SA young scientists to compete in high-tech Hong Kong science fair

Innovative South African scientific research about detecting and classifying cardiac arrhythmia and prosthesis control using muscle impulses will compete against other high-tech studies in the 2021 Virtual Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB) Science Fair in Hong Kong.

Eskom General Manager of Risk and Sustainability, Andrew Etzinger, said the GYSTB is a highly competitive science fair, and known for entries from participants with high-tech, cutting-edge research projects in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics.

“This highlights the international standard of our local projects. Eskom wishes the two participants, Kavya Kaushik and Catherine Kies who won silver medals in the 2020 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists competition, all the best as they compete against top young scientists from 26 different countries. Our investment in Eskom Expo’s development of young scientists and engineers remains unwavering,” said Etzinger.

Kavya Kaushik, 17, Grade 11 at Bryanston High School in Johannesburg, developed a machine learning model that accurately detects and classifies cardiac arrhythmia beats. This is a critical field of research in artificial intelligence that will assist healthcare workers with making quick and accurate diagnosis of the type of cardiac arrhythmia.

“Further development of this model has the potential to completely automate the task of diagnosis of this disease, and make it highly beneficial to the health care industry,” Kaushik said.

Catherine Kies, a Grade 10 learner at Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch, developed a hand prosthesis that is operated via the myoelectric impulses from a person’s arm. This entails moving one’s arm, and the exact movement is replicated by a mechanical claw. Kies used various methods and materials to develop the hand prosthesis with remarkable accuracy. The 15-year-old has contributed to a growing body of research on prosthesis control using muscle impulses.

“The claw is extremely simple and has only two positions – open and closed. If the system were to be used as a practical prosthesis, an advanced multi-finger hand would have to be designed. The software will need to be upgraded to allow for more controlled and proportional movements,” said Kies.

The GYSTB science fair is organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, and aims to provide a platform for global youth to develop their creativity and scientific mind-sets, and facilitate the exchange of scientific ideas, interests and abilities among young scientists all over the world. Judging takes place on 19 June, with an awards ceremony scheduled for 20 June.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “Even during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, passionate young scientists like Kavya and Catherine continue to follow their passion for the sciences and extend their classroom knowledge well beyond its borders, even as far as Hong Kong. As we celebrate youth month, we need to congratulate these young scientists for representing South Africa on the international stage.”

Registration is open for participation in Eskom Expo’s 2021 virtual provincial science fairs. Learners in grades 4 to 12 may register and upload project documents by clicking here.

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