In just two months time, Intel will send four students who won gold medals at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, to the 2009 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the US.
The 2009 ISEF will bring 1 600 exceptional high-school science students from more than 50 countries to Reno to compete for $4-million in prize money in the world's largest science, maths and engineering competition.
Parthy Chetty, director of corporate affairs at Intel, says that the Intel ISEF is an investment in the next generation of scientists.
"Over the past decade, Intel's investment in this world class programmw has helped to increase the number of participants by more than 36% and the type of scientific projects students are tackling have grown increasingly sophisticated."
Christopher Wilken, a 17-year-old who hails from the Eastern Cape, is one of the participants who will be representing South Africa at the ISEF.
"At the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, my project determined whether the Vitamin C level in oranges can increase or decrease once it has been picked," says Wilken. "I stored oranges from different trees at different temperatures and carried out tests and experiments. The conclusion was that the colder the temperature, the higher the Vitamin C levels in oranges."
Wilken says that farmers can benefit from his project as it will enable them to pick oranges at the right time and ensure better crops. During his research, he learnt that science has no boundaries and that the field is wide open for new discoveries.
"The real challenge was to support my findings through further intensive research," adds Wilken.
Jason Dixon and Arno de Beer who are both 17 and in grade 11, worked together on the project of treatment and control of ticks and other parasites found mainly on wild game animals for the Eskom Expo and will showcase the same project at the ISEF.
"The traditional method of treating wild game is costly and in many cases the animals have to be captured or tranquilised to administer the necessary treatment," says Dixon.
"Our method of treatment is cost-effective," he adds. "We encapsulated chemicals that are normally used for the treatment of ticks and parasite into softgel paintballs. We then shot these softgel capsules on to the animals and when the animals were hit, the softgels burst resulting in the chemicals being spread effectively across the targeted areas," he explains.
De Beer says their project took a lot of innovative thinking and hard work, together with many experiments and thorough research to formulate.
"One of the biggest challenges we faced in our research was that we had to ensure that we complied with the necessary safety, health and environmental standards, "he says. "During the process, people tried to convince us that the project was doomed for failure due to its nature and that we would be harming the animals more than helping them, but we overcame all obstacles and believe that we have made a difference," he adds.
The 2009 Intel ISEF will unite the most talented young researchers from the around the globe.
"I am confident that these scientists will continue to apply their talents to tackling the greatest challenges to our planet and our society," says Chetty.