Innovation shines at Eskom young scientists’ expo

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bursaries, laptops and cash prizes were part of the bounty taken home by some of the continent’s budding scientists at an event held recently in Boksburg.

The scientists took home prizes worth R10 million following their participation in the annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF), which concluded on 5 October in Boksburg.

“Top performing scholars were awarded prizes in the form of bursaries from Eskom, Siemens, the University of Pretoria and University of the Witwatersrand to study degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” said Eskom on Sunday.

The top senior Eskom Expo ISF 2018 scientist award went to Klerksdorp matric learner, Aqil Variava, who was bestowed the prestigious Professor Derek Gray Memorial Award for his project, the Pollution Index.

The project is an environmental management software set to tackle pollution through providing an in-depth analysis of freshwater bodies by postulating both the potential cause and appropriate corrective measures.

“This award is a full bursary in the Faculty of Science from the University of Pretoria. Part of his prize is also attending the Youth Science Forum in Stockholm, Sweden, in December 2019, where he will attend a Nobel Awards Ceremony and get to meet several Nobel laureates. Aqil also received a whopping R75 000 cash prize for his outstanding project.”

Variava and others were awarded their prizes, which included laptops and cash, at an ISF Special Awards and Grand Awards ceremony on Thursday and Friday respectively.

The top junior Eskom Expo ISF 2018 scientist honour was awarded to Damian van der Merwe, a Grade 7 learner from Crawford Lonehill Preparatory. Van der Merwe took home R50 000 in cash and his project tested the possibility of being able to assist students to use a new method of learning called Educational Gamification.

Port Elizabeth learner Brad Ettiene Spies from D.F. Malherbe High School took home a full scholarship for his creation of the “Spin-tacular” – a wind turbine device that is able to produce more than enough electrical energy to power/charge mobile devices and lights.

Spies was awarded the Siemens grand prize, which is a full scholarship to study in Berlin, Germany, for three-and-a-half years in a high level apprenticeship program.

Upon his return to South Africa, he will be given an opportunity to join the Siemens workforce.

“Eskom’s long-term growth plan is also developing a pipeline of scientists, technicians and engineers to employ internally and contribute to the sustainability of the organisation. These are some of the reasons the Eskom Expo is a flagship event for us and important sustainability driver for the organisation,” said Eskom Expo Board of Directors chairman, Pieter Pretorius.

This year, Eskom offered 14 bursaries to deserving Grade 12 finalists to study electrical engineering at a South African university of their choice. These bursaries will be awarded to the learners, provided they meet the required criteria when they receive their matric results at the end of the year.

A total of 512 finalists from 35 regions across South Africa and other countries such as Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania competed at the expo, which got underway on 2 October.

The expo, which is in its 38th year, is endorsed by the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Basic Education and has also received recognition from the Presidency.

The expo sees learners presenting their scientific research work to judges, professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists, educators, parents as well as other interested members of the community. -