Earlier this month, three learners departed to participate in the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering, and Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) in Houston, US.
The three learners did exceptionally well in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Finals in October last year and are thus being afforded the honour of representing South Africa at the I-SWEEEP.
The I-SWEEEP is the largest science fair event of its kind in the world with this speciality.
I-SWEEEP promotes engineering inventions and energy efficiency/management discoveries that will nurture environment-friendly technology concepts in secondary education. I-SWEEEP gives learners the opportunity to position themselves as the scientists and engineers of the future.
State-owned power utility Eskom posits that this is a pivotal step in its education efforts to develop an environment-conscious global community that inspires personal responsibility in caring for the planet and those who share it.
The leaners presented the following projects on the international stage. Firstly, Sanele Msizi Hlongwane from Ladysmith, presented his project titled ‘Propellant Cheapskates’. The purpose of this project is to determine whether different propellant families used in amateur rockets can be improved so that they can perform nearly as powerfully as industrial propellants used in commercial and private rockets.
Secondly, Cornelis Rautenbach from Pretoria, presented his project titled ‘The El Niño Southern Oscillation and rainfall in South Africa’. In South Africa, it is a general perception that El Niño seasons are associated with overall droughts, while La Niña seasons are associated with overall wetter conditions. In the study, this perception was tested by investigating whether the influence of El Niño and La Niña seasons are month- and area-dependent instead of being weather-dependent.
Thirdly, Junho Ko from Cape Town, will present his project titled ‘Decreasing Temperature and Retaining Hot Water in Informal Settlements using Plastic Bottles filled with Water’. Millions of people living in South Africa are forced to live in informal settlements, and the heat-induced by these “shacks” can cause many heat-related problems for the people living in the shacks. Ko decided to come up with a cheap, easy-to-use solution for this problem.
“This global competition provides a platform for the youth from diverse backgrounds, to demonstrate their ingenuity in trying to solve the world’s most pressing challenges through science and engineering,” says Eskom Expo for Young Scientists executive director Parthy Chetty.
He adds that the future is in their hands, so it is important and admirable, that companies, such as Eskom and the Expo for Young Scientists, provide a platform locally to ensure global participation and international competitiveness. “We’re very proud of the South African learners who excelled in the Eskom Expo International Science Fair in 2016 and who are now competing in I-SWEEEP.”
Chetty mentions that every year, projects from the expo have returned with medal honours, which show how competitive the learners are internationally, if given the opportunity.