Enthusiastic young scientists seized the opportunity to exhibit their remarkable scientific and innovative research projects at this year’s regional final of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists in the Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) Regional Expo.
A notable turnout of 95 learners in grades 4 to 12 from the region gathered to present their research projects at the event held on Saturday, 29 July 2023. The evaluation of the 81 projects on display was carried out by 89 judges, comprising educators, specialists, scholars, and avid Eskom Expo supporters.
This regional expo was one of 38 regional expos planned across all provinces in South Africa. This year witnessed an impressive influx of entries in the Social Science category, with 19 innovative projects submitted. Furthermore, notable participation was observed in categories such as Energy and Environmental Science.
Eskom Expo’s Eastern Cape Provincial Coordinator, Fredy Mashate said: “The creative innovation exhibited by our learners is evidence of a secure scientific future – young scientists that are capable of identifying a challenge and applying their minds and following scientific methodologies of research, in coming up with solutions. Seeing each of our top three learners receiving a Rhodes University bursary was heart-warming. It is a step towards attaining the National Development Plan Goal of increasing university science and mathematics entrants to 450,000 by 2030,” he said.
Mashate continued: “I am thrilled to express my heartfelt gratitude to Rhodes University for its exemplary commitment to supporting education and fostering the growth of young scientists. The recent act of awarding bursaries valued at R180,000 to Savanna Renaud from Kingswood College, Rutendo Chakona from Victoria Girls High School, and Alutha Botha from Nombulelo Senior Secondary School at our regional science expo is truly commendable. By recognising and investing in these talented individuals, Rhodes University is not only empowering them, but also contributing to the advancement of scientific research and innovation in our society. This gesture exemplifies the university’s dedication to nurturing young minds and ensuring a brighter future for the scientific community and beyond. Congratulations to the recipients, and thank you, Rhodes University, for making a significant difference in the lives of these budding scientists.”
Other prizes awarded at the event included four exceptional young scientists winning the prestigious Eskom Special Awards. The learners, who received Bluetooth speakers, were:
- Best female: Savanna Renaud, Kingswood College
- Best innovation: Mairi va Schoor, Victoria Girls High School
- Best energy project: Isiphile Ncumisa and Mali Dlabantu, Funda High School
- Best development project: Aluxolo Grimis, Bulelani Senior Secondary School
Conre Henning from Hoërskool P.J. Olivier won the Best Engineering Project award, with a R5,000 voucher from RS South Africa; while Funda High School was awarded a printer sponsored by ABM Office National for entering the most projects under quintile 1-3 schools. Other prizes were sponsored by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), Continental South Africa, and Spur. Furthermore, a total of 18 learners received bronze medals, nine were awarded silver, and six received the highly esteemed gold medals.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, emphasised the need to nurture young scientists through the Eskom Expo. “The event forms a vital part of South Africa’s broader strategy to invest in skills development, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI) at the school level, while providing a platform for talented young scientists to present their innovations and gain exposure to exciting career opportunities in diverse scientific fields. The impressive projects showcased by learners, particularly those from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and girls, highlight a promising future ahead. Congratulations to all the medal winners, and best wishes for even greater accomplishments at the upcoming Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF),” he said.
Advancing learners from the region will have the opportunity to compete against the country’s most exceptional young scientists at the ISF, scheduled for October 2023. This prestigious event offers participants the chance to win prizes, bursaries, scholarships, and various other opportunities. Moreover, learners stand a chance to be selected to present their research and innovations at international science fairs held in the United States of America, Asia, Europe, and across Africa.
For dates and venues of upcoming regional science fairs, click here.