South African young scientists win big at prominent Turkey Science Fair

 

Three South African young scientists have returned home with outstanding prizes after competing at the Oğuzhan Özkaya Education-Karademir Science Energy Engineering Fair (OKSE2F) in Izmir, Turkey.

Projects by Joshua Sylvain de Miranda, grade 10 at Tyger Valley College and Este-Lize Graham grade 10 at Hoërskool Menlopark, both in Pretoria, were selected to exhibit at the OKSE2F while competing against 600 other participants at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) in October 2017. Joshua won first prize/gold medal in the chemistry category while Este-Lize won second prize/ silver medal in the biology category.

Waheed Amanjee, a grade 11 learner from Creston College in Port Shepstone won second prize/ silver medal in the engineering- energy category at the science fair. He was selected for his impressive research entitled: FootBit: Step into the Future. His project is inspired by the need for efficient renewable energy sources worldwide. There is a dire need for innovative and efficient renewable energy sources so more people can have access to electricity. The problem is that most present forms of renewable energy are reliant on sources that humans are not in control of and are usually very expensive.

The device that Waheed came up with is simple, effective and economical. The range of energy harvested on the shoe sole, is able to power a 50V LED light, Arduino and charge a battery. “This invention will assist in reducing the human species’ carbon footprint and place Africa on the forefront of innovation in renewable energy.” says Waheed.

In March this year, Waheed was selected to represent Africa at OKSE2F after taking first place in the Innovation Category at the Buskers Festival in Zambia.

For his project titled, “Fire Redundancy Effect of Non-toxic Chemicals”, Joshua aimed to develop a flame retardant that would delay the spread of fires in informal settlements. “The research involved investigating the variables that affect the behaviour of fire, the dangers and obstacles that fire departments face when responding to fires in informal settlements and going into informal settlements to investigate building materials used and how flame retardants could delay the spread of fires,” says Joshua. Joshua determined that using a solution of Borax and Boracic Powder as a flame retardant on building materials would delay the spread of fires.

The project Este-Lize exhibited at  OKSE2F is entitled “Can laser light enhance cell division?”, and seeks to explore the effects of using a continuous wave laser to irradiate TZM-bi cells at a fluency or power density of 5J/cm2. “The irradiated cells were compared to the non-irradiated cells of the control group to determine if laser interaction with cells can enhance or inhibit cell division. The outcome of this project will provide a clearer understanding of the effects that lasers have on cellular processes taking place within cells at in-vitro level,” says Este-Lize.

OKSE2F aims to bring together high school students from all around the world to present their scientific and technological researches and to make them share their culture. To this end, young people are invited to exhibit their research projects in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, energy, mathematics-computer and robotics.

“Every year we are impressed by the ingenuity shown by the participants at Eskom Expo. Their commitment to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems such as sustainability is admirable. Eskom Expo recognises and rewards their contribution to the global knowledge base,” says Executive Director of the Eskom Expo, Parthy Chetty.

OKSE2F and the Eskom Expo are both organisations that invite young people to present their projects on their platforms and to make social and cultural exchanges with their peers from all over the world. The science fair took place from 4 – 10 June.

“At Eskom we have a huge need for talented scientists and engineers and by supporting the Eskom Expo we are able to invest in developing a pipeline of talented technical specialists. The Eskom Expo isn’t just about cultivating an interest in the sciences but through strategic support we encourage young scientists to pursue their interest at a tertiary level. This long-term vision means that in a few years’ time these scientists will begin to serve South Africa in areas beset by a scarcity of skills,” says Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission and Acting Group Executive Sustainability & Risk

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