A 16-year-old young scientist has been awarded at the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) after successfully showcasing her research project, which focused on the development of a metallic barcode and its accompanying detection system.
With a strong commitment to finding solutions to pressing issues, Keamogetse Monnana’s research project tackles the problem of theft within local retail stores, where traditional security measures have proven insufficient in deterring shoplifting, particularly in rural areas. In her quest to combat this issue, Monnana devised a novel barcode constructed from metal powder and ink, coupled with a metallic barcode detector, aiming to significantly reduce theft and enhance the security of retail establishments.
“My 2023 research project was inspired by the growing problem of retail theft, particularly the theft of small products like soaps, lip balms, chocolates, etc. Retail stores can face a huge loss because of these small products, so preventing theft in retail stores is better than recovering from it. I wanted to find a way to reduce the occurrence of retail theft, and I thought that a metallic barcode and its detection system could be a good solution,” said Monnana, a grade 11 learner at Ramotshere High School in the Dinokana Village in Zeerust.
“I came up with the idea after studying the properties of different materials and learning about the benefits of using metals in the manufacturing of barcodes. I was inspired by the challenge of creating a system that could accurately and efficiently scan and detect the metallic barcode. I saw this as an opportunity to create a solution that could make a real difference in the retail industry,” said the Bronze medal winning learner.
At the ISF, Siemens Pty Ltd awarded R150,000 worth of mobile projectors to the best-performing previously disadvantaged schools, along with individual certificates to the learners for winning on behalf of their school – which included Monnana and her school.
Siemens: Innomotics also awarded R150,000 worth of laptops to learners from previously disadvantaged schools across South Africa – which included Monnana.
“It was a bit overwhelming to win all my awards at Eskom Expo ISF. I was very honoured and humbled to be recognised for my work. I didn’t expect to win so many awards, and it was definitely a surreal moment for me. I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that all my hard work had paid off. I also felt grateful for all the support I had received from my teachers, mentors, provincial coordinator and family. They all helped me to get to where I am today, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Monnana.
Eskom Acting Group Executive for Government & Regulatory Affairs, Natasha Sithole, said: “Being a steadfast supporter of the Eskom Expo, we were overjoyed to witness how it has evolved into an amazing platform to nurture the aspirations of young scientists. Eskom firmly believes that investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Innovation (STEMI) will assist in the formulation of enduring solutions to our nation’s pressing challenges. The ISF showcased youthful ingenuity, as learners explored diverse topics, from behavioural studies to pioneering experiments, IT, machine learning, artificial intelligence applications, and the application of physics and mathematics”.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “Eskom Expo is pleased to provide the platform for the only national event of its kind, whereby these learners start their journey at the school level and over many months, progress to higher levels of competition, culminating in the International Science Fair. Keamogetse was motivated by a real-life problem of crime in her community and set about coming up with a technology solution, which I’m sure, will motivate many other girls into the technology field. It’s also important to encourage schools to participate in the Expo as there are lots of valuable awards for the institution as well, to enable them to provide a better quality of education in the rural areas.”