SA young scientists to present cutting-edge research at Beijing Science Competition

Monday, 25 March 2024: Cutting-edge research projects by local young scientists will compete against other high-tech studies at this year’s Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition (BYSCC) in China, under the theme “Discovery, Innovation and Responsibility”.

The four young scientists, who will be accompanied by Dr Sure Mupezeni, Eskom Expo provincial coordinator for Limpopo, won their place to represent South Africa at the Beijing competition from 28 March to 1 April, after being nominated by a panel of academics and professionals at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) in October 2023.

Nyakallo Nonjabulo Mbongo, a Grade 11 Welkom-Gimnasium learner and Eskom Expo ISF Gold medal recipient in 2023, will showcase her research project, “Soil restoration, Inoculated biochar?” Mbongo was moved by how soil degradation threatens crop productivity and food security on a global scale. To improve soil quality, she explored various biochar inoculations, and performed several precise experimental trials to arrive at her conclusion. The significance of her findings is that small-scale farmers and gardeners can improve the quality of their crop yield by using a cost-effective, simple, and readily available inoculated biochar.

Kiyara Tami Swartbooi, a Grade 12 Port Rex Technical High School learner in East London and Eskom Expo ISF Silver medal recipient in 2023, will present her research project, “Thermal Faucet: A Smart Water Management System”. Swartbooi’s smart faucet (tap) prototype addressed two critical global issues: water and energy conservation. Her innovation is a significant advancement where smart home technology embraces energy and water conservation to produce an intelligent, intuitive, efficient, and cost-effective solution. Her mastery of technical terms and engineering processes set her aside from her peers.

Grade 12 learners, Steffan Thielen and Rohan van Loggerenberg from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, will showcase their research project, “Optimisation of Artificial Neural Network training”. The Eskom Expo ISF Gold medal recipients in 2023 asked, “How can the architecture of an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) be optimised through the use of a dynamic network architecture?” Specifically, they aimed to develop a system in which the architecture of an ANN dynamically adapts itself so that it efficiently fits the purpose during training. The learners demonstrated an in-depth understanding of Artificial Neural Networks and AI in general, and were able to articulate how current findings in these fields related to their research.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Eskom Development Foundation (Acting), Ms Mologadi Motshele, said: “Participating in the Eskom Expo offers young scientists valuable opportunities to nurture their creativity, enhance problem-solving abilities, and refine research skills, while devising innovative solutions to everyday challenges. When our budding scientists engage in international competitions like the BYSCC, they gain exposure to distinctive learning environments that can greatly benefit our nation. The transformative experiences awaiting these four learners will contribute to a cycle of knowledge-sharing, fostering more opportunities for aspiring young scientists to compete on a global scale and cultivating a pipeline for potential future scientists and engineers for our country.”

Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “Eskom Expo is grateful for the bilateral agreement with the Beijing Association for Science and Technology for hosting the South African team each year. The opportunities presented to these four young scientists will open up their minds to new scientific experiences and create life-long friends along the way, transcending borders across continents. These ambassadors will return to South Africa more enlightened and will be in a better position to promote STEMI- and Expo activities back in their schools, districts and regions.”

The 43rd BYSCC, hosted at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, aims to promote the advancement of youth scientific and technological endeavours. Its goals include nurturing the innovation and practical skills of young participants, enhancing their scientific and technological literacy, and inspiring the emergence of more young scientists. A total of 199 projects were submitted by Beijing students, while 21 projects were submitted by participants from other countries, including the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Italy, Russia, South Africa and Thailand, amongst others.

Registration to take part in 2024 Eskom Expo is open. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with TVET college learners (NC2 to NC4) can register their research projects by visiting

Download images of the learners here:

For media queries contact: JeVanne Gibbs at [email protected]


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