Young innovator takes on restroom woes with paper recycling machine at Eskom Expo

In an effort to address the widespread issue of insufficient toilet paper in public restrooms, a 13-year-old Eskom Expo for Young Scientists participant embarked on a mission to create a paper recycling machine that not only solves this problem, but also tackles larger concerns.

Mujaahid Abdullah Gaidien from Spurwing Primary School in Eersterivier’s invention aimed to save money by producing cost-effective products, preserve trees, and leave a green footprint for a more sustainable future.

“I designed and created a paper recycling machine which recycles old, wasted paper and converts it into new clean products. I personally have experienced going to public restrooms where there was little to no toilet paper, which is very annoying and embarrassing. This inspired my paper recycling machine,” said Gaidien.

“I am very fond of challenges and goals, and participating at the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) in Boksburg was one of my most difficult challenges – but I persevered,” he said.

At the ISF, Ekhurleni Drums & Containers introduced the Shanice Francis Memorial Award, recognising a project that showcased a fresh perspective on waste management. This local small business, led by Saleem and Judelle Shaik, is a staunch advocate of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) education. In honour of his research project, Gaidien was presented with a high-end laptop, celebrating his commitment to sustainability and technological advancement.

“Winning the award felt amazing. I was so overjoyed, and could not believe how far I’ve come,” said the Grade 7 learner, who also bagged a Silver medal at the ISF.

“My favourite part of the Eskom Expo was making new friends from various places. I also enjoyed the judging process and the food,” he added.

Gaidien, who loves playing soccer and chess, aspires to pursue a future in mechanical- or software engineering.

Eskom Acting Group Executive for Government & Regulatory Affairs, Natasha Sithole, said: “Being a steadfast supporter of the Eskom Expo, we were overjoyed to witness how it has evolved into an amazing platform to nurture the aspirations of young scientists. Eskom firmly believes that investments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Innovation (STEMI) will assist in the formulation of enduring solutions to our nation’s pressing challenges. The ISF showcased youthful ingenuity, as learners explored diverse topics, from behavioural studies to pioneering experiments, IT, machine learning, artificial intelligence applications, and the application of physics and mathematics”.

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “Mujaahid’s innovation shows us that responsible actions for a sustainable future are not always complex and costly. His simple invention demonstrates that valuable recycling can be done by ordinary citizens on a small scale – the sum total of which can contribute to significant reductions in our carbon footprint. This young Grade 7 learner also attended to aspects of good research that we promote at Expo, for example, improving on several prototypes; identifying limitations; and making recommendations for future research”.

Eskom Expo ISF 2023 Special Award winners

Eskom Expo ISF 2023 Grand Award winners

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