The 43rd Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) kicked off this week with an electric start as young scientists from around the world were treated to robotics and coding activities, along with science shows as they prepared to showcase their own scientific brilliance.

Sci-Enza, from the University of Pretoria, entertained aspiring young scientists with their captivating science shows while STEMulator, in collaboration with the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF), showcased the STEMulator – a revolutionary tool designed to inspire children of all ages to explore the realms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. In addition, career-guidance talks were offered to provide invaluable insights into the exciting world of STEM.

The opening of the ISF saw 330 local young scientists stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 20 international peers representing Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Turkey to compete in the competition taking place this week at the Birchwood Hotel’s OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg.

The research to be showcased at this year’s ISF offers a compelling glimpse into the interests, concerns, and problem-solving prowess of today’s youth. From exploring ways to enhance personal academic performance and endurance to improving the lives of beloved pets, these young scientists will delve into topics that are not only important to them, but also resonate with their wider communities.

“Being the steadfast supporter of the Eskom Expo, we are thrilled to witness how it has evolved into a fertile ground for nurturing the aspirations of young scientists,” says Eskom acting group executive for Government & Regulatory Affairs, Natasha Sithole. “This week, we extend a resounding call to all participating learners urging them to keep their minds open to the wisdom of our esteemed judges. Embracing their insights can propel your research projects to new horizons. The Foundation firmly believes that investments in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI) act as the catalyst for uncovering enduring solutions to our nation’s pressing challenges.

“This week promises a captivating showcase of youthful ingenuity as learners explore diverse topics from behavioural studies to pioneering experiments, IT, machine learning, artificial intelligence applications, and the application of physics and mathematics,” Sithole says.

Eskom Expo executive director, Parthy Chetty, adds: “Eskom Expo is pleased to provide the platform for the only national event of its kind whereby learners start their journey at school level and, over many months, progress to higher levels of competition culminating in the International Science Fair. We are very pleased to see so many learners participate from across all nine provinces and we also welcome participation from 10 other countries to make this a truly international event.”

The rewards awaiting these budding scientists are as diverse as they are impressive, ranging from coveted bursaries and cash prizes to the chance to participate in the prestigious Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar during Nobel Week – along with valuable tech gadgets and real-world work experience during school breaks.

Eskom, along with other contributors, is sponsoring a number of bursaries – each valued at more than R400 000 – enabling deserving students to pursue engineering studies at a South African university of their choice, contingent upon meeting the requisite criteria upon receiving their matric results.