Young scientists are displaying their keen interest in their surroundings by coming up with solutions for today’s problems at this year’s Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF).
In response to some of the challenges faced by their local communities, these youngsters will be showing off their science research projects at the three-day event at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg until tomorrow (6 October).
The Eskom Expo ISF, which is South Africa’s biggest school-level science fair, is an ideal platform for the 611 finalists to show off their science projects across 24 different categories including energy efficiency, innovation and technology, physics, astronomy and space science as well as social and psychological sciences. Now in its 37th year, the prestigious science fair has attracted participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Brazil.
ISF is a culmination of a series of exciting and competitive regional science expos held countrywide. The young scientists competing at ISF were selected amongst the thousands of participants who attended the regional expos. At the ISF the learners not only display their talents and passion for the world of science, but also get a chance to increase their knowledge and broaden their scientific horizons. They will be vying for medals as well as special awards and prizes including bursaries, cash rewards, scientific equipment and visits to other international science fairs.
In attendance and to officially open this year’s Eskom Expo ISF were the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission / Acting Group Executive: Risk and Sustainability, Mr Thava Govender as well as the Chairman of the Eskom Expo Board of Directors, Mr Pieter Pretorius.
Deputy Minister Surty notes the significance of this year’s fair as it coincides with the celebration of the life of the late struggle stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, who was an avid scholar and teacher of mathematics and science at one point in his life. “Had he been here today, OR would’ve been proud of all of you for taking an interest in these subjects. The world is changing at a rapid pace due to technology and because of the fields you have decided to pursue, the destiny of this country lies squarely in your hands. We need you to develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills so that you can help our country to prosper.”
The Eskom Expo ISF is supported by the national Departments of Public Enterprises, Science and Technology and Basic Education. The finalists present their work to judges, professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as members of the public.
Govender says Eskom’s involvement in the Expo is largely driven by the need to develop engineers in the country. “For years now, the grave shortage of engineers, not just locally but around the globe, has been a major threat to meaningful advancement, particularly within the context of contributing to sustainable human, social and economic development. The competition is Eskom’s way of addressing the mismatch between supply and demand in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI).”
Over and above the medals and other special prizes, the learners will also be competing for the coveted Eskom special awards that are given to learners who show outstanding ability. These include the best energy project, best energy efficiency project, best female and best development project.