SA young scientists awarded at Taiwan International Science Fair

Two South African learners have been rewarded after successfully showcasing their scientific genius at the 2023 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF) which took place from 6 to 10 February 2023 at the National Taiwan Science Education Center in Taipei.

Jaco Jacobs, a Grade 12 learner at Outeniqua High School in George, in the Western Cape, was awarded a second award (South African equivalent of a silver medal); while Dia Singh, a Grade 12 learner at St Dominic’s School in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal was awarded a third award (South African equivalent of a bronze medal).

The research project by Jacobs, “Automated Inflation and Pressure Regulation for Recreational and Professional Cyclists”, found that for competitive cyclists, as well as amateurs, deflated or over-inflated tyres have always been problematic and more importantly, a safety hazard. The learner’s fourth prototype 3D-printed design automatically adjusts the tyre pressure while moving. Using this prototype, cyclists can also adjust the tyre pressure as the terrain of the track they are using changes.

Jacobs said: “I feel very grateful to have won an award. I have been working on this project for a very long time and have gone through many iterations. To get second prize in Taiwan is definitely a special achievement. I had a great experience taking part in the TISF, I really enjoyed exploring the city’s landmarks and culture, which was a highlight for me. I also enjoyed connecting with the locals and other international participants”.

The research project by Singh, “Using P.I.P. to strengthen roads: Plastic incinerated by plastic”, demonstrated that the fuel produced when plastic is burnt can be used to burn more plastic waste. In this way, one can get rid of plastic using an alternative fuel source. In addition, Singh developed the Plasticator mobile application, which allows for the monitoring of quantities and types of waste that have been incinerated. This data is then saved onto a database and can be used for analysis purposes.

Singh said:” Being selected by Eskom Expo to take part in the TISF was further than any goals I had set when starting work on my research project. The great amount of positive attention from Eskom Expo’s regional event and International Science Fair had given me confidence in the value of my project. To receive an award at the TISF was a great honour. I had no expectations of winning any awards as I had already felt that getting this far was success enough. The absolute thrill and joy I felt when receiving this award of third place in the Engineering category cannot be compared to any other feeling. The best part of the trip to Taiwan was the people. People from different backgrounds, countries and beliefs. Every person I met had left an impact on me, as they had shown me how different we are and how beautiful that can be. These networks and connections formed will be cherished”.

A total of 288 learners from 21 countries around the world competed in this year’s Taiwan International Science Fair. South Africa participates in this fair annually via the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, as it offers local learners an opportunity to present their research to their peers from other countries, while promoting cross-cultural communication and educational exchange.

Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sumaya Nassiep, said: “The impressive standard of the research of our local young scientists highlights the value that science and innovation can bring to solve some of our country’s most pressing developmental challenges. It is therefore important to encourage learners to participate in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, as it can be a life-changing experience that shapes their future careers and significantly impacts the local and international scientific community. The Expo is open to learners from all backgrounds and levels of education, and is an excellent way to support and nurture the next generation of scientific and engineering leaders in South Africa.”

Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said: “Eskom aims, through its investment in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, to cultivate a strong pipeline of scientists and engineers for the country while they are still at school. Growing future young scientists is for future proofing RSA and Africa. I am particularly proud of our two learners, whose innovations solve real world problems. I have no doubt that our two winning learners will continue to inspire the youth of our country as shining examples of what is possible within the STEMI space”.

Registration to take part in Eskom Expo is open. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with learners from TVET colleges that are in NC2 to NC4 can register their projects by clicking here.

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