Innovative young scientists to be awarded at Eskom Expo Virtual Awards

More than 500 of South Africa’s finest young scientists will be honoured at virtual awards ceremony following successful participation in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists 2020 online assessments.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown – which has led to the unavoidable cancellation of Expo’s premiere events – the awards ceremony will take place on 15 December at 4pm, and will be live streamed via the Eskom Expo YouTube channel.

The online assessments allowed participation from South African learners and 80 international learners from countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Turkey and Zimbabwe. This shows that the essence of the annual Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) was maintained to some degree, in a historic year impacted by the pandemic.

The pandemic forced young scientists to conduct their scientific research from home, and the majority of learners who entered projects, opted to explore research in the Engineering, Environmental Studies and Social Sciences categories, despite COVID-19 medical studies being a trending topic throughout the year.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, says that as the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the founder, the late Dr Derek Gray, would never have imagined that we’d have to resort to doing science experiments and science fairs online.

“However, his vision still holds true, by Eskom Expo continuing to be the oldest and only science fair to provide a truly non-racial platform for all learners to pursue their passion in science and engineering across our beautiful country,” says Chetty.

“Even during lockdown, Expo was able to be innovative and lead by example to ensure that no learner was left behind, by supporting them with a host of online resources and webinars, and we can eventually reward them with medal awards and a host of special awards ranging from laptops to university bursaries, at the 2020 virtual awards ceremony,” he adds.

Eskom has been the main funder of Expo for Young Scientists for several years, as the state-owned enterprise remains invested in developing a passion for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI), and giving a platform for these future problem-solvers to take their scientific interests to the next level.

Eskom General Manager of Risk and Sustainability, Andrew Etzinger said: “The resilience and innovation displayed by learners in submitting high quality projects despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is truly inspiring. We applaud the organisers and judges for sticking to their task throughout this exceptionally difficult time to make the competition and Expo possible”.

Some students will also be given the opportunity to attend a five-day virtual innovation and entrepreneurship boot camp in 2021 that will prepare learners to advance their innovations from idea to product development and new venture creation. The opportunity will be made available to 25 learners in 2021, through a partnership between Eskom Expo and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) – which is an implementing agency of the Department of Science and Innovation.

The public is invited to view the live stream of the virtual event via the Eskom Expo YouTube channel on 15 December at 4pm. Click here to watch live.

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