Four young scientists from Flora Park Comprehensive High School put Limpopo and the country on the international map following their participation in the 39th annual Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair that took place in Boksburg recently.
Keith Chituni, Morongwa Makola, Sechaba Manamela and Musawenkosi Mupezeni were among over 600 South Africa’s best young scientists unearthed during months of regional expos. It was learnt that the challenge brought together the brightest young scientists from across the country as well as from Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda. It was further reported that after rounds of science expos in 35 regions around the country, the engineering and energy categories proved to be the most popular among young scientists with learners aiming to find alternative solutions to power South Africa. Participants looked into generating electricity using carbon dioxide in water, methane gas from cow manure as renewable energy and self-generating hydroelectric power systems as alternate means of energy among others.
A solar and wind electric power plant earned Musawenkosi, a Grade 12 learner, a silver medal and a bursary worth R400 000. He said his project can generate electricity through wind as he indicated that the Bernoulli effect is applied to improve wind turbines while the thermoelectric device improves the solar panel efficiency by capturing heat energy. He highlighted that the two renewable sources are combined to create a power plant to solve problems of load shedding and electric bills and reiterated that the power plant was cheap and environment friendly. Last year he participated at the Young Scientists International Science Fair in Gauteng with a green power station model that earned him a second place.
The bursary allows Musawenkosi to further his studies in any engineering discipline at an institution of higher learning of his choice. He outlined that he would like to study Mechatronic engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand next year. He added that he was looking for investors or financial sponsors to help him build a bigger plant that would supply one province with electricity at a cost of less than R1 million.
Keith’s science undertaking which earned him a bronze medal was focused on eliminating the dangers of used lube oil as he mentioned that his project was about recycling the used lube oil by means of catalyst cracking and fractional distillation procedure to produce short hydrocarbon alkenes such as methane which can be used as fuel. The Grade 10 learner said he used lube oil, a dangerous substance which, through inappropriate dumping, has damaged water bodies, land, air and humans.
During last year’s competition Keith designed a machine which senses the smell of alcohol in the classroom and sends a signal to the principal’s office for educators to investigate. The second machine worked as a register and if it finds that one learner is not in class, will alert the principal while the third machine detects harmful items such as knives and guns on learners.
The two Grade 10 learners Morongwa and Sechaba collaborated in designing a vibrating car key that made it possible for them to attain highly recommended certificates.
The duo was also invited to compete in the challenge next year with the same project. They said the car key vibrates when the alarm is triggered to alert the driver. They further explained that when the key vibrates it also sends a signal to both the tracking and insurance companies. The aim of the project is to reduce car theft, they indicated.
All four young scientists received medals and certificates for taking part in the competition and they stated that this was an informative and tricky challenge. They encouraged fellow learners to take part in such competition to gain knowledge.
Story/photos: ENDY SENYATSI