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Learners turn passion for science into problem-solving innovations at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists Johannesburg regional expo.

On 28 July over 600 learners from around Johannesburg competed at Wits University with remarkable innovations in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists Johannesburg regional competition. 

The excited participants presented their hypotheses, research and conclusions to a team of discerning judges in the hope of earning a medal, and to get the chance to take part in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) in Johannesburg from 3-6 October.

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Young scientists, who have mastered scientific investigative methods, will showcase their ingenuity, creativity and talent at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. Gatherings of these brilliant minds will gain momentum through 35 regional science fairs in nine provinces.

The first of the 35 nationwide regional finals begin in Johannesburg and Kimberley on 28 July and run until the end of August, leading up to the prestigious International Science Fair (ISF) at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg from 3 – 6 October.

At the much anticipated 2017 regional finals, an increase in the number of schools participating in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is expected. “Last year saw a 43% increase in school participation and with this year’s strategy geared towards expansion in this area, particularly for rural and no fee paying schools, this number is expected to increase”, says Executive Director of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, Parthy Chetty.

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Andries Els and Christofel Barnard (both 17) won most innovative science project overall at the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair which concluded on Saturday, 17 June.

This was the first time the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists sent a delegation representing South Africa to this prestigious science fair.

The project aimed to analyze the effect of thermodynamics of everyday materials and see how the thermodynamic laws influenced the thermal properties of a cooler-box, made from household and easily accessible materials such as old newspapers.

These experiments were done by using 150ml sized ice blocks and placed in 1liter containers of different materials, and then opening the containers at different intervals.

The tests were conducted using newspapers and expanded polystyrene and provided the best results in constricting heat-flow to the insides of the cooler thereby keeping the ice cold.

The pair’s investigation concluded that newspaper layers and expanded polystyrene provided the best results, and that the first law of thermodynamics (which states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed in an isolated system) had the largest effect on the result. A further observation showed that a combination of the two materials provided a far superior resistance to temperature changes.

The two learners also came second in the physics category and also received the prize for the most innovative project in the category. The pair designed a cost and energy efficient coolerbox and have also been invited to participate at the Kenya Science Week in Nairobi in May 2018.

“Eskom is a world class energy provider and is proud to be the driving force behind the Eskom Expo for young scientists, which provides this fantastic platform for budding young scientists to thrive. The international competitiveness of our country lies in the hands of young scientists and innovators like these two budding scientists,” says Thava Govender, Group Executive: Transmission and Acting Group Executive Sustainability & Risk

On 2 May 2017, three very excited learners from South Africa depart from the OR Tambo international airport to participate in the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) in Houston, USA, taking place from 3-8 May. It is the largest science fair event of its kind in the world with this speciality.

These three learners did exceptionally well in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Finals in October 2016 and therefore have the honour of representing South Africa. The learners are excited and look forward to meeting likeminded learners from all over the world and learning about their cultures and different science projects. They will present the following projects at this international stage:

  • Sanele Msizi Hlongwane from Ladysmith, will present his project titled “Propellant Cheapskates”. The purpose of this project is to determine whether different propellant families used in amateur rockets can be improved so that they can perform nearly as powerful as industrial propellants used in commercial and private rockets.
  • Cornelis Rautenbach from Pretoria, will present his project titled “The El Nino Southern Oscillation and rainfall in South Africa”. In South Africa it is a general perception that El Niño seasons are associated with overall droughts, while La Niña seasons are associated with overall wetter conditions. In the study this perception was tested by investigating whether the influence of El Niño and La Niña seasons are month and area dependant instead of weather dependant.
  • Junho Ko from Cape Town, will present his project titled “Decreasing Temperature and Retaining Hot Water in Informal Settlements using Plastic Bottles filled with Water”. Millions of people living in South Africa are forced to live in informal settlements, and the heat induced by these "shacks" can cause many heat related problems for the people living in the shacks. Junho decided to come up with a cheap, easy-to-use solution for this problem.

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