Whiz-kids take place with the world’s best

Young Bay science award winners will represent SA in Kenya, Arizona

Two young Port Elizabeth scientists will be flying off to represent South Africa after they clinched top honours at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.
Caroline Boshoff , of Cape Recife High, and Shaziyah Laher, of the Al Azhar Institute, were chosen to represent the country at the Kenyan Science and Engineering Fair from April 7 to 12 and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Arizona from May 12 to 17, respectively.
Shaziyah developed a new bio-plastic and Caroline developed educational development workbooks for dyslexic pupils.
About 600 pupils participated in the national Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair, held in Port Elizabeth in October 2018, and four pupils were then selected to compete in Kenya, and eight to compete in Arizona.
Caroline, 16, said she had been participating in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists since she was in grade 1, but that this was her greatest accomplishment.
She was the winner in the social and psychological sciences category with her project “Sakha Isizwe Nqemfundo”, which means building the nation through early education.
Caroline said her project was based on the benefits of an educational programme that focused on visual perception skills for children with visual disabilities and children from economically underprivileged areas to reach their development milestones sooner.
“I designed tools to assist children with their learning.
“I personally know they struggle with learning because I have dyslexia and my grandmother and mother used to spend hours finding ways that would make learning easier for me.
“My project is for five- and six-year-olds.
“I believe visual perception skills are the most basic skills children need to read, write and colour in,” Caroline said.
She said over the years, the science expos had helped with her emotional and psychological growth, and she looked forward to learning more.
“I will be travelling out of the country for the first time.
“I’m very nervous but I know I’m going to enjoy it.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people and learning about the different cultures in Kenya,” Caroline said.
The outspoken teen said she hoped to develop her project and have it introduced into the early childhood development education curriculum.”
A passionate, environmentally conscious Shaziyah, 16, said with science came unimagined possibilities for everyone who had a passion for it.
Shaziyah scooped five awards at the regional science expo in 2018 with her biodegradable plastic project.
“Non-biodegradable plastic is prevalent as it is integrated into every aspect of our lives.
“The careless disposal of plastic is one of the biggest problems humanity faces today – it has a devastating impact on the environment.
“So I developed a plastic that would solve the impeding dilemma of plastic pollution.
“When I started with the preparations of my thesis, I never imagined myself in such a position. It truly is a blessing.
“And I believe we should not let people or our living conditions determine our future.
“There will be challenges and obstacles along the way, but determination and passion as well as hard work are what is important,” Shaziyah said.
Eskom Expo executive director Parthy Chetty said there was a demand for women scientists, and this should encourage more women to pursue a career in the sciences.
“Now, more than ever, organisations like Eskom Expo for Young Scientists are providing additional support and opportunities for young women scientists to take their rightful place in a competitive society, and it starts at school level.
“So follow your passion to be an innovator, and the accolades and resources will soon follow,” Chetty said.

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