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SAEON programme hones research and presentation skills

By Nozipiwo Hambaze, SAEON Elwandle Coastal Node
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Chumani Nelo, a learner from Mary Waters High School in Grahamstown, arrives in Phalaborwa to participate in the annual SAEON Science Engagement Symposium

The Elwandle Coastal Node issued a call to all the learners in its education programme to enter the SAEON environmental science competition.

The prize? A trip to Phalaborwa and the opportunity to present their science at SAEON’s annual Science Engagement Symposium.

Although several learners showed interest, only ten were brave enough to develop and present their research projects. Out of the ten projects entered into the competition, six were developed using ocean data made available by the Elwandle Node, three used their schools’ weather station data and one focused on a social science component. 

All projects made extensive use of scientific investigation skills and were presented with great passion, which made it difficult for the judges to choose the best project.

The winner was Chumani Nelo from Mary Waters High School in Grahamstown, who presented on seasonality in sea surface temperature and chlorophyll between a sheltered site and exposed site in Algoa Bay. Chumani travelled to Phalaborwa in September to present her project at the Science Engagement Symposium.

Chumani was awarded a special book prize by Dr Angus Paterson, Managing Director of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. The budding scientist also received a bronze medal for her project at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists.

Reflecting on her experiences, Chumani wrote: SAEON has given me an opportunity to be exposed to many different fields of marine science in a simple and fun way. The experience of putting the project together taught me something I did not know before. Standing in front of the audience and presenting my research project is another skill I have acquired through my involvement with SAEON. The most salient experience was travelling by plane for the first time. I will forever be grateful for the exposure and the experience I was granted by SAEON.

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