Malnutrition is a global scourge and so it is in South Africa. Early detection of possible malnutrition is an important step in combatting it. An approach to show a possible diagnosis of malnutrition comes from an award-winning research effort by Keerthana Nair from Bryanston High.
The finding that the colour of a fingernail could be an early detector won Keerthana an Eskom award for Best Female Project – one of four such awards in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.
The Eskom Award for Best Innovation Project went to Gabby Nunes from Parktown Girls High who found that the use of dung improved the nutrients of otherwise infertile mining soil. She found this while looking at the way dung can best be used to grow seedlings.
“These projects demonstrate the kind of research approach that the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists endeavours to cultivate amongst school learners,” says Cecil Ramonotsi, CEO of the Eskom Development Foundation. It is part of Eskom’s broader strategy of skills development, investing in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) subjects at school level.
Other Eskom special awards went to:
- Best Development Project: Thabo Simelane from Tshepo Ya Rona Secondary School whose research centred on designing and building a bridge that could move when a river is flooded to enable traffic to still use it.
- Best Energy Project: Takshil Bhaga from Hoërskool Drie Riviere who found that there are more eco-friendly ways of producing energy – through sound energy, using a transducer.
The standard of entries was particularly high this year according to provincial coordinator of the Eskom Expo, Raven Motsewabangwe. The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop school learners from entering excellent research projects for the country’s oldest and most prestigious science fair. A wide range of subjects were covered, from energy to social sciences, with engineering at the top of the list.
There were 142 projects entries that were showcased at the provincial Gauteng Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. The Gauteng awards event is one of nine provincial events leading into the final Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF), which will be held on 8 October. The ISF will include participants from 35 regions in South Africa and some African countries.
Now in its 41st year, the Eskom Expo is endorsed by the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Science and Innovation, the Department of Basic Education and has also received recognition from the Presidency. It sees learners presenting their scientific research work to judges, professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as other interested members from the general community.