South Africa’s top young researchers and innovators will have the opportunity to showcase their scientific brilliance at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists’ premier event – the annual International Science Fair (ISF) – which will be held physically for the first time in two years.
A total of 253 young scientists from 35 regions in South Africa will compete alongside 17 international learners from Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Turkey and Zimbabwe from 7 to 9 December at the Birchwood Hotel’s OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg.
The research conducted by young scientists this year will provide insight into what interests the youth today, what is important to them, and their approach to solving problems. The research areas include issues that affect their daily lives, such as sport; their communities, improving the lives of people; issues that affect their schooling such as improving learning and memory; broader societal issues involving human interactions; and research addressing some of the crises we face nationally and globally.
These 270 bright young minds have earned a spot at the Eskom Expo ISF after beating the competition at a series of regional finals, and they will be poised to showcase their innovative projects to a panel of judges and industry experts in the hope of bagging one of the top prizes.
Several organisations have contributed to this year’s prizes, including Eskom, Siemens, Babcock, the Soil Science Society of South Africa, the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE), the University of Pretoria, Wits University, Rhodes University, the Central University of Technology, and Festo, amongst others. Prizes up for grabs include full-time and partial bursaries, cash prizes, the opportunity to attend the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar during Nobel Week, laptops, tablet computers, work-based exposure during school holidays, along with licenses to use Robot Simulation software and eLearning.
Eskom will be sponsoring 27 full-time bursaries for recipients to study 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.
Nthato Minyuku, Eskom Group Executive: Government and Regulatory Affairs, said: “Eskom sees the benefit of developing a passion for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) among South Africa’s youth. We recognise the desperate need for these scarce skills, and that the Eskom Expo offers a unique opportunity to address some of our country’s most pressing needs by nurturing and growing talent. With the Eskom bursaries that are up for grabs at this year’s ISF, we are actively investing in the youth to address challenges in the future.”
Eskom Development Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sumaya Nassiep, said: “As the funder of Eskom Expo, we are excited to see the return of a physical ISF this year, following the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic during the last two years. The Foundation is proud to promote the participation of rural and township schools, along with young women scientists, which aligns with our strategy of developing previously disadvantaged learners. Our long-term growth plan remains to cultivate a pipeline of scientists, technicians, and engineers that will contribute to the sustainability of the organisation and our country.”
This year’s ISF won’t be all work and no play for the budding young scientists, as the senior ISF participants will be treated to a unique guided tour of the Eskom Research, Testing, and Development (RT&D) site – a business area of the Sustainability Division at Eskom in Johannesburg – where about 400 of South Africa’s finest innovators, scientists, environmentalists, engineers and researchers, all gather under one roof. The learners will learn more about the Motswedi Water Research Facility, the Photo-voltaic Plant, the Battery Energy Storage Test facility, the James Watts Metering Laboratory, the Swan Edison Illumination Laboratory, and the Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory, amongst other fascinating laboratories.
The junior ISF learners will be treated to a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the Joburg Zoo, which takes guests to areas that are normally closed to the general public. Learners will learn about animal care, behaviour and conservation from the tour guides, and get to learn about endangered species, adaptation, and general information on zoo animals.
The road to this year’s ISF began with a series of workshops in each of the nine provinces; followed by research and innovation camps; then district expos (where learners received valuable input from a team of experts to improve their research); which were followed by the regional expos.
This year, Eskom Expo had a phenomenal increase in the number of projects by individuals and groups – growing from 1 329 in 2021 to 4 432 in 2022. A total of 3 465 girls and 2 146 boys took part in the regional expos.
Members of the public are invited to attend the ISF and see first-hand the impressive projects that these young scientists have developed. The exhibition hall is open to the public on Thursday, 8 December from 08:30 – 11:00 at the Birchwood Hotel’s OR Tambo Conference Centre.