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Dashyin Gilbert from Curro Durbanville receives scholarship from University of Pretoria

An experiment to establish the effect of garden lights on honeybees and the improvement of the diagnostic accuracy of a doctor’s stethoscope by taking it digital have won their young inventors top spots in this year’s Eskom science expo.

Rebecca Leisegang of Parktown Girls' High won R50,000 when she was named junior winner at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair awards ceremony. This was for her work on swarms of honeybees and how they are impacted by garden lights.

The top senior prize of R75,000 went to Sachin Mohan of Horizon High School for showing how digitalising a traditional stethoscope can increase its diagnostic accuracy.

The award ceremony was held this weekend as a virtual affair because of the pandemic. The competition saw primary and high schools from 35 regions across SA and another 36 participants from other countries competing.

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said in a statement 1,329 projects had been registered in science fairs across all nine provinces, and 979 of the 1,614 participants were girls — “a whopping 61%”.

He congratulated those who had reached the final stages of the competition under challenging circumstances for “self-development, career-pathing and acquiring and nurturing the skills of the 21st century” through their participation in the  programme.

Other prizes won included bursaries, laptops and other economic benefits. Eskom awarded 17 bursaries towards bachelor degrees in engineering and diplomas in the same field.

Nthato Minyuku, Eskom’s group executive of government and regulatory affairs, said they were particularly pleased by the high number of entries from girls happening in a pandemic as this was an indication that women are particularly resilient.

“It bodes well for the future of the country, and the empowerment of women in particular,” she said.

Some of these projects are:

* Xichavo Mashele from Khanyisa Education Centre found that housebreakings in Giyani peak during holidays and the culprits are mostly youths.

* Daleen van der Merwe and Mia van der Schyff of the Voortrekker Comprehensive School improved ventricular assist devices so that healthcare providers and patients can communicate more effectively and reduce the chance of healthcare errors.

* Mthokozisi Mbali from Olwandle High School developed a project to assist students work out the careers best suited to their skills and personality

* Sandile Dube from Lee Rand High created a cooler able to reduce the temperature of hot food to an acceptable level in minutes.

The Derek Gray award — a medal and scholarship for the University of Pretoria — went to Dashyin Gilbert from Curro Durbanville. He examined which aerodynamic elements can help an F1 racing car to lap faster.

De Ruyter says the development of such great projects by school learners is an “assurance that the future is in good hands”.


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