Young scientists at Expo show that science is fun

October 13th, 2014, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: PositionIT, Articles: Vector, Featured: EE Publishers


Enthusiasm for science and ingenuity best describes the 34th International Science Fair held in Boksburg from 7 to 10 October 2014. The Eskom Expo for young scientists was attended by over 900 young people from all over South Africa with 632 unique exhibits showing their passion for science and technology.

Hans van de Groenendaal, EngineerIT features editor presenting the Hendrik van der Bijl award to  Tyrique Byroo of Star College for his project  "It's a Berry bright future"

Hans van de Groenendaal, EngineerIT features editor presenting the Hendrik van der Bijl award to Tyrique Byroo of Star College, KZN for his project “It’s a Berry bright future”.

The Expo is the culmination of local events held earlier this year where the best entries were invited to show at this international event.

The judging criteria are based on the scientific work and effort that go into the project, the initiative displayed and the scientific method followed by the learner, coupled with the quality of the findings and the scientific and technical skills that the learner develops. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded at the regional and national finals. A number  of special awards also recognise outstanding projects and selected learners are offered the opportunity to participate in international science fairs.

To stimulate the direct involvement of sponsors in Expo awards, Dr. Stafford Smithies, encouraged and supported by Chris Yelland, introduced the Kelvin Awards at the national Expo finals, after the Faraday Awards, originally sponsored by the London-based Institution of Engineering and Technology from 2001, were discontinued in 2009.  Last year the programme was renamed as the Hendrik van der Bijl Awards in recognition of Dr. van der Bijl’s contribution to science and engineering on many fronts.

Grade 9 Twins, Michelle and Chris Kolver  at Hoerskool Waterkloof  won the Copper Development Association sponsored Henrik van der Bijl awards for their project "Ant strength", an innovative project calculating the strength of various species of ants with that of man. Ants are stronger!

Grade 9 twins, Chris and Michelle Kolver at Hoërskool Waterkloof in Pretoria won the Copper Development Association-sponsored Hendrik van der Bijl award for their project “Ant strength”, an innovative project comparing the strength of various species of ants with that of man. Ants are stronger!

The response from industry  was exceptional: sponsoring  R111 000 in prize money;  an all- expenses paid visit to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site in Carnarvon, Northern Cape, and an opportunity to be interviewed  for a SKA bursary; a Raspberry Pi with all accessories from RS Components South Africa;  and science books sponsored by the US mission in South Africa. Companies who sponsored the cash awards were: AAB, Actom, AEL Mining Service’s, Communica, Context Relevant, Copper Development Association of South Africa, DetNet South Africa, EE Publishers, Eon Consulting, Explolabs, Hatch Goba, ITC Services, National Instruments, South African Radio League, Society of Telkom Engineers, Steinmüller Africa, Victor Solomon & Associates.

It is encouraging to see industry supporting the promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Amongst the many categories the two most popular were “Energy: alternative and renewable” with 95 entries, closely followed by “Innovation and technology, including recycling and recycled materials” with 84 entries. It is perhaps not surprising as those two topics are frequently in the news.

The financial administration for the awards is done by EE publishers as an additional contribution to the Hendrik van der Bijl awards programme.

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