A 16-year-old KwaZulu-Natal science boffin who used a Lego kit to construct and modify a robot to automate the COVID-19 screening and sanitising process, has been selected to represent South Africa in the 2021 Virtual Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the United States.
Suhaan Singh from St Dominic’s Academy in Newcastle won a bronze medal at the 2020 Eskom Expo International Science Fair, where he demonstrated an advanced and in-depth understanding of the engineering category, producing research at an international level. The project also addressed a contemporary issue, while the research was creative and novel.
Singh said the manual process of COVID-19 screening is inefficient and ineffective, as multiple personnel are required to man the screening station to record visitor details when entering an establishment, followed by sanitising hands and scanning their temperature.
“This causes a decline in work productivity and personnel’s working time to scan customers. The research conducted investigated ways to maximise the efficiency of the screening process by creating a mechanical means (robot) capable of executing the entire process,” said Singh.
Eskom General Manager of Risk and Sustainability, Andrew Etzinger, said: “Eskom contributes to the development of young scientists and engineers for the country, through investing in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. Eskom is proud that every year, our young scientists compete in the largest science fair in the world, Regeneron ISEF, and produces world class research projects to compete with the best in the world. Suhaan has demonstrated the innovation that is much needed in SA, to help make us internationally competitive, as he takes this step onto the international stage.”
The Regeneron ISEF event will occur the week of 16 to 21 May 2021, and learners in grades 9 to 12 will compete for nearly R73 million in awards, prizes and scholarships. Each year, more than 1 800 young scientists from around the world earn the right to compete at Regeneron ISEF by winning a top prize at a Society for Science-affiliated local, regional, state or national science fair.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “This is not the first learner from St Dominic’s school in Newcastle to represent South Africa at ISEF, so congratulations to the school for producing excellent young scientists each year. Suhaan has demonstrated how to identify problems/ challenges all around us, and then proceeded to solve one of them. This is a great example of extending what is learnt in school and applying it to the real world around us. Eskom Expo makes this possible.
Registration is open for participation in Eskom Expo’s virtual provincial science fairs. Learners in grades 4 to 12 may register and upload project documents by clicking here.