By Emily Setona
BETHLEHEM –A host of driven young scientists showcased their outstanding scientific and innovative research projects at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists in the Bethlehem regional finals which were held at the University of the Free State’s Mandela Hall last week.
A total of 242 learners in grades 4 to 12 from the region gathered to present their research projects. The evaluation of the 177 projects on display was conducted by 63 judges, comprising educators, specialists, scholars, and avid Eskom Expo supporters.
Asheera Osman of Ladybrand High School was named the best overall project winner and she could not conceal her excitement. My project was about making biodegradable soap.
“I created a soap that can be used for washing clothes or dishes, with the soapy water being used on plants, thereby not wasting precious water. I have won a gold medal. I also won the best project in the Environmental Sciences Category where I received a hamper and a trophy; Eskom’s Award for Best Female where I won a speaker; and the Best overall project at the Bethlehem Regional Expo 2023 where i received a UPS and a cash prize,” Osman said.
“Being named the best overall project winner at the science Expo is honestly one of my greatest achievements. The feeling is unreal and unexplainable. It was truly a remarkable and humbling experience.
“The journey to this point has been filled with curiosity, countless hours of research, and a genuine passion for exploring the world of science. Winning this award not only validates the effort I poured into my project but also motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge.
“I am grateful for the recognition from the judges and the opportunity to share my findings with others. This achievement serves as a reminder that hard work and perseverance can lead to extraordinary outcomes in the world of scientific exploration,” she said.
Eskom Expo for Young Scientists Free State representative, Nicho Swartz, described Osman’s win as a great accomplishment because even though her school did not participate in the expo, it is through her own efforts and curiosity that Asheera entered the contest.
At the region’s awards ceremony, five exceptional young scientists were awarded the prestigious Eskom special awards.
The learners, who received Bluetooth speakers, were: best female: Asheera Osman from Ladybrand High School, best energy project: Krish Patel and NthatiMoloi from Hoërskool Harrismith, best development project: Bokamoso Ramapaeyane and Lereko Lentsha from Hlohlowane Primary School.
Other special prizes were awarded to the following young scientists: Almare Coffee from Ladybrand Primary school: top junior project,Krish Patel and Nthati Moloi: top senior project, Osman was also awarded for the best overall project.
In addition, a total of 59 learners received bronze medals, 25 were awarded silver, and 10 received highly esteemed gold medals. Notably, learners from New Horizon College Harrismith secured the highest number of gold medals, and overall medals at the event.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “Eskom Expo contributes to the overarching strategy to foster skills development, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI) at the school level.
“This event not only provides a platform for gifted young scientists to exhibit their cutting-edge innovations but also exposes them to a realm of captivating career prospects in diverse scientific fields.”