The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists presents a platform for youngsters to show off their talents and encourages them to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (Stemi) fields. It’s the largest science fair in the country and teaches learners internationally benchmarked scientific methods, their importance and the application thereof required at university level. By actively encouraging young people to pursue Stemi careers, Eskom aims to address the country’s shortage of skills in the fields of science and engineering.
The competition, founded in 1980 by Professor Derek Grey, sees learners from 35 regions across the country competing for a place in the prestigious International Science Fair (ISF) held in Boksburg, Johannesburg. From the 8 972 learners who participated at a regional level in 2016, only the top 580 were selected to represent their regions at the ISF.
At the ISF the learners present their projects to a panel of judges that includes professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists and educators in a bid to take home a medal, a special award or a prized ticket to an overseas ISF.
2016 was another momentous one for the Eskom Expo with 5 393 female participants versus 3 564 male participants, with learners from Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe taking part for the fifth year in a row. Notably, 2016 saw phenomenal growth — 43% of schools in South Africa participated.
The expo is endorsed by the departments of public enterprises, basic education and science and technology. It has also received recognition from the presidency.
Some of the top performing learners of 2016
Dlamini’s energy saver device, which is connected to a distribution box, helps reduce home energy usage. It monitors home appliances such as stoves, geysers, heaters and even television sets, using motion sensors and smoke detectors to ensure appliances are switched off when the owner leaves the home. The sensors detect whether there is someone in the house and switches on the relevant appliances when a person enters the home again.
His project was in the Physics, Astronomy and Space Science category. The young scientist won the best aerospace project and colours of creation awards, best PDI project and best project in the category, a gold medal, a Siemens award and a scholarship to study at Stellenbosch University. He also represented South Africa at the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environment Project in May this year with his project.
Made from recycled two-litre bottles, Johann installed his shack cooler in the window in the room with the most air flow. The measured the size of the room and and the window chosen. He installed a sturdy polystyrene board cut to the size of the window and drilled holes to the rim size of the bottles, spacing them according to the size of the bottles. He then cut the bottles in half: the bottle necks were slid through the holes with the necks open to the inside of the room and the half bodies to the outside. The then placed a thermometer in the room and measured the temperature at different intervals, conducting the same procedure in another room to compare results. His results showed that the room temperature decreased over time inside the room where the Powerless Shack Cooler was installed, while the control room basically maintained its initial temperature.