The ISF brought together over 300 young scientists from Gauteng who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with 20 international peers hailing from Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Turkey. The event unfolded from October 3rd to 6th at the Birchwood Hotel Conference Centre in Boksburg.
This grand affair served as a platform for promoting STEM education, fostering innovation, and inspiring future scientists to delve into research interests, address concerns, and tackle real-world challenges.
Among the young prodigies, Likitha Chundru, a student from Bryanston High School in Johannesburg, emerged as the 2023 Top Senior Scientist. She claimed an impressive R75,000 prize for her groundbreaking work.
Chundru’s pioneering research focused on enhancing the germination and growth of non-legume plants using Rhizobium spp. Bacteria. Her findings are set to revolutionize crop production, contributing significantly to global food security.
Inge Higgins, representing Die Hoërskool Menlopark, earned the title of the 2023 Top Junior Scientist and was awarded a generous R50,000 cash prize. Higgins’s research delved into the impact of biodegradable olive-pulp plant pots on the germination and early growth of Afrikaner, Namaqualand Daisy, and Sunflower seeds. Her work demonstrated the accelerated germination of these seeds, impressing judges with her innovative approach.
Inge shared her enthusiasm, saying, “I started with the whole idea last year and finished the project last month. My experiment was inspired by my grandfather, who has an olive farm in the Northern Cape. I am excited that my project impressed the judges.”
The ISF recognized excellence by awarding 54 gold, 92 silver, 105 bronze medals, 62 Highly Commended certificates, and 23 bursaries, along with various other prizes.
Eskom Expo’s Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, highlighted the ISF as a celebration of the tireless efforts, commitment, and dedication displayed by the brightest young minds from South Africa and beyond. He praised the event’s role in nurturing innovative solutions born from young minds.
Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation, Buti Manamela, commended the learners’ projects for their relevance in addressing real problems and challenges faced by the nation and the world. He encouraged these young talents to continue their diverse projects, spanning fields such as biotechnology, electricity generation, water preservation, and food security.
Manamela emphasized that the projects demonstrated that one is never too young to understand the world one lives in and that classroom learning must be translated into resolving real-life challenges. He urged the learners to keep asking questions and exploring new ideas as a way to contribute to changing the world.
By Thembisa Shologu