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!



Sibo and the rainbowDid you know that 2015 is International Year of Light and Light-Based technologies?

Probably we mostly think of light as being that stuff that Eskom turns off every now and then, but it’s more, much much more.

Can you think of some other ways that light is used?

Hmmm… what about CD or DVD players – they use lasers. In 1982 CD players became the first laser equipped device readily found in the home.

Ooohhh – but what exactly is a laser?

Well, regular light from the sun or from a light bulb really contains all the colours of the rainbow. But you have to split it up to see this. You can split white light up into its colours using a prism (raindrops act like tiny prisms when they make a rainbow in the sky).

A laser is a special source of light of only one pure colour (or wavelength). You can’t break up laser light into other colours.

So what is so cool about laser light?

They can focus. It’s not like a torch at all. Just think when you shine a torch, the beam of light goes wider and wider. But a laser beam can be focussed to a very small spot (it does not spread out) and can shine for long distances.

That laser spot contains lots of energy. So much so that it can even be used for cutting stuff like thick metal.

Even more exciting, small laser beams are used in surgery, like scalpels.


BUT… lasers can be extremely dangerous if used irresponsibly. Recently, some kids at school got permanent eye damage from fooling around with laser pointers. In fact, you are now no longer allowed to take lasers to school in the Gauteng province. Shining a laser pointer into somebody’s eye is just silly. Don’t do it.

We haven’t even touched the surface about all the cool stuff lasers can do. If you know of some other uses of lasers – why don’t you write me a letter care of the African Reporter – I’d love to hear from you. Or email me.

If you visit my website – you’ll find a cool experiment on how to bend light.


Cool word for the week: Photonics

Meaning: Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons, which are particles of light.

Example: When I grow up I want to study photonics.