South Africa’s finest young scientists to compete in world’s largest international pre-college science competition

Following successful presentations at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair, nine of South Africa’s finest fledgling researchers will compete in world’s largest international pre-college science competition: the Intel International Science Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States in May 2018.

Projects by learners selected to attend the competition range from research into the causes of faecal and E.coli coliform in borehole water to solutions to pain suffered due to amputated limbs.

Rahil Ishan Samlal (Grade 11 last year) at St Dominic’s Academy Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal was the winner of the prestigious University of Pretoria (UP) Derek Gray Award at last year’s Eskom Expo, which includes a full bursary to study science at UP and a fully paid trip to Sweden to represent Africa at the International Youth Science Seminar to be held there in December.

Rahil will also exhibit his project, “Alternative method to cure bacterial infections” at Intel in May. “The purpose of this project was to find an alternative method to cure bacterial infections using a substance which was both cost-effective to produce as well as work as effectively to kill the pathogenic bacteria which present themselves in mainly the gut and colon,” says Rahil.

“The conclusion of the investigation was that the compound 3, 15- Dihydroxy-2-octadecene has powerful antimicrobial effects and may be used in future research when creating new antibiotics as well as other types of medications. It is easily obtainable and cost-effective,” adds Rahil.

Rahil will be joined in the US by Cape Town learner Smuts Frank (Grade 11 last year) who will be exhibiting his project, “Schlieren Photography – The density of the flame”, which tracks the development of a Background-Oriented Schlieren (BOS) design to measure the density of a candle flame and other axisymmetric Schlieren bodies, using a smartphone camera, a desktop computer and a printed sheet of paper.

Frank won a gold medal at Eskom Expo for his project, was awarded the Meiring Naude Award for the most inspiring project, and won the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) prestigious project award.

Pieter Pretorius, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Eskom Expo or Young Scientists, says: “Eskom is always looking for ways to support government’s focus on skills development, training and education. What better way to do that than by offering these talented young scientists the chance to travel to one of the most prestigious science fair in the world. There they will gain invaluable exposure that they can use as a stepping stone towards a career in the sciences. We wish them the best of luck and hope that they represent the country well.”

“The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is not only a platform that helps us to unearth the country’s brightest young scientific minds but it also gives these youngsters the opportunity to attend prestigious international science fairs. Here they engage with other leaders in their fields, helping to broaden their horizons and showcase the exciting career options available in the sciences,” says Parthy Chetty: Executive Director for Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.

Other learners heading to Intel include:

  • Steven Sacht-Luwes (Grade 11 last year) at Bethlehem Voortrekker High School in the Free State, whose project, “Astronaut Protection from UV Light”, aimed to verify that vinyl fabric proved most suitable for UV protection. Steven tested two chemical suspensions comparing which had better UV protection on a plastic lens representing the visor of astronauts’ helmets.
  • Kau Mohlamonyane (Grade 11 last year) from Nkangala aimed to find a solution to reduce water wastage by human activity in the form of a smart pipe – which is capable of sensing turbidity and detecting impurities in water. “Most of the engineering goals were met. The project has proven to be a viable solution to a lot of water problems experienced in the world,” says Kau.
  • Alecia Brits (Grade 11 last year) at Diamantveld High School in Kimberley’s project, “Biochemical frontline infection detection” aims to identify and determine the susceptibility of micro-organisms that cause skin infections without the need for laboratory infrastructure or equipment.
  • Pinelands High School learner, Chase Newel (Grade 11 last year’s) project, “The Design and Testing of an Ankle Induction Coil Cellphone Charger”, attempts to charge mobile phone batteries using a special coil in an ankle pocket during movements.
  • Gabriele Gess (Grade 11 last year) from Cape Town’s project investigates the availability and sources of pollen collected by honeybees on a fruit farm in the Piket Bo-berg area in the Western Cape Province during the summer months (December to March) when there is little or no rainfall.
  • Martha Djan (Grade 11 last year) at Potchefstroom High School for Girls ion the North West’s project, “Phytoremediation: The Future of mine Dumps” explores the potential use of D.sinuata for phytomining (a process where plants are used to extract and recover metals of economic value, such as gold, from shallow surface ore-bodies and contaminated areas, in which the conventional method of secondary mining is not feasible), whilst simultaneously remediating land contaminated by gold mining processes.
  • Shreyah Ramluckan (Grade 7 last year) at Woodview Primary in KwaZulu-Natal’ project, “Improving ESD in schools using citizen science tools”, aims to test the effectiveness of using citizen science to improve ESD at school.

About Intel ISEF:

About 1 800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research at Intel and compete for on average US $4 million in prizes. Only the best young scientific minds are invited to compete and the winners can win prizes of up to R900 000.

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