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Prejudging at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

By Nasreen Burgher, SAEON Egagasini Node
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Aviwe Godongwana prejudges an Earth Science project

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Moddy Pikiso interviews learners about their Environmental Science project

“We should not teach children the sciences but give them a taste for them.” 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is an annual competition where learners showcase their projects based on their own scientific research.

Partaking learners from various schools, in grades ranging from 6 to 12, are encouraged to choose from the 13 categories provided for their scientific projects.

The aims of this expo are to encourage young people to participate in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) projects, to develop the research skills of young scientists and to spark a passion for science amongst school learners.

This year, the Western Cape Regional Expo took place at the University of Cape Town’s Sports Centre, with prejudging commencing from the evening of the 27th right through to the 28th of August. SAEON’s Egagasini Node was well represented at the expo, with seven of its staff members and interns participating as judges in various categories.

Aviwe Godongwana officiated as a judge for Earth Science, Grant van der Heever for Animal Science, Donia Wozniak for Agricultural Sciences, Moddy Pikiso and I were in the Environmental Sciences category, Sonya de Waardt for Energy, and Sivuyisiwe Mbede for Social Sciences. 

Thomas Mtontsi, Science Engagement Officer of SAEON’s Egagasini Node, was appointed head judge for the expo. Also representing SAEON’s Egagasini Node was Thulwaneng Mashifane, a postdoctoral research fellow, who exhibited at the expo.

Judging programme

The judging programme is divided into two sections, with prejudging being the former and interviews the latter section. Each judge has an average of six to eight projects to review (depending on the total number of projects and the number of judges in the category, it could be more or fewer projects per judge).

Following the prejudging, learners arrive and are interviewed for about five minutes. The idea behind the interview is to assess whether the learner understands the project, the amount of help the learner received and whether it is their own work.

Some learners exhibited highly relevant projects – such as the current water restriction and plastic pollution issues – and came up with creative and innovative ways to address these problems.

Prejudging the regional expo was an enjoyable and rewarding experience, especially interacting with the learners and seeing their passion and enthusiasm for their projects. The event was a great success, and everyone involved – learners, judges and coordinators – could pride themselves on a job well done!

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