TWO Kingswood College grade 9 pupils, one of them from Port Alfred, scooped first prize in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists at regional level in Grahamstown recently.
Over 130 pupils from Grahamstown, Port Alfred and Riebeeck East schools entered the expo – Port Alfred schools that entered projects were Port Alfred High School, Kuyasa Combined School and Port Alfred Primary School.
Over 120 projects were entered, falling into several categories including environmental and agricultural sciences, chemistry, housing, computer sciences, energy, environmental sciences, food technology, health care, physics and plant sciences.
THE BEES KNEES: Kingswood College grade 9 pupils Louise Poole (left) and Jamie-Lee Stone with their winning project “Save the rhino – training the honey bee” at the regional finals of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists at Rhodes University in Grahamstown recently Picture: SID PENNEY
Jamie-Lee Stone from Port Alfred and Louise Poole of the Grahamstown district named their innovative project “Save the Rhino – training the honey bee”, and it dealt with training honey bees to detect substances like rhino horn.
Jamie-Lee is the daughter of Kevin and Julie Stone of KJ Bricks in Port Alfred, and Louise is the daughter of Richard and Marianne Poole of Aloe & Elephant Lodge outside Grahamstown.
Speaking at the prize-giving function at Rhodes University’s chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences department, Professor Ric Bernard, Dean of Science, said he was very impressed with the “really, really good research and amazing work” that had gone into producing the wide array of projects.
The winning project of the two Kingswood pupils saw them spending weeks of research and work in training bees to detect the smell of kudu horn with a reward system in which the bees were given sugar water every time they smelt the kudu horn.
They were unable to get their hands on any rhino horn, which was understandable, and they used a similar substance like kudu horn for the training.
The bees learnt to associate the smell of the kudu horns in a short space of time.
“They are easier and cheaper to transport to border posts where they could be used to detect smuggled substances like rhino horn,” said the delighted pair after the awarding of the prizes.
They were awarded a gold medal each for their top placing, as well as a scholarship for a year’s study at Rhodes. They will also be flying to Pretoria in October where they will present their project at the National Science Expo.
The top five projects for the Grahamstown region were:
1st Jamie-Lee Stone and Louise Poole (Kingswood) – Save the Rhino – training the honey bee
2nd Katie Allison (DSG) – Testing the effectiveness of anti-fouling paints on river boats
3rd Roxanne Williamson (DSG) – Polybrick breakthrough
4th Megan Meyer and Celine Leach (DSG) – Development of a light, cost-effective brick that is environmentally friendly
5th Mbasa Ngcoza (Graeme College) – Cooking and cleaning.
Each of those finishing in the top-five won gold medals and bursaries to Rhodes for one year of study.
Over 100 projects were presented to the judges – among those entered by Port Alfred High School pupils were: “Effect of different sources of water on growth of plants” by Ayanda Mtatana; “An innovative way to recharge electric cars” by Tyler du Plessis; “A cost-effective and environmentally friendly rehabilitation of our local dump sites” by Jessie Ruth Price; and “Muscle power through hockey” by Joelene Mitchley.