Aspiring researchers had an opportunity to showcase their science and innovation projects at the Southern KwaZulu-Natal regional finals of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists – first physical science fair in the region since 2019.
A total of 207 learners from the region gathered at Little Flower Combined School in Harry Gwala District and Creston College in Ugu District to showcase their innovative science, engineering and social investigations, while 68 judges who are educators, specialists and scholars in the various competition categories and Eskom Expo enthusiasts evaluated and gave scores to the 187 projects that were on exhibition.
This year, the most number of entries were seen in the Engineering category with 50 entries. There were also a significant number of entries in the Social Science and Energy categories.
Eskom Expo’s KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Coordinator, Nalini Dookie said: “Learners, teachers and other mentors were quite motivated this year to participate, as the face to face training workshops and science camps assisted in developing these young scientists with research and science communication skills. When Science and Tech enthusiasts, from as young as grade 4, get excited, not only about talking science (STEMI) but actively doing it, is reason enough for other stakeholders to also get involved and support these young boffins to achieve their project goals.”
A total of 53 learners received bronze medals, while 19 received silver and nine received gold. Learners from Olwandle High received the most number of medals also winning a special prize for having the most number of entries in the high school category whilst Shonkweni Primary secured the prize for the most number of entries in the primary school category.
The Eskom Special Award winners were Andile Khuzwayo from Kwafica High School who won the Best Development prize; Best Innovation prize was awarded to Mandy Nyawose from Kwa Hluzinqondo High School; Best Energy Project went to Awonke Banayi from Olwandle High School; while Zeba Dawood from St Francis Primary School scooped the Best Female award. 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 Southern KZN region, contact: 084 616 3273