Self-taught computer boffins to showcase their apps at Turkey science fair

Two finalists from the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists will present their projects at this year’s Buca International Music, Science, Engineering Energy Fair (IMSEF) in Turkey. Their self-taught skills culminated in an Android app that helps learners with mathematics, and a COVID-19 screening application.

Kutlwano Tshatiwa, Grade 11 at Gabonewe High School in the North West and Shadia Akter, Grade 11 at New Orleans Secondary School in the Western Cape, will participate in the fair virtually from 15 to 19 November 2021.

Tshatiwa became increasingly concerned about his peers who were struggling with mathematics. This, together with R200 and a passion for software development led him to conduct the Eskom Expo research project, “Mathgeek”, to help his peers. Using C# programming language, he developed the app to help Grade 9 learners with their mathematics. Eskom Expo judges were impressed with this young computer boffin who, without any formal lessons or training, mastered several apps, software, and programming languages. Considering that many learners may struggle with data costs, he is also working on an offline version of his app.

Akter conducted an extensive literature review, watched several tutorials, and attended the Eskom Expo Wednesday Workshops on app building to master Honeycode – an app builder to create custom apps – to create an app that helps schools to screen large numbers of learners efficiently. Her research was thorough and her journey was well documented, giving Eskom Expo judges insight into the trials and rewards of self-taught learning.

Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, wished the two self-taught young scientists well for the competition, and said: “Participating in international science fairs is an unrivalled opportunity for South African learners to take their research to the next levels.  Not only do they take to the global stage, but they also display their talent, and benefit from the exposure to other brilliant entries from across the globe. It is commendable that the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is affiliated with the most prestigious and competitive international science fairs, giving South African learners opportunities to connect with and learn from their contemporaries who are the best young minds in the world”.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “These young learners representing South Africa have done exceptionally well with their Eskom Expo projects, especially during lockdown when they did not always have access to their teachers. Their projects highlight the role the youth play in the 4th industrial revolution, by taking on complex projects using coding they had to learn on their own. I must also commend the Eskom Expo team for running the extremely valuable Wednesday workshops for learners across the country.”

International science fairs continue to be excellent opportunities for South African science boffins to grow intellectually and socially. For this reason, 2021 saw a number of local learners take part in international science fairs, including virtual tours to the Taiwan International Science Fair, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and the Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB) Science Fair in Hong Kong, amongst others.

Information on how to view the Buca IMSEF awards ceremony will be announced on the Eskom Expo social media platforms once it becomes available.

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