16 October 2014
Seesaws that pump water; lighting a city using solar power; improving crickets’ protein content to make food bars; these mind-blowing ideas were all conceived by young South African scientists and presented at the annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists where “students have a chance to show others their projects about their own scientific investigations’.
The expo was held from 8 to 10 October in Gauteng’s Boksburg. Endorsed by the Department of Public Enterprises, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Science and Technology, the Young Scientists Expo invites some 17 700 pupils from across the country to compete for a ticket to the International Science Fair. The competition is stiff, with just the top 822 selected to represent their regions at national level.
According to Parthy Chetty, the expo’s executive director, “South Africa wants to establish itself as a hub of science research and excellence. In order to do that South Africa needs to be producing outstanding scientists, researchers and technicians and attract top talent from around the world. By hosting young scientists from Africa we are exposing them to the exciting world of science in South Africa and we are starting to make that vision a reality.”
The expo aims to support and showcase female scientists and young scientists from across the continent; this year it attracted 477 female participants, versus 345 male participants, with entrants coming from Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana. The students discussed their work with judges, teachers and students from other schools, expanding their horizons through broadening their science knowledge and growing peer networks.
Naledi Pandor, minister for the department of science and technology, was at the event. She told the pupils to not limit their ambitions, but to “dream as widely as you can. There are immense challenges that confront South Africa but you can be part of resolving those challenges.’
Eskom Chairman Zola Tsotsi presented the awards at the expo with Pandor; he said: “At Eskom we value the important role of education, as part of the solution we have invested in training and education to drive growth. Our country relies on innovation to break the shackles of poverty and to create wealth and the learners here today have the power to create a better life for the poor.”
Eskom is South Africa’s electricity utility.