones keep growing until we are in our 20’s and by the time we hit our 30’s our bones have reached maximum density.

The longest bone in our bodies is the thigh bone – this is called the femur. The smallest bone is found in the middle ear. The staples (or stirrup) bone is only 2.8 millimetres long. That’s pretty small. Good job it’s attached to other bones and it can’t get lost!

Every single one of those 206 bones has a name too. Just imagine… if you wanted to study orthopaedics you’d have to learn all of them. Eish!

Like our skin, the human body’s bones are also constantly worn down and re-made, to the point where every 7 years we essentially have a new bone.

Hah! That’s an interesting fact. Next time my Gogo tells me I make her old bones tired – I can tell her that her bones are not so old after all!

Calcium is very important to keep our bones healthy. This means we need to drink milk and eat stuff like cheese, yoghurt and buttermilk. Believe it or not broccoli, kale, bok choy, almonds, figs, oranges and white beans are also great sources of calcium.

There’s a cool worksheet on how to make a skeleton out of paper on my website. If you are bored in the holidays – go check it out .

Take care of your bones,



Cool interesting word for the week: Galvanize

Meaning: To shock or excite somebody into taking action.

Example: Sibo’s aunt was galvanized into eating more calcium rich food to help build up her bones after she broke her hip.

Skinny facts

Rude Sibo

The other day I fell in the garden and grated my knees. The skin was all broken and breeding. It was jolly sore and hurt like crazy when my mum cleaned them up with disinfectant.

Ooooh ouch!

So I started thinking about skin…

We all probably take our skin for granted. It’s that stretchy waterproof stuff that covers our entire body. It stops our insides from drying out. It also stops dirt and germs from getting in.

It’s tough enough to withstand most scratches and bangs and yet… it’s only 2mm thick – no matter what colour it is.

Take a ruler and measure 2mm – not very thick, is it? Yet packed into that 2mm of skin are sweat glands, hair roots, blood vessels and nerves.

Do you know there are more than 100 sweat glands for each square centimetre of skin? Every day you lose between 0.5 and 1 litre of sweat and you probably don’t even realise it.  If you are playing a sport in the sun you would lose around 1.7 litres an hour.  It’s very important that you replace that fluid by drinking, otherwise you become dehydrated.

Guess where the thickest skin is on your body?  Yup – that’s right… the skin on the soles of your feet is 3mm thick.  On the other hand, your eyelids are only 1mm thick. That’s why when you close your eyes in the sun you can still see a bright colour. Go on – try it. Put your face in the sun and close your eyes. Then face a wall and close your eyes. What’s the difference?

Lips and fingertips are the most sensitive parts of your body. Your tongue is also pretty sensitive – that’s why pieces of food stuck between your teeth seem really huge to your tongue, when actually they are tiny.

This is a bit yucky… did you know that you shed a complete layer of skin every month. New skin is forming all the time below the old skin. Most of the dust in your house is actually dead skin. Ergh gross!

All in all though – our skin is amazing, precious stuff and we should look after it.

Keep warm,



Cool word for the week: Dollop.

Meaning: A blob of something.

Example: Sibo’s dad added a dollop of tomato sauce to his cheeseburger to make it tastier.

Hairy Tales

Sibo smilingI found out some interesting stuff about hair the other day.

Sometimes we have good hair days and sometimes we have bad hair days. But often our hair is just there. We scrape it back into a pony tail or slap on an Alice band or some pretty clips and off we go.

Mostly we just take our hair for granted.

Did you know… your hair grows about 3mm a week. That is more than 15cm a year. In a lifetime, you produce about 8.5 metres of new hair, but whether you cut it or not – you’d never be able to grow it that long.

Not that you’d want to because you’d be tripping over it all the time.

And just imagine having to wash and dry so much hair.

No thank you.

You lose between 30 and 60 hairs every single day. But before you begin to panic about going bald – that still leaves you with about 100,000 hairs. Plus new hairs are growing all the time.

Each hair on your head lasts from one to six years, before the hair root withers and the hair drops out.

After about 3 or 4 months rest, the hair root starts to produce a new hair.

So you see – you never would be able to grow your hair that long, although apparently some woman in Sweden did manage to grow her hair 3.2 metres long. Eish!

Of course, hair and nails are made of dead cells. This means they are not fed by blood or nerves so you can happily cut them without it hurting.

In case you are wondering how your hair does grow – it grows from the hair root in the skin. The hair root is fed by blood and nerves, so if you pull your hair out – it certainly is going to hurt.

It’s quite funny – if you pull just one hair out, it probably hurts more than if you pull a handful of hairs. This is because the pull is spread across many different hairs.

So next time you wash and dry your hair, have a little think about the fact that it’s actually quite awesome stuff!


Cool word for the week: Follicle

Meaning: A hair follicle is a part of the skin, which grows a hair by packing old cells together.

Example: The average growth rate of healthy hair follicles on the scalp is around 12 mm a month


Wish the flu would fly away

Sibo handsYuk! I’ve been sick. Mum even made me stay home from school for a few days. She said there was no point in me going to the doctor because it was just flu. It would take seven days to get better – whether I went to the doctor or not.

Ghah! It might be just flu – but it did not feel very good.

She gave me lots of vitamin C tablets – the nice chewy ones that taste like orange and lots of orange juice to drink.

I reminded her that peppers have more vitamin C in them than oranges.

Mum gave me a skeef look and told me that I was Miss Know-it-all – even when I was sick. How would I like to drink pepper juice instead?

Hmmm…. not sure that pepper juice would be very tasty come to think of it.

Dad was busy reading his paper. He moved it a little bit so I could see his face and winked at me.

That made me feel better. Dad knows I like to learn lots of different stuff.

Mum has this rule – if I stay home from school I have to stay in bed. I pointed out that I would have much rather gone to school – even if I was sick. She said I should stay home.

So we compromised. I stayed in bed half the day and watched TV the other half. Mum said when you are sick, your body needs to rest in order to get well again. You need lots of sleep too.

Sjoe! I was so sick and tired of having a runny nose. I used up a whole box of tissues and two toilet rolls. Mum put Vicks under my nose so that I could breathe better.

After a few days I organised with my friend Lizzie to bring me all the work from school that I was missing. I thought this was a clever sneaky way of seeing my friend – but my plan backfired.

Mum would not let her into my room. She said my germs would make Lizzie sick and that would be mean. Mom talked so much argle-bargle that I closed my eyes and pretended to fall asleep.

She tip-toed out and left me in peace.

I’m better now.


Cool (long) word for the week: Discombobulated (dis-com-bob-u lated)

Meaning: to be upset or frustrated

Example: Sibo was discombobulated because she was sick and had to miss school for a few days.