NC pupil to show­case re­search

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A PUPIL from Dou­glas High School in the North­ern Cape is one of two young sci­en­tists who have been se­lected to be show­cased at the 2020 Tai­wan In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence Fair, af­ter im­press­ing judges at the Eskom Expo for Young Sci­en­tists In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence Fair (ISF).

Miné Steenkamp, 16, from Dou­glas High School was, to­gether with Farida Ca­jee, 18, from Sch­weizer-reneke High School in the North West, se­lected by a panel of aca­demics and pro­fes­sion­als fol­low­ing the ISF, which was held in Gaut­eng in Septem­ber 2019.

The teens cap­ti­vated judges with their in­ge­nu­ity, depth of knowl­edge and mas­tery of in­quiry method­ol­ogy.

Steenkamp, who won Eskom’s best in­no­va­tive project award at ISF, will show­case her project: “Fight­ing crime with malaria-fight­ing drug”.

In­spired by a mur­der in her fam­ily, Steenkamp aimed to in­ves­ti­gate the use of artemisini­n com­bined with lu­mi­nol to re­trieve ev­i­dence more ef­fi­ciently from crime scenes, us­ing a smart­phone as the de­tec­tor, which could pro­vide highly ac­cu­rate on-scene analy­ses.

Ca­jee mean­while set out to find a way to help am­putees save hun­dreds of thou­sands of rand on pros­thet­ics. She de­signed a “mind-con­trolled 3D-printed pros­thetic hand” that aims to be a more af­ford­able pros­thetic al­ter­na­tive.

The project en­tails an elec­troen­cephalo­graph (EEG) head­set that mea­sures brain­waves paired with a pros­thetic hand from re­cy­cled ma­te­rial which is able to move based on thoughts.

Eskom Expo ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Parthy Chetty said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that it was very ad­mirable that there were two fe­male pupils rep­re­sent­ing South Africa.

“They can also en­cour­age more girls to take up sci­ence-re­lated stud­ies and ca­reers. We wish them well in their up­com­ing chal­lenge and have faith that they will rep­re­sent South Africa to the best of their abil­ity.”

The Tai­wan fair takes place from Fe­bru­ary 3 to 7, 2020 at the Na­tional Tai­wan Sci­ence Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter in Taipei.

South Africa par­tic­i­pates in this fair as it of­fers pupils an op­por­tu­nity to present their re­search to their peers from other coun­tries, while pro­mot­ing cross-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tional ex­change.

Eskom gen­eral man­ager for risk and sus­tain­abil­ity, An­drew Etzinger said: “Eskom Expo has for the past 40 years sought to nur­ture an in­ter­est in the sciences, and through strate­gic sup­port from Eskom en­able promis­ing young sci­en­tists, like the two se­lected, to rep­re­sent our coun­try in Tai­wan, to re­ceive even greater ex­po­sure to sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, math­e­mat­ics and in­no­va­tion (STEMI) ac­tiv­i­ties. Both girls have in-depth knowl­edge of their re­spec­tive fields and would ben­e­fit from in­ter­ac­tions with their peers at this com­pet­i­tive sci­ence fair.”

This year will see sev­eral pupils tak­ing part in in­ter­na­tional sci­ence fairs, in­clud­ing tours to the Kenya Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Fair; Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence Fair; The In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Fair (ISEF) in Ana­heim, Cal­i­for­nia; and the China Ado­les­cents Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Con­test (CASTIC) in China.

In­ter­na­tional sci­ence fairs are ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­ni­ties for young South African sci­en­tists to grow in­tel­lec­tu­ally and so­cially. These in­ter­na­tional fairs go be­yond their school, re­gional and na­tional sci­ence fair by open­ing new pos­si­bil­i­ties and shrink­ing the global vil­lage, which en­ables the shar­ing of knowl­edge and cross-pol­li­na­tion of ideas.

EXPO: Sup­plied

A young sci­en­tist, Miné Steenkamp, from Dou­glas High School will be rep­re­sent­ing South Africa at the 2020 Tai­wan In­ter­na­tional Sci­ence Fair. Pic­ture:

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