Learners who honed their research projects under the Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SUNCEP) in the Faculty of Education walked away with a clutch of medals and prizes at a recent international competition for young scientists.
The competition, the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF), took place in Boksburg, Johannesburg, from 24 to 27 September 2019. The ISF brought together young scientists from across South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Ghana, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda.
The aim of the ISF, now in its 39th year, is to create awareness among learners about the wonders of science, contribute to their knowledge and broaden their scientific horizons.
Learners from both primary and high schools entered their science projects for the competition, which covered 13 different categories, including agricultural science, chemistry, computer science, energy and environmental studies, engineering and social sciences.
The competition was initially judged in 35 regions around the country, after which the winners of each region attended the ISF.
In the Stellenbosch region, 19 projects from learners at 19 different schools were eventually chosen to represent the region at the finals. The winners were selected from 33 schools at a competition held at Bloemhof Hoër Meisieskool on 22 and 23 August.
Erika Hoffman, project coordinator at SUNCEP and the Expo regional coordinator in Stellenbosch, said their job is to prepare these learners to make use of literature studies, plan and execute their research studies and draw their own conclusions in order to deliver quality research projects for the competition.
This year's prizes at the ISF amounted to R9 million and included cash prizes; bursaries sponsored by Eskom, Wits University, the University of Pretoria, Siemens and Babcock; science kits for schools; along with laptops and tablets for pupils.
The Stellenbosch region's learners managed to secure three bronze medals, eight silver medals, one gold medal, one category winner and four special prizes at the ISF. A Grade 12 participant was also awarded bursaries from Eskom and Siemens for four years of study. In addition, four learners were nominated to participate in various international science fairs.
“Participating in the competition not only equips learners with solid science and technology skills, but also helps them to settle on a future career path, supplement their life skills and grow their confidence," said Hoffman.
Besides providing supplementary tuition to learners in mathematics and sciences, SUNCEP also provides training courses for teachers in mathematics and science.
Photo: Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor with Erika Hoffman and Bersan Lesch from the Department of Science and Technology.