South African young scientists made a remarkable impression by securing both a Special Award and a Community Award at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

The Regeneron ISEF was held at the Los Angeles Convention Centre from 11 to 17 May 2024, featured young scientists representing 49 US states and nearly 70 countries, regions, and territories across the world. Eskom Expo for the Young Scientists (EEYS) also participated, with a few young South African learners demonstrating their talent and innovation skills.

Nicholas Zhang and Zaahid Sader from the UJ Academy Maths, Science & ICT School of Specialisation in Johannesburg received a full scholarship award sponsored by the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. The duo showcased their project, entitled “Enhancing Bobsleigh Performance Through Biomimetic Design Inspired by the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) and Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)”.

“We are absolutely thrilled about the recognition and the awards we have received at this most competitive ISEF, and this is a great deal not only us them the most enriching experiences we could ever have,” they say. “It was not easy to reach this level and we are excited that our perseverance has won us this recognition.

“Connecting with like-minded individuals and engaging in insightful conversations was truly inspiring and enabled us to discover a wealth of knowledge. We want to urge our fellow students never to undermine and lose sight of the power of their dreams.

“Through Eskom Expo, you uncover limitless opportunities and possibilities, and the youth must seize every opportunity presented to them in pursuing their passion for science and engineering.”

The other award winner was Matthew Collier-Reed, a Grade 12 learner at Pinelands High School in Cape Town, for the project, entitled “Community support: connecting in-need individuals with essential services in South Africa through an accessible instant messaging service”.

Collier-Reed was one of the recipients of the Regeneron Community Award, valued at $500 (about R9 076), and his project was amongst the 30 to receive recognition out of nearly 1 700 participants who had presented their projects to demonstrate their commitment in addressing local community challenges and problems to positively impact their communities.

Collier-Reed says: “It’s an honour to receive the Community Innovation award. However, it’s less about me and more about the recognition being given to community support projects, a testimony that it’s possible for young people to make a difference in in communities and bring growth and sustainability in our society.

“The entire experience was a ton of fun meeting new, like-minded people, and an opportunity to learn about all the different cultures, it was an amazing experience.”

Other learners who reached this level are Keamogetse Precious Monna from Ramotshere High School in Ngaka Modiri Molema, North West; Likitha Chundru from Bryanston High School in Johannesburg; and Alutha Botha from Nombulelo Secondary School in Makhanda (Grahamstown).

Mologadi Motshele, CEO of the Eskom Development Foundation (Acting), says: “Eskom leadership and all its employees take immense pride in the accomplishments made by these learners, our future scientists, and engineers. After being finalists in the 2023 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, they managed to successfully represent South Africa in the world’s largest pre-college STEMI competition.”

Eskom Expo executive director Parthy Chetty says: “We are extremely proud of all the leaners as they competed with the best in the world. The new experiences and the networks the learners had will surely add to their scrapbook of memories that will last a lifetime. The learner participation up to this highest level and the awards won is a demonstration of the continuous support from Eskom leadership and management to make Eskom Expo a national and international success, as well as the teacher’s hard the learners’ perseverance, and commitment by the Eskom Expo staff, mentors and all the volunteers in the Expo programme.”

Registration to take part in 2024 Eskom Expo is open, with District Expos currently underway. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with learners from TVET colleges (NC2 to NC4) can register their projects on the Eskom Expo website: