Photo Credit: Supplied

Siblings Giancarlo and Santiné van der Merwe have been awarded scholarships in the United States after competing in the 2023 Genius Olympiad.


Northern Cape, South Africa (23 July 2023) – Giancarlo and Santiné van der Merwe, two aspiring siblings from Postmasburg in the Northern Cape, have achieved extraordinary success at the prestigious 2023 Genius Olympiad in the United States of America. Their remarkable projects earned them silver medals and renewable scholarships worth $20,000 each to the renowned Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the United States.

Giancarlo, a talented 18-year-old currently in Grade 12 with Curro Online, spearheaded an innovative carbon capture technology project aimed at reducing the detrimental impact of carbon dioxide emissions on our planet. His meticulous research resulted in the discovery of a cutting-edge technology that converts carbon dioxide into valuable carbon nanofibers and oxygen. Giancarlo’s sustainable method has the potential to revolutionise multiple industries and significantly mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases, contributing to the fulfilment of the UN Paris Agreement requirements.

His younger sister is fourteen-year-old Santiné, a Grade 9 learner also with Curro Online. Motivated by the eye-opening documentary Seaspiracy, Santiné embarked on a mission to address the critical issue of ghost nets in our ocean by designing a device capable of tracking fishing gear to prevent the loss of marine life. Her innovation and commitment to tackling this pressing environmental challenge led her to advocate for increased international legislation to enforce the proper handling and tracking of fishing gear.

The 2023 Genius Olympiad, held from Monday 12 to Friday 16 June, brought together exceptional young minds from around the globe to showcase their projects. Giancarlo and Santiné presented their noteworthy innovations to a panel of esteemed judges, resulting in their well-deserved silver medals. Out of the 1,453 projects submitted to the Genius Olympiad from 31 states in the USA and 63 countries worldwide, only 726 finalists were selected to participate. Giancarlo and Santiné’s brilliant projects stood out among the talented pool of finalists, solidifying their place in the top 30% of participants. Their achievements highlight the Northern Cape’s emerging talent in the field of science and innovation.

“Huge congratulations to Giancarlo and Santiné for this great achievement. Not only were they both selected as finalists achieving more than 70% in the preliminary reviews, but they remained in the top 30% of finalists, and top 15% of all submissions to the 2023 Genius Olympiad. Their success is a testament to their ingenuity, dedication, and commitment to making a positive impact on the world. Their achievements shine a bright light on Curro’s emerging scientific talent and serve as an inspiration to other learners,” says Faith Njau, Executive Head at Curro Online.

Living the American Dream

Giancarlo expressed his gratitude towards Imbewu Science Foundation for providing him with the opportunity to represent South Africa in this life-changing experience.

“Although I have already applied to study Mechatronic Engineering at Northwest University in South Africa, I really do appreciate the value of the RIT scholarship and plan to utilise it for futher studies abroad,” he says.

Santiné also expressed her overwhelming joy at the chance to explore New York and witness iconic landmarks such as Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Central Park.

“I made some great friends during my visit to the USA, with fellow participants from Italy, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine. Like my brother, my heart remains set on pursuing my studies in South Africa but will consider the RIT scholarship if I persue futher studies and still want to celebrate my birthday on 4th July with Independence Day celebrations in the USA,” she adds.

The siblings were both awarded gold medals at the Imbewu Science Foundation’s 2022 South African Youth Engineering and Science Symposium (SAYESS) held in Gauteng last year. Their exceptional achievements led to their nomination by Imbewu Science Foundation to participate in the 2023 Genius Olympiad, where they presented their groundbreaking science projects. This year’s Genius Olympiad also marked a significant milestone as it was the first in-person event held since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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