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Young SA scientists excel at Taiwan fair

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Two budding young scientists received awards at the 2024 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF), after successfully showcasing their research projects to judges and their peers at the National Taiwan Science Education Center in Taipei on February 8.

Johannes Deysel, a Grade 11 learner at Hoërskool Jim Fouché in Bloemfontein in the Free State, was awarded the F Award in the Computer Science and Information Engineering category; while Lethabo Molobi, a Grade 12 learner at Zinniaville Secondary School in the North West’s Bojanala region, was awarded the Fourth Award and the Viewer’s Choice Award in the Behavioural and Social Sciences category at the prestigious science fair.
Deysel showcased his research project titled “Breaking a Caesar Cipher/Vigenère Cipher Encryption for secure data communication”. This project aimed to identify vulnerabilities in ciphers and explore the factors influencing the strength of an encryption system by breaking both Caesar and Vigenère Ciphers.

Reflecting on his achievement, Deysel said: “Receiving recognition at a prestigious international science event was a tremendous honour for me. Being surrounded by some of the brightest minds of our generation was an experience that will forever resonate with me.
“Moreover, I had the opportunity to see the most beautiful places, while learning about many unique cultures and traditions, which greatly enriched my perspective in many ways.”

Molobi exhibited her research project titled “From Human Intelligence to Artificial Intelligence Chatbots: Modern Day Writing”, which looks at whether it is easy to differentiate between Artificial intelligence (AI)-generated text and human-generated text, in a school setting.

“I am extremely happy with my award. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my hard work pay off. Taking part in the TISF was an amazing experience. I learned a lot from the other participants, and about different countries and their cultural practices, because I interacted with many students from all around the world. Having been exposed to Taiwanese culture, the language and the people was an experience I will always cherish,” she said.

The acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Eskom Development Foundation, Mologadi Motshele, congratulated the duo on their achievements.

Lethabo Molobi grade 12 learner from Zinniaville Secondary School who won fourth place in Taiwan International Science Fair.

“We are extremely proud of our learners’ success. Competing on the global stage and receiving recognition amid 630 young scientists from 27 countries is a commendable feat. Eskom’s commitment to investing in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and innovation (STEMI) through the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists remains unwavering. The Expo is an excellent way to support and nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers and creates a solid foundation for the development and progress of our country”.

Meanwhile, Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said:
“This is a great to start to the new year, with these positive results from Taiwan. The Expo team of mentors has put in many hours of hard work during the December holidays to prepare these learners for the stringent competition and their efforts have paid off. These international competitions go further than just the academic activities, by exposing the learners to various cultures and is also the start of many friendships spanning across continents.”