Young scientists gear up for Regeneron science fair in Los Angeles, California

Likitha Chundru

Six young scientists from South Africa are set to show off their scientific brilliance at the world’s largest pre-college Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics competition in Los Angeles, California USA.

These individuals got the opportunity to represent the country at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) from 11 to 17 May 2024, following their successful entries in the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF), held in October last year.

More than 1 600 young scientists from around the world will compete at this year’s ISEF at the Los Angeles Convention Center, standing a chance to win prizes valued at more than R168 million. The South African learners who will compete are:

Alutha Botha, from Nombulelo Secondary School, Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape will be exploring underwater video surveillance of fish using remote mechanics.

Botha studied the behavior of juvenile fish in different habitats within the shallow areas of Algoa Bay. In earlier studies of these shallow coastal areas, the methods used did not allow for targeted data collection without damaging the habitats. He used remote underwater videos to access these areas. His research is an important benchmark for future studies on diversity and population counts in these specific habitats, using the technology of underwater surveillance systems.

Likitha Chundru, from Bryanston High School, Johannesburg will be looking at the effect of rhizobium bacterial application on seen termination and plant growth of non-legume monocotyledon and dicotyledon plants.

Likitha Chundru

Chundru used the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Rhizobium spp. to enhance the growth of non-legume staple crops such as maize. Her project has the potential to save farmers both time and resources, and offers a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers to increase crop yield.

Moreover, this solution is inexpensive, simple, and environmentally friendly, making it safe for farmers to use.

Matthew Collier-Reed, from Pinelands High School, Cape Town, will be looking at community support by connecting in-need individuals with essential services in the country through an accessible instant messaging service.

Matthew Collier Reed

Collier-Reed developed a Node. program that could be integrated into the back-end of a popular messaging app. The program provides important support services to people and facilitates interactive chats with users.

It also provides reports on local events, such as fires and floods, while allowing users to report such events. The program also guides users to suitable services from a list that encompasses homeless shelters, hospitals, police stations, rehabilitation facilities, and centers for child and youth support.

Keamogetse Precious Monna, from Ramotshere High School, Ngaka Modiri Molema, North West, will be improving retail security using metallic barcoding system.

Keamogetse Monnana

Monna used recycled materials to develop her own reliable security system to address the issue of retail store theft and has made significant progress with developing the system. Her innovation is a foundational step towards creating advanced security measures to protect retail businesses from losses due to theft.

Nicholas Zhang, 17 and Zaahid Sader, 17 in Grade 11 will be seeing to enhance bobsleigh performance through biometric design.

Nicholas Zhang – Zaahid Sader

The duo share a passion for bobsledding and designed two sleds that are inspired by nature, showcasing their growing interest in this field.

It is refreshing to see South African learners take a keen interest in winter sports to the extent that they set out to design sleds to outperform the existing ones.

Their analytical approach and extensive knowledge of biomimicry have led to new insights into bobsleigh aerodynamics. Their designs demonstrated improved performance compared to that of standard bobsleighs.

Chief Executive Officer of the Eskom Development Foundation (Acting), Mologadi Motshele, said, Eskom was proud of the value of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.

“As the young scientists prepare to embark on their journey to compete at the Regeneron ISEF, we at Eskom feel proud of the value of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists on the lives of the young South Africans and the many opportunities that are open for them to showcase their innovation and talent.”

“Their dedication and passion is truly inspiring, and we are confident that they will represent South Africa with distinction on the global stage. The participation of these learners not only showcases their individual talents, but also highlights the importance of investing in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Innovation (STEMI) education through initiatives like the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.

“These youngsters are the driving force behind unlocking South Africa’s full potential, and their contributions to the field of science and innovation are invaluable, believe in their ability to make a positive impact. We extend our heartfelt well wishes and unwavering support to these learners, and wish them all success in their endeavours at the Regeneron ISEF.”

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