Young scientists shine at KZN Central regional expo

The KwaZulu-Natal Central regional finals of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists saw hundreds of budding young scientists display their science and innovation research projects.

A total of 264 learners from the region gathered at the UKZN Old Mutual Sports Hall recently to showcase their innovative science, engineering and social investigations, while 58 judges who are educators, specialists and scholars in the various competition categories and Eskom Expo enthusiasts evaluated and gave scores to the 245 projects that were on exhibition.

This regional expo was one of 35 regional expos planned in all provinces across South Africa – the first Eskom Expo physical science fairs since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the greatest number of entries were seen in the Engineering category with 59 entries. There were also 45 entries in the Energy category, 29 entries in the Biomedical and Medical Science category and 24 entries in the Social Sciences category.

Eskom Expo Regional Science Fair Director for KZN Central, Rekha Gopichand, said: “It was heartening to note that despite the challenges faced by the learners, their attendance at the Regional Expo and the enthusiasm demonstrates a thirst for knowledge that far exceeds the techniques gained from the formal lessons learnt during classroom teaching and learning. All stakeholders can be very proud of the learners’ efforts. It is my hope that this experience from Expo leaves an indelible mark which encourages the youth to seek careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, art and innovation.”

A total of 67 learners received bronze medals, while 75 received silver and 41 received gold. Learners from Star College received the most number of gold medals and medals overall.

The Eskom Special Award winners, who were awarded Bluetooth headsets, were:

  • Best Innovation Project: Mikaeel Hassim from Star College with the project titled “Mycoremediation: Use of edible oyster mushrooms in remediation of chemically polluted soils and for the decomposition of waste hydrocarbons”, in the Environmental Studies category;
  • Best Development: Nhlakanipho Dube from Embizeni High School with the project titled “Bioplastic from potatoes”, in the Environmental Studies category;
  • Best Female: Snethemba Maphumulo from Durban Girls Secondary School with the project titled “Crobbage”, in the Plant Science category;
  • Best Energy: Rishta Premlall from Star College with the project titled “Production of charcoal from organic materials”, in the Energy category.

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 Central region, contact Rekha Gopichand:

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