The 2023 Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) has reached a life-altering culmination as some young scientists emerged victorious, winning prestigious bursaries to advance their education, while others claimed substantial cash and other prizes.
The fair was held at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg, and brought together the brightest young scientists from across South Africa and various countries around the world. A total of 23 bursaries were awarded, along with various prizes.
The 2023 Top Senior Scientist, winning a R75,000 cash prize, was Likitha Chundru from Bryanston High School in Johannesburg. Chundru used a novel method to increase the germination and growth of non-legume plants using Rhizobium spp. Bacteria. Her meticulous attention to detail and rigorous research methods impressed the Judges at the ISF. Chundru’s findings will help farmers produce major crops within shorter time frames, making significant contributions to global food security.
Inge Higgins from Die Hoërskool Menlopark in Gauteng was awarded the 2023 Top Junior Scientist award, winning a R50,000 cash prize. Higgins’s research was entered in the Environmental Studies Category. She investigated the effect biodegradable olive-pulp plant pots had on the germination, and early growth of Afrikaner, Namaqualand Daisy and Sunflower seeds. In addition, she found that probiotics further accelerated the germination of these seeds. This Grade 9 learner impressed the Judges with her scientific investigative approach and novel research method.
Eskom Development Foundation Acting CEO, Mologadi Motshele, said: “At the Eskom Expo, young scientists are given the platform to apply their logical thinking, creativity, and innovation to address pressing problems within their communities. Eskom Development Foundation wholeheartedly provides support to these learners who are not only finding solutions but are emerging as inspirational figures among their peers. As they navigate the intricate landscape of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI), the Expo strives to ignite a lasting passion for innovation and steer them toward promising careers in these fields”.
A total of 54 gold, 92 silver and 105 bronze medals, along with 62 Highly Commended certificates were awarded at the ISF, while the coveted opportunity to represent South Africa at prominent international science fairs in the (Taiwan, Tunisia, Indonesia, Bali, USA, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ireland, Turkey and India) was awarded to deserving learners with the help of various long-standing sponsors of the Eskom Expo. These will be announced in the coming months.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty said: “I’m sure we have many finalists leaving the ISF2023 with mixed feelings; some happy to win big awards and many, sad to leave new friends behind, but all will be looking forward to telling new stories of their exciting experiences back at school. I wish to thank the thousands of volunteers mobilised across the country and at ISF, for volunteering their time to assist our young learners in improving their understanding of the sciences and supporting them all the way up to ISF 2023. We can achieve great things if we work together for a common goal.”