Regeneron Science Fair: Shining success for SA young scientists

South African young scientists made a remarkable impression by securing both a Special Award and a Community Award at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held in Los Angeles, California.

The Regeneron ISEF was held at the Los Angeles Convention Centre from 11 – 17 May 2024, featured young scientists representing 49 U.S. states and nearly 70 countries, regions, and territories across the world. Eskom Expo for the Young Scientists (EEYS) also participated where few young South African learners represented our country, South Africa to demonstrate their talent and innovation skills.

Nicholas Zhang and Zaahid Sader from the UJ Academy Maths, Science & ICT School of Specialisation in Johannesburg received a full scholarship award sponsored by the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. The duo showcased their project, entitled, “Enhancing Bobsleigh Performance Through Biomimetic Design Inspired by the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis).

“We are absolutely thrilled about the recognition and the awards we have received at this most competitive ISEF, and this is a great deal not only us them the most enriching experiences we could ever have. It was not easy to reach this level and we are excited that our perseverance has won us this recognition. Connecting with like-minded individuals and engaging in insightful conversations was truly inspiring and enabled us to discover a wealth of knowledge. We want to urge our fellow students never to undermine and lose sight of the power of their dreams. Through Eskom Expo, you uncover limitless opportunities and possibilities, and the youth must seize every opportunity presented to them in pursuing their passion for science and engineering, they said”.

The other award winner was Matthew Collier-Reed, a Grade 12 learner at Pinelands High School, Cape Town, for the project, entitled, “Community support: connecting in-need individuals with essential services in South Africa through an accessible instant messaging service”. Collier-Reed was one of the recipients of the Regeneron Community Award, valued at $500 (USD) prize (about R9 076), and his project was amongst the 30 to receive recognition out of nearly 1 700 participants who had presented their projects to demonstrate their commitment in addressing local community challenges and problems to positively impact their communities.

Collier-Reed said, “It’s an honour to receive the Community Innovation award. However, it’s less about me and more about the recognition being given to community support projects, a testimony that it’s possible for young people to make a difference in in communities and bring growth and sustainability in our society. “The entire experience was a ton of fun meeting new, like-minded people, and an opportunity to learn about all the different cultures, it was an amazing experience, he added”.

We congratulate all the other learners who reached this level, Keamogetse Precious Monna from Ramotshere High School in Ngaka Modiri Molema, North West; Likitha Chundru from Bryanston High School in Johannesburg; and Alutha Botha from Nombulelo Secondary School in Makhanda (Grahamstown).

The Chief Executive Officer of the Eskom Development Foundation (Acting), Ms Mologadi Motshele, said, “Eskom leadership and all its employees take immense pride in the accomplishments made by these learners, our future scientists, and engineers. After being finalists in the 2023 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, they managed to successfully represent South Africa in the world’s largest pre-college STEMI competition. She further said that development and sustainability are at the heart of Eskom’s business, and the investment made in the Expo is a demonstration of our commitment to create a shared value in addressing the country’s socio-economic challenges. Eskom has since 1999 provided invaluable opportunities for the youth to expand their intellectual and social horizons through Eskom Expo, and every year we appreciate the impact, value, the return on investment being realised and which is being recognised worldwide.

Ms Motshele concluded by saying that “Eskom remains committed in its efforts and contribution to combat current and future socio-economic challenges facing our country, which is in support of the national agenda towards STEMI programmes. Eskom’s focus on youth educational programmes in partnership with other institutions is aimed towards the integral development of the future critical skills required in South Africa. It is for this reason that Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is venturing beyond local, regional, national, and international platforms to unlock new avenues that foster youth innovation and networks across the globe. We are grateful that Eskom Expo stands as one of Eskom’s strategic and national initiatives which serves as a vital driver of sustainability, contributing to youth development, enabling, and preparing South African youth’s active participation in strategic fields and industries to build and grow our economy”.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “We are extremely proud of all the leaners as they competed with the best in the world. The new experiences and the networks the learners had will surely add to their scrapbook of memories that will last a lifetime. The learner participation up to this highest level and the awards won is a demonstration of the continuous support from Eskom leadership and management to make Eskom Expo a national and international success, as well as the teacher’s hard the learners’ perseverance, and commitment by the Eskom Expo staff, mentors and all the volunteers in the Expo programme”.

Registration to take part in 2024 Eskom Expo is open, with District Expos currently underway. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with learners from TVET colleges (NC2 to NC4) can register their projects by clicking here.

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