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From revolutionary solar systems, innovative ways of saving water to ground-breaking methods of being energy efficient, the second day of Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) was abuzz with the great ideas presented by young scientists. The day was concluded with a special awards ceremony to recognise some of the exceptional projects on display at ISF, being held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.

Eskom dedicated the start of the second day to acknowledging their partners and ISF sponsors through an exclusive breakfast. Chairman of the Eskom Expo Board of Directors, Mr Pieter Pretorius, said, “For several years the Eskom Expo has hosted learners from several other African countries and this year we have learners from seven other countries participating. None of this would be possible without our sponsors, whose support enables us to run the competition and offer prizes to the value of R4 million, which are a powerful motivator to our participants.”

The special awards ceremony was hosted by popular MC and recording artist, Proverb, and in attendance was the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Dikobe Martins, who said, “The projects I saw today were erudite and mind-blowing. The quality of the work by the young learners reminded me of my school days when such work was done only at tertiary level but nowadays it’s at school level. It’s a great sign of the times and the level of development we are having. These youngsters are not only concerned about their own interests but also the future of their country.”

Eskom Group Executive: Transmission / Acting Group Executive: Risk and Sustainability, Mr Thava Govender, said, “Eskom is proud to be part of the International Science Fair, which is a great platform for future scientists and engineers to establish a base for their future careers. It is an ideal catalyst for unearthing the country’s brightest young minds and also opens their eyes to the various options and many exciting career opportunities available in the extensive scientific world.”

Over and above the numerous sponsor awards given out, four special awards, sponsored by Eskom, were awarded to some of the most outstanding participants in South Africa’s largest school-level science fair. The winners were presented with cash prizes, tablet and laptop computers amongst others.

The Eskom Expo, which is endorsed by the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Basic Education and the Department of Science and Technology, has seen learners from various regions across the country competing for a spot at the prestigious ISF, which is a culmination of all the regional competitions.

At the ISF the learners present their science experiments and projects to a panel of judges that includes professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists and educators in a bid to take home a medal, a special prize or a ticket to an International Science Fair. Apart from South Africa, participants at this year’s ISF also came from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Brazil.

This ISF not only exposes learners to the exciting fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI), but learners also get a chance to gain some important life skills including critical thinking, problem-solving as well as discipline, presentation skills, the importance of team work as well as learning to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds. 

The four Eskom Special Award winners were:

  • Best Energy Project – Waheed Amanjee – Grade 10 - Creston College (KZN)
  • Best Energy Efficiency Project – Daniel Holmes – Grade 7 - Grey Boys Junior School (EC)
  • Best Female Project – Khilona Piyarlall - Grade 9 - Scottburgh High School (KZN)
  • Best Development Project – Kamogelo Rakgetse – Grade 11- Abraham Serote Secondary (LIM)

Best Energy Project – Waheed Amanjee – Grade 10 - Creston College (KZN)

Best Energy Efficiency Project – Daniel Holmes – Grade 7 - Grey Boys Junior School (EC)

Best Female Project – Khilona Piyarlall - Grade 9 - Scottburgh High School (KZN)

Best Development Project – Kamogelo Rakgetse – Grade 11- Abraham Serote Secondary (LIM)

Young scientists from around the continent and other parts of the world will be displaying their keen interest in their surroundings by coming up with solutions for today’s problems. In response to some of the challenges faced by their local communities, these youngsters will be showing off their science research projects at the three-day Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF), at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg until Friday, October 6.

The Eskom Expo ISF, which is South Africa’s biggest school-level science fair, is an ideal platform for the 611 finalists to show off their science projects across 24 different categories including energy efficiency, innovation and technology, physics, astronomy and space science as well as social and psychological sciences. Now in its 37th year, the prestigious science fair has attracted participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Brazil.

ISF is a culmination of a series of exciting and competitive regional science expos held countrywide. The young scientists competing at ISF were selected amongst the thousands of participants who attended the regional expos. At the ISF the learners not only display their talents and passion for the world of science, but also get a chance to increase their knowledge and broaden their scientific horizons. They will be vying for medals as well as special awards and prizes including bursaries, cash rewards, scientific equipment and visits to other international science fairs.

In attendance and to officially open this year’s Eskom Expo ISF were the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission / Acting Group Executive: Risk and Sustainability, Mr Thava Govender as well as the Chairman of the Eskom Expo Board of Directors, Mr Pieter Pretorius.

Deputy Minister Surty noted the significance of this year’s fair as it coincides with the celebration of the life of the late struggle stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, who was an avid scholar and teacher of mathematics and science at one point in his life. “Had he been here today, OR would’ve been proud of all of you for taking an interest in these subjects. The world is changing at a rapid pace due to technology and because of the fields you have decided to pursue, the destiny of this country lies squarely in your hands. We need you to develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that you can help our country to prosper.”

The Eskom Expo ISF is supported by the national Departments of Public Enterprises, Science and Technology and Basic Education. The finalists present their work to judges, professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as members of the public.

Mr Govender says Eskom’s involvement in the Expo is largely driven by the need to develop engineers in the country. “For years now, the grave shortage of engineers, not just locally but around the globe, has been a major threat to meaningful advancement, particularly within the context of contributing to sustainable human, social and economic development. The competition is Eskom’s way of addressing the mismatch between supply and demand in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI).”

Over and above the medals and other special prizes, the learners will also be competing for the coveted Eskom special awards that are given to learners who show outstanding ability. These include the best energy project, best energy efficiency project, best female and best development project.

Eskom Expo International Science Fair is open to the public on Thursday, 5 October from 13h30 to 17h00. Entrance is free and the public is encouraged to attend and get exposed to some of the most inspiring and well-researched ideas that South Africa’s young scientists have come up with. 

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty and Executive Director of Eskom Expo, Parthy Chetty chat to a learner Eskom Expo ISF
Eskoms Thava Govender
Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty
Grade 10 learner Anele Ngema from Durban Girls Secondary School at Eskom Expo ISF

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