Two South African girl learners shone at the recent global event organised by the Hong Kong international science fair. The occasion is an ideal opportunity for young people from across the world to compete by presenting their cutting-edge and impactful inventions.
The two supremely talented learners are Kavya Kaushik, 17, Grade 11 at Bryanston High School in Johannesburg and Catherine Kies, a Grade 10 learner at Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch. Last year they won silver medals in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists competition.
Called 2021 Virtual Global Youth Science Technology Bowl (GYSTB) Science Fair, the event is highly competitive forum where young school scientists participate in high-tech research projects in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. The fair aims to provide a platform for global youth to develop their creativity and scientific mind-sets, and facilitate the exchange of scientific ideas, interests and abilities among young scientists all over the world.
According to Eskom general manager of risk and sustainability, Andrew Etzinger, Kaushik (17) developed a machine learning model that accurately detects and classifies cardiac arrhythmia beats. This is a critical field of research in artificial intelligence that will assist healthcare workers with making quick and accurate diagnosis of the type of cardiac arrhythmia, said Etzinger. “Further development of this model has the potential to completely automate the task of diagnosis of this disease, and make it highly beneficial to the health care industry,” said Kaushi
Her counterpart, Catherine Kies, who is a Grade 10 learner at Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch, has invented a hand prosthesis that is operated via the myoelectric impulses from a person’s arm. This entails moving one’s arm, and the exact movement is replicated by a mechanical claw. Kies used various methods and materials to develop the hand prosthesis with remarkable accuracy. The 15-year-old has contributed to a growing body of research on prosthesis control using muscle impulses.
“The claw is extremely simple and has only two positions – open and closed. If the system were to be used as a practical prosthesis, an advanced multi-finger hand would have to be designed. The software will need to be upgraded to allow for more controlled and proportional movements,” said ecstatic Kies
Competing against the best
Etzinger said the participation of young people in these global events “highlights the international standard of our local projects” as they compete against top young scientists from coming from 26 different countries. He said this shows that “our investment in Eskom Expo’s development of young scientists and engineers remains unwavering”.
Following their passion
Parthy Chetty, Eskom Expo executive director, hailed the achievements of the teen girls. “Even during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, passionate young scientists like Kavya and Catherine continue to follow their passion for the sciences and extend their classroom knowledge well beyond its borders, even as far as Hong Kong. As we celebrate youth month, we need to congratulate these young scientists for representing South Africa on the international stage,” Chetty.