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Eskom SA Young Scientists Expo goes international!

The learners from Dlangezwa High School in KwaZulu-Natal, were the overall winners of the annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists in South Africa, held last week at Birchwood Hotel, Benoni.

As overall winners, they win a trip to an international science fair related to their project and field of interest.

The grade 11 pair came up with a load shedding meter that regulates the supply of electricity in a household when the national power grid is under pressure.

When the electricity supply is under pressure, the control unit (which is housed at Eskom power stations) sends a signal to the meter box to switch off everything using over 100 watts of electricity in the house. The user will then have to unplug everything consuming large amounts of electricity and their lights will go back on.

Says Snenhlanhla: “We wanted to invent something that would not only help us but also the country because as you know we are facing a huge crisis with our electricity supply. We believe this project will help us learners, our community and Eskom to put an end to power cuts,” whose name loosely translated means (we’ve got luck).

Now in its 32nd year running, this exciting and mind-blowing project has now included participants from states such as Lesotho, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Mexico and owing to its success rate, it could feature more countries.

The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists inspires and ignites learners to discover their passion to explore -not only the world and how it works- but it also means that you can explore your true potential as a young scientist. The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists drives this theme.

Following grueling 28 regional finals across the country, almost 556 projects were exhibited by grade 11 learners at the finals. It is South Africa’s biggest science fair for school students and attracts entrants from rural, peri-urban and urban school across the country with over 468 schools having participated this year.

Eskom CEO Brian Dames says: “For me the Eskom Expo is really about celebrating what’s good in South Africa and it gave me great satisfaction to see these young learners with such energy and enthusiasm.

It gives me great hope about the future of our country.”

Sanctioned by the National Department of Science and Technology, the project sees learners from 28 regions across the country discussing their work with professional scientists, judges, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as other interested community members.

Not only do learners increase their awareness of the wonders of science, the Eskom Expo also hopes to broaden their knowledge and scientific horizons.

Minister of Science and Technology Derek Hanekom says: “The Eskom Expo is the premium exhibition of creative minds at work at a school level. There is an abundance of talent amongst young learners in this country, far greater than I ever imagined and the Eskom Expo gives me vision and hope for our country.”

Other Eskom Special Awards included the best development project, best energy project, best energy efficiency project, best female project, and best rural high and primary school projects, which saw 69 gold, 156 silver and 202 bronze medals awarded. Winners all receive a laptop.

Nxumalo and Sibiya also won the Eskom Best Development Project Award and their school will receive a mobile science kit valued at R34 000.

Here are all the winners:

The Eskom Best Energy Efficiency Project Award: Matthew Keevy and Sonke Mkhabela from Pretoria Boys High School. The grade 11 learners designed a programme to save the electricity consumed by streetlights and lights on highways using light and movement sensors. The team calculates that these sensors could cut energy usage by 42%;

The Eskom Best Energy Project Award: Tave Verhoef from Howick High School in KwaZulu-Natal for her project entitled “Maglev Train”. She looked at how Maglev trains work using the principle of magnetic polarity.

Eskom Best Female Project Award: Iselle van den Heever, grade 7 learner from Fichardtpark Primary School in Bloemfontein. Her project looked at the how planets orbit the sun.

Selected prize winners, will also walk away with bursaries from some of the country’s top universities as well as receiving laptops, cash prizes and books.

“We want to take our project further by presenting our idea and the results of our findings to the City Council and prove that grade 11s can make a difference in our country. If I win, it will prove that I am capable of becoming an engineer”, says the energetic Sonke.

This Science fair not only exposes learners to the exciting world of science, it also opens their eyes to the many career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI), says Professor Ian Jandrell, Eskom Expo Vice Chairman Board of Directors.

For more information on next year’s applications forward email to:priscilla@exposcience.co.za.

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