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Young South African women shine at the Intel International Science Fair in the US
Every year hundreds of South Africa’s top young scientists compete at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair with the hope of taking home prizes worth more than R4 million and the chance to attend one of the prestigious international science fairs.
For 2018, nine outstanding young scientists were selected to travel to Pittsburgh, USA to represent South Africa and their projects at the INTEL International Science Fair.
This year three learners won prizes at the world’s largest and most prestigious science fair, including one special award and two category awards. If you consider that 1 792 learners from 81 countries competed, our local girls did truly amazing work.
Alecia Brits, a grade 12 learner at Diamantveld High School in Kimberley won a special award from the USAID Mother and Child Programme and $500 in prize money. Her project, "Biochemical frontline infection detection" aimed to identify and determine the susceptibility of micro-organisms that cause skin infections without the need for laboratory infrastructure or equipment.
Gabriele Gess, a grade 12 learner from St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town took home fourth prize in the Animal Sciences category and $500 in prize money. Her project investigated the availability and sources of pollen collected by honey bees on a fruit farm in the Piket Bo-berg area in the Western Cape Province during the summer months (December to March) when there is little or no rainfall.
The third prize was won by Martha Djan, a grade 12 learner from Potchefstroom High School for Girls in the North West. She too took home fourth place prize and $500 in prize money for her project that looked at how to extract metals from mine dumps using plants.
"Just being chosen to attend INTEL ISEF is a huge honour. To attend an international fair of this nature is an incredible learning experience. The exposure these young scientists get is priceless and the opportunity to engage with other young scientists and leaders in their fields spurs many on pursue careers in the sciences. To add a haul of prizes to the experience is just the cherry on the top!" says Parthy Chetty, Executive Director of the Eskom Expo.
"The competition at INTEL ISEF is stiff but these learners truly are the cream of the crop. They are doing exciting, innovative work trying to solve some of South Africa’s most serious challenges using very innovative approaches. We are delighted that these learners have had this opportunity to gain this kind of exposure and we are very proud that they represented South Africa so well on the international stage," says Pieter Pretorius, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.
"Every year we are impressed by the ingenuity shown by the participants at Eskom Expo. Their commitment to finding innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems such as sustainability is admirable. Eskom Expo recognises and rewards their contribution to the global knowledge base," says Chetty.
"At Eskom we have a huge need for talented scientists and engineers and by supporting the Eskom Expo we are able to invest in developing a pipeline of talented technical specialists. The Eskom Expo isn’t just about cultivating an interest in the sciences but through strategic support we encourage young scientists to pursue their interest at a tertiary level. This long-term vision means that in a few years’ time these scientists will begin to serve South Africa in areas beset by a scarcity of skills," says Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission and Acting Group Executive Sustainability & Risk.
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For Media enquiries, please contact Thokozile Skhosana on (011) 544 1900 or e-mail . For more information on the Eskom Expo, contact ISF Director for Eskom Expo for Young Scientists: Krishnie Naidoo on email:  or 011 894 1365
About the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists NPO 
The Eskom Expo provides a platform for the learners to increase their awareness and knowledge of the wonders of science and hopes to broaden their scientific horizons and encourage them to pursue careers in the sciences by igniting a passion for innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
By the very nature of its activities, it is contributing to improving the scientific, technical and research skills of young people, and providing an excellent opportunity for teachers to engage in the type of activity promoted within the education curriculum. The Expo provides an ideal opportunity for both teachers and learners to develop skills in scientific project work.
Now in its 37th year, the Expo is endorsed by the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Basic Education and has also received recognition from the Presidency. It sees learners presenting their scientific research work to judges, professionals from the private sector, academics, scientists, educators, learners from other schools, parents as well as other interested members from the general community.