Bright sparks ready to light up US science fair
SA pupils take pioneering ideas to America
THREE Cape Town pupils will be flying the flag high at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, US, from tomorrow.
Chase Newel from Pinelands High, Gabriele Gess from St Cyprian’s and Frank Smuts of Parklands Secondary College jet off this morning to display their ideas at the week-long fair, which begins tomorrow.
They qualified via the Eskom Expo.
Newel’s gadget is a power bank that uses induction coils to charge cellphones. The power bank is tied to the user’s ankle and it generates power when you walk or run.
Its coils produce electricity without a connection to the power grid.
When the user is walking, the battery charges up to 0.7% battery power in 10 minutes; when running, it can charge up to 1.6% power in the same period.
His target market includes students and people living in areas without electricity. He is in the process of getting the power bank patented.
“I’ve worked on the idea for two years and this is its third prototype. The power bank relies on movement in order to power it,” Newel said.
“I’ve been through the hardships of going to a point where it didn’t work and having to re-evaluate and re-address it.”
Newel, who is an A-student in science, added that his short and long-term goals were to improve the power bank’s efficiency and make it less noticeable.
The power bank has a cable that runs from the ankle to your pocket or waist, where you have your phone. He said he is contemplating creating a wireless prototype.
Gess’ research focuses on determining the availability of pollen sources on deciduous fruits during the summer.
“I feel like this research is important because this is a worldwide problem which everyone has afforded little attention.”
She began working on her project in January.
“I think it’s going to benefit society because this is gravely important for food sources and food security.
“There is a problem with Western Cape bees. They do not have enough pollen sources to keep themselves in good condition between December and March. I don’t believe a solution can be found tomorrow – it will take some time.”
She conducted her research on a mountain in Piket-bo-berg.
Smuts’ idea focuses on aerodynamics.
He has designed a system that calculates the density of airflows by measuring how light is distorted when it passes through them. An example of this distortion is the wobbling in the air seen above a candle flame.
“These distortions can be measured by taking photographs of the airflow against a sheet with a pattern of dots, and then used as input by a computer program that calculates the corresponding density of the airflow.
“Thus, my set-up uses only a camera, a computer and a sheet of paper to calculate density.
“The set-up is simple and does not have to be placed inside the airflow being measured.”
He added: “The ability to accurately measure airflows is a critical component of aerodynamics and has many applications in engineering.”
The program he designed to calculate density runs on a personal computer.
In the future, he plans to rewrite the program so it can run on mobile devices.
His ambition is to publish his research in a scientific journal.
Chase Newel from Pinelands High School has been selected to represent South Africa at the Intel International Science Fair to be held in Pitsburgh Pennsylvania, US, this month.