Two South African young scientists have been awarded opportunities to present their scientific research at this year’s Buca International Music, Science, Engineering Energy Fair (IMSEF) in Turkey.
The Buca IMSEF is an international conference which is held in Izmir, Turkey annually from 20 to 25 November 2023. It is aimed at school learners, with projects being accepted in all fields of science, engineering and music. Inge Higgins, a Grade 9 learner at Hoërskool Menlopark in Pretoria, and Vera van der Merwe, a Grade 10 learner at Bloemhof Hoër Meisieskool in Stellenbosch, were awarded at the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) after impressing judges with their pioneering research projects.
Higgins, who bagged the Top Junior Scientist title at this year’s ISF, will showcase her project, “The effect of biodegradable olive-pulp plant pots on the germination and early growth of seeds”. The number of olive trees have tripled over the years, increasing amounts of olive oil produced worldwide each year, resulting in excessive amounts of olive pulp.
The pots that Higgins made are suitable for the germination of seeds, with the intention of planting them afterwards. The olive-pulp pots can thus help to solve the problem of utilising the waste product of olive pressing, and partly also contribute to reducing the usage of plastic plant pots. Turkey is one of the leading countries in the production of olives and olive oil, making the fair fitting for Higgins’s project to be presented there. Her solution to the excess olive pulp is a great solution that is an environmentally friendly product instead of a plastic seedling pot.
Van der Merwe is set to showcase her research project, “The effect of sheep density and length of disturbance on Prosopis seedling germination”, which highlights how the alien plant, Mesquite, is affecting the farming communities in the Northern Cape in South Africa.
Mesquite, which spreads fast and threatens indigenous vegetation as they use up valuable and limited water, tends to easily establish itself along drainage lines and onto flood plains. They use valuable and limited water resources, especially in dry regions, and impact ecosystem function, biodiversity and local economies. This project will assist farmers to manage the spread of Mesquite on their farms.
Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Eskom Development Foundation, Mologadi Motshele said: “As our brilliant young scientists embark on the IMSEF in Turkey, we at Eskom extend our heartfelt wishes for a remarkable and enriching experience. International science fairs not only serve as platforms for showcasing ground-breaking research, but also provide unparalleled opportunities for personal and academic growth. We applaud their dedication and commend the Eskom Expo mentors, educators, and organisers who have played pivotal roles in nurturing their scientific journeys. May this journey be filled with discovery, collaboration, and the joy of shared knowledge”.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “When we see young girls like Inge and Vera solving problems in our natural environment, we are reassured that South Africa has the bright minds to shape the future of our country. It also brings to the fore the value of this unique platform provided by Eskom Expo, to encourage young scientists to step up, step forward, and follow their passion, while contributing as active citizens of our country. These young girls should be role models to other aspiring young girls in our school system”.
Learners from 14 countries, including South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Iran and Italy, amongst others, will compete at this year’s IMSEF. The IMSEF awards ceremony will take place on 24 November at 15h00 (SAST), and will stream via Facebook.