Kiyara Swartbooi, a young innovator from Port Rex Technical High School is set to represent SA at both the Eskom Expo International Science Fair and the prestigious 43rd Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition this year.
Kiyara earned this opportunity after winning a silver medal, along with a laptop, at the national Eskom Expo For Young Scientists in October last year for her groundbreaking invention for visually and hearing impaired people.
Her project, a Thermal Faucet: A Smart Water Management System, helps users conserve water by letting them know when their bathtubs have filled up to a preset temperature.
The system makes use of a temperature controller to regulate the water’s temperature and sends a signal to the user once the maximum temperature has been reached.
It also integrates a flowmeter, a smart faucet, a temperature sensor, and an app interface for voice-controlled operation, making it more user-friendly.
Her invention earned her special recognition because of its potential to make an impact on the environment and in the lives of users.
In preparation for the two science fairs, Swartbooi will be making a few upgrades to her project to integrate more digital aspects to it.
The Eskom science fair selects pupils from 35 regions in SA to compete against the best young scientists from around the country and the world.
The week-long Beijing competition in China sees participants compete in four sections: medical and health sciences, zoology, mathematics, computer sciences.
Of the more than 40 projects submitted, only 13 are awarded gold medals.
Kiyara said she hoped to inspire other pupils to participate in science expos.
She also aspires to write a book about her Eskom science expo journey.
She said her involvement reinforced her understanding that science constantly evolves, presenting opportunities for innovation and improvement.
“I learnt so much from my journey with the Eskom Science Expo. There were times I felt overwhelmed because it was loads of work and there were so many talented young, brilliant minds around me. But I stayed focused and did my utmost best,” she said.
“I got to meet people from all over the world too and to hear all their stories.
“One girl told me that most of the schools in her community are struggling financially and her project aims to fix that.
“Not only meeting the participants but the mentors as well. They were great and treated us like their own kids.
“I’m most grateful for everyone who supported me through this. Without them, I don’t think I could have made it this far.
“When I was selected for the [two science fairs], I knew it could only have been God. I can’t even begin to describe it.”
Swartbooi’s mother, Christel Fray, said the family was excited for Kiyara as competing internationally had been her dream.
“We are extremely proud of her. Even though she was faced with so many challenges from the start, she has once again proven to herself that with determination and perseverance anything is possible,” Fray said.
Port Rex principal Ettiene Theron said: “We consider ourselves as a ‘school of engineers’ and Kiyara’s achievement is exactly the kind of news we wish to inspire other learners to strive for.
He said there was a huge demand for people with technical skills in SA.