Eskom Expo for Young Scientists had a Q&A session with Joaline Delport, 15, a learner at Hermanus High School in the Western Cape who won the opportunity to take part in a five-day virtual innovation and entrepreneurship bootcamp that will prepare learners to advance their innovations from idea to product development and new venture creation at the 2021 Eskom Expo International Science Fair. The bootcamp was sponsored by the Technology Innovation Agency, an implementing agency of the Department of Science and Innovation.
Question 1: How did you get involved with Eskom Expo for Young Scientists?
Joaline: It is compulsory for all Grade 8 and 9 learners at my school to do a scientific investigation for marks. If you have a good project idea, the school would encourage you to partake in Eskom Expo. Most students would do simple tests, but I knew this was a way for me to give back to my community, and thus came up with an original idea that would benefit the environment.
Question 2: Tell us about your 2021 science project and what inspired you to develop this kind of project?
Joaline: I spoke to the director of Whale Coast Conservation(WCC) at the beginning of 2021, who told me that they chip reeds to produce paper. I have also seen some of the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on the environment – such as the littering of masks. I then discovered that wooden coffins are extremely bad for our soil. This made me think as the result of the many deaths due to the pandemic, that all those bodies need to buried or cremated. I then thought of reed coffins, which would be eco-friendly and solve two problems: using the reeds for something useful and providing people with an eco-friendly coffin to bury their loved ones. I had made four miniature coffins (a plastic, wooden, bamboo and reed coffin) and tested the pH-levels of the soil before I placed them in the soil and after I had removed them.
Question 3: How do you feel about winning a special award at Eskom Expo ISF in 2021?
Joaline: I am truly honoured to have won such an amazing award and strive to do the same and maybe accomplish even more next year, and the year after.
Question 5: What and where do you hope to study after high school?
Joaline: To be honest with you, I’ve changed my mind so many times, but at the moment I am wishing to obtain a Geotechnical Engineering degree at Stellenbosch University. Although, I have not really planned my life that far, I have a rough estimate of where I would like to study.
Question 6: Why did you choose this field of study?
Joaline: I have always been fascinated with geography and have achieved 100% for it every term in 2021. I also love designing and building things, especially if it has to do with helping the environment. Anything to do with the Earth, its structure and nature, fascinates me.
Question 7: Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Joaline: I am in the A-team for netball and athletics. I like to run long-distance and do hurdles. I am currently learning how to surf, which is so ideal for a person living right on the beach in Voëlklip in Hermanus. I also like going for hikes in the mountains here in Hermanus. I am also in an Interact Club for my school where do we outreach programmes, such as visiting the old-age homes, doing beach clean-ups, helping the under privileged, etc.
Question 8: What advice do you have for up-and-coming young scientists?
Joaline: My advice for young scientists would be to start thinking of an idea as soon as possible, so that you have ample time to work on your projects. I would also advise them to think of problems in your surrounding area, and do a project that you are passionate about. Our generation is the future, and we need to think of innovative ways to save this planet.
Question 9: Do you have any plans for further Eskom Expo projects?
Joaline: I have a few ideas for 2022, but am going more towards the engineering side of Eskom Expo, rather than the scientific investigation side.