The KwaZulu-Natal Far North regional finals of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists were held at King Bhekuzulu High School for Zululand District and Sisizakele Special School for Umkanyakude District where learners had the opportunity to display their science and innovation research projects.
A total of 181 learners from the region gathered recently to showcase their innovative science, engineering and social investigations, while 54 judges who are educators, specialists and scholars in the various competition categories and Eskom Expo enthusiasts evaluated and gave scores to the 137 projects that were on exhibition.
This year, the most number of entries were seen in the Engineering category with 45 entries. There were also a significant number of entries in the Social Science category.
Eskom Expo’s KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Coordinator, Nalini Dookie said: “With the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence, there has been a huge interest in the field of coding and computer engineering at the expos, with many of the tech boffins using their expo projects to learn or enhance their coding skills. Participating in the annual regional expos is an ideal opportunity for learners to engage in scientific enquiry and technological research, extending their own knowledge far beyond the scope of the classroom. Despite limited resources, learners were not daunted from participating. Their creative use of recycled and available materials ensured unique constructions.”
A total of 47 learners received bronze medals, while 10 received silver and five received gold. Special prizes were awarded to Joy House Private and Nkobide Secondary for having the most number of entries in the primary and high school categories respectively.
The Eskom Special Award winners were Best Development Project was awarded to Nyiko Manzini from Hamibisani Secondary School. Best Innovation Project went to Thandolwethu Bukhosini while the Best Energy Project was awarded to Sqiniseko Mpontshane – both learners from Mandla Mthethwa School of Excellence. The Best Female Project was scooped by two budding young researchers, Ndumiso Dlangalala and Kuhlekonke Mkhize from Joy House Private School, impressing the judges with their Agricultural Science Project on “How to improve the production of food in urban areas around Jozini”. All recipients of the Eskom Special Awards received a set of the state of the art blue tooth headphones.
Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Cecil Ramonotsi, said: “As the funder of Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, it has been a welcoming return to form to be able to host a physical expo in the region this year. It was impressive how learners, especially previously disadvantaged learners and girls, were able to develop such innovative projects while still at school, giving assurance that the future is in good hands. Eskom is investing in young scientists through Eskom Expo, which forms part of a broader Eskom strategy of skills development, investing in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) at school level.”
Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said: “Eskom is committed to nurturing South Africa’s brightest young minds through regional science fairs, where they are able to present their innovations and exposed to the diversity of career opportunities in the scientific world. Eskom Expo remains one of our flagship corporate citizenship initiatives, through which we actively develop the innovation potential, presentation skills and competitive edge of our young scientists. Congratulations to all medal winners who we trust will make even greater strides at the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF).”
Learners in the region who advance to the ISF, which will be held in December, will compete against the best performing young scientists around the country. At this prestigious event, learners stand a chance to win prizes and bursaries, along with scholarships and various opportunities. Learners also stand a chance to be selected to showcase their research or innovation in an international science fair in the United States of America, Asia, Europe and the rest of Africa.
For more information on the KZN Far North region, contact: 084 616 3273