Young EC scientists spark at regional Eskom Expo

By Lulamile Feni

Eastern Cape pupils have proved there is a brighter future for science and engineering in the world, especially their part of it.

FUTURE HOPE: Gold medallists at the recent Mthatha regional Eskom Expo for young Scientists, were, from left, Ongeziwe Vellem ( Attwell Madala High School), Uzma Shaikh (Umtata High School in Mthatha), Lutho Madlulela and Abulele Dlungele (both Holy Cross Education Centre), Sinazo Ntuku (Nyanga High School in Ngcobo) and Kiran Thomas (Umtata High School). With them is Eastern Cape Science Fair coordinator Chris McCurtney

There were incredible designs on display when 250 primary and high pupils showcased their innovations and special projects at an Eskom Expo for Young Scientists recently.

Various towns took part in the Mthatha regional Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair competition held in Mthatha last week.

The fair’s regional director Nomaledi Mbambisa said: “The competition has gone from strength to strength. Each year we are identifying, mentoring and celebrating the talents young South African innovators and problem-solvers have to offer. We all know that this year’s winners will do very well at the International Science Fair and do great things as future scientists.”

Founded in 1998, the expo forms part of 35 regional science expos nationwide which are held annually between July and September.

Gold medallist 16-year-old Kiran Thomas, a Grade 10 pupil from Umtata High, dominated much of the prize-giving ceremony, with his project “The Power of the Graphene Biodegradable Battery”.

“As a green alternative to energy storage, graphene is not only being used for the electrodes of batteries but also as the active material itself. Graphene makes such great battery material that the devices are called supercapacitors. This could end up in the garden compost with plant waste and will not harm the environment,” Kiran explained enthusiastically.

Kiran took home the award for the Mthatha region’s Eskom Expo Best Energy project. He competed alongside 253 pupils from 25 schools.

Another gold medallist who impressed the crowd, was Uzma Shaik, a Grade 11 pupil – again from Umtata High, for her insightful “DNA Database” project.

“This DNA database could help stop the escalation of human trafficking in the country,” said Uzma.

Other gold medallists, were: Ongeziwe Vellem, Grade 11 pupil from Attwell Madala High in Mthatha, Lutho Madlulela and Abulele Dlungele, both Holy Cross Education Centre Grade 12 pupils and Sinazo Ntuku in Grade 12 at Nyanga High in Ngcobo.

Young scientists from rural schools came out tops with their amazing innovations.

Simfumene Tshona, 16, created a system that can monitor and detect electricity theft and illegal connections. The Grade 11 pupil from Nyanga High won the Eskom Expo Best Female Project award.

Simfumene’s project monitors the link between meter boxes and transformers, where many make illegal connections.

Zenande Siphosethu Solontsi and Misokuhle Malawu, Grade 9 pupils from Enduku Primary and Junior Secondary school in Manzana village in Ngcobo, won the Eskom Best Development Project for their “Bridge for All Mankind” which is accessible to disabled people.

Sinawo Siqubengu, a Grade 10 pupil from Umtata High, won a bronze medal and Eskom’s Best Energy Efficiency award for his project “Heat Extender”, which saves electricity and heat energy. He reused simple styrofoam to insulate electric jugs.

Winners will represent their regions at the International Science Fair in Johannesburg from October 3 to 6. — lulamilef@dispatch.co.za.

-Dispatch Live

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