AHRI researchers Dr Shannon Russell, Dr Busi Nkosi, Dr Dirk Lamprecht, Shi-Hsia Hwa and Professor Nceba Gqaleni represented AHRI as judges at two of this year’s regional Eskom Expos for Young Scientists in KwaZulu-Natal province.

The Eskom Expo is held annually in South Africa with the aim of supporting budding scientists at school level in identifying a problem, analysing it, finding solutions and communicating these solutions effectively.

Dr Russell, an AHRI postdoctoral fellow, says the passionate female scientists made a strong impression.

“Some of the most confident, ambitious young scientists were Grade 5 and 6 girls. They knew the ins and outs of their projects. All in all, I was incredibly impressed at the enthusiasm of the students, as well as the high quality of science and scientific method being showcased”.

Quality science and maths education has long been a concern in South Africa, and platforms like the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists helps to create and sustain an interest in science and maths for many learners.

Project topics at the Eskom Expo ranged from addressing bullying at schools and obesity among teenagers/learners, to innovations such as using locally available materials to design user-friendly waste disposal to keep children and communities safe from environmental hazards.

“The effort, commitment and dedication from the teachers, learners and parents, as well as the range and scope of projects that the learners developed, inspired me,” said Dr Busi Nkosi, an AHRI Senior Social Scientist. “A lot of thinking was put into the projects to make the projects relevant to the learners’ life experiences and related social and health issues.”

(Top photo: AHRI Senior Social Scientist Dr Busi Nkosi presents prize winners with their awards at the North Coast Eskom Expo Fair which took place at the University of Zululand)