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Young scientists stun with impressive innovations and win prizes worth over R10 million
Boksburg hosted over 500 learners this week in the annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF). These budding young scientists were in Johannesburg to compete in the prestigious science fair with the hope of taking home a share of R10 million worth in prizes.
Top performing scholars were awarded prizes in the form of bursaries from Eskom, Siemens, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand to study degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Laptops, cash prizes as well as the coveted chance to represent South Africa at prominent international science fairs in the United States, China, Taiwan, Turkey, Zambia and Kenya are also awarded to deserving learners with the help of various long standing sponsors of the Eskom Expo.
These prizes were awarded at the ISF Special Awards and Grand Awards ceremony on Thursday, 4 October and Friday 5 October respectively. 512 finalists from 35 regions across South Africa and other countries such as Mexico, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania competed at the Eskom Expo ISF at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg.
Top Senior Eskom Expo ISF 2018 Scientist is Klerksdorp matric learner Aqil Variava who was awarded the prestigious Professor Derek Gray Memorial Award for his project, the “Pollution Index” – an environmental management software set to tackle pollution through providing an in-depth analysis of freshwater bodies by providing both the potential cause and appropriate corrective measures. This award is a full bursary in the Faculty of Science from the University of Pretoria. Part of his prize is also attending the Youth Science Forum in Stockholm, Sweden in December 2019 where he will attend a Nobel Awards Ceremony and get to meet several Nobel laureates. Aqil also received a whopping R75000 cash prize for his outstanding project.
The Top Junior Eskom Expo ISF 2018 Scientist is Grade Damian van der Merwe, a Grade 7 learner from Crawford Lonehill Preparatory. Damian won R50 000 cash and his brilliant project tested the possibility of being able to assist students to use a new method of learning called educational gamification.
Another big winner of the week was Port Elizabeth learner Brad Ettiene Spies from D.F. Malherbe High School. Brad created what he calls the “Spin-tacular” – a wind turbine device wind that is able to produce more than enough electrical energy to power/charge mobile devices and lights. He was awarded the Siemens Grand Prize which is a full scholarship to study in Berlin, Germany which is a three and a half year high level apprenticeship program. Upon his return to South Africa, he will be given the opportunity to join the Siemens workforce.
Every year, title sponsor Eskom awards bursaries and four Special Awards to the Best Female, Best Development, Best Energy and Best Energy Efficiency projects which are selected amongst the energy categories.
“Eskom promotes the participation of rural/development schools and females which aligns with our business strategy of developing women and HDI (Human development Index). Eskom’s long-term growth plan is also developing a pipeline of scientists, technicians and engineers to employ internally and contribute to the sustainability of the organisation. These are some of the reasons why the Eskom Expo is flagship event for us and important sustainability driver for the organisation,” says Chairman of the Eskom Expo Board of Directors Pieter Pretorius.
This year, Eskom offered 14 bursaries to deserving Grade 12 finalists to study electrical engineering at a South African university of their choice. These bursaries will be awarded to the learners provided they meet the required criteria when they receive their matric results at the end of the year.
The Eskom Special Prizes were awarded to the following learners:
Tumelo Ramokoni, Grade 7, Mapudithomo Primary School, Polokwane

Best Female Project
SOLAR COOLER BOX – Tumelo created a solar cooler box that keeps food, drinks and medicine to cool using solar instead of ice or electricity and can also charge a phone.
Lebohang Ngake, Grade 10, Setjhaba Se Maketse C/S, Bloemfontein
Best Development Project
WIND WINDOW GENERATOR – investigated a way of generating energy from wind; developed a prototype that is clipped onto a window of a moving vehicle to create kinetic energy.
Sachin Mohan, Grade 8, Horizon International High School, Johannesburg

Best Energy Project
HARNESSING THE POWER OF MOTOR VEHICLES – investigated and aimed to create a renewable source of energy that can provide power to traffic lights continuously for 24 hours a day
Damian van der Merwe, Grade 7, Lonehill Crawford Preparatory, Johannesburg
Best Innovation Project
SCHOOLIO™ - Damian created Schoolio™ to allow students to learn through playing
syllabus specific games and technology.
In closing the 38th ISF, Eskom Thava Govender  Group Executive: Generation and Acting Group Executive Risk and Sustainability, said the Eskom Expo is a demonstration of Eskom’s commitment to helping develop skilled science and engineering professionals, not only in South Africa but the rest of the continent.
“Creating skills in these fields and bridging the developmental gap between nations is a worldwide challenge and the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is one way of attempting to do that. Each region needs to start at home and address this challenge in its own backyard and we are doing that while we also support other countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia. The competition is making a significant contribution to sustainable socio-economic development in Africa by empowering its children.”
Media enquiries contact: Silindile Nyathikazi on email or +27 71 291 9959.
For more information contact the Executive Director for Eskom Expo for Young Scientists: Parthy Chetty on email: or 011 894 1365.
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About the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists NPO
The Eskom Expo provides a platform for learners to increase their awareness and knowledge of the wonders of science and also 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 making a contribution 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 38th 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.