Young Scientists
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Six South African scientists have made us so proud thanks to their victories at international science fairs!


Global (03 April 2024) — Six South African young scientists who presented their innovative research projects at international science fairs in Tunisia and Beijing have returned home triumphant, each securing medals in their respective categories!

Keerthana Kishor Nair (Grade 12 at Bryanston High School) and Alexia Hilton Smedmor (Grade 10 at Parktown High School for Girls), competed at the International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology in Tunisia (I-FEST2) from 22 to 28 March 2024 after award-winning performances in 2023.

Keerthana successfully placed in the top 10 of the best performers, achieving a gold medal, while Alexia achieved silver.

“I did not expect it at all,” Keerthana shared.

“This was an experience unlike any other. I met so many new people from across the globe and learned so much more about their culture and lifestyle. This is knowledge and a feeling I would have never gotten anywhere else. My highlight in Tunisia was definitely the Colosseum – Amphitheatre of El Jem. To be in the presence of so much history, authenticity, and something so massive – it really showed me the beauty of travel and nature. I was humbled in the moment with the breathtaking masterpiece of this ancient architecture. Truly ineffable.” 

Further east, Nyakallo Nonjabulo Mbongo (Grade 11 at Welkom-Gimnasium); Kiyara Tami Swartbooi (Grade 12 at Port Rex Technical High School in East London); along with Steffan Thielen and Rohan van Loggerenberg (Grade 12 from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch) competed at the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition (BYSCC) in China from 28 March to 1 April.

There, Steffan and Rohan were awarded gold medals, while Nyakallo and Kiyara were awarded silver wins. Nyakallo was also awarded the second prize for the Yanqi Innovation Competition, and received a cash prize of RMB2,000 (approximately R5,200 at the time)!

Nyakallo reflects:

“I am deeply honoured and grateful for the awards I have received. Simply being chosen by Eskom Expo to represent my country was a significant achievement for me, but to receive an award further added to my joy. Witnessing the scale and competitiveness of the BYSCC was truly eye-opening, especially seeing the remarkable projects presented by other participants. This experience reinforced the belief that hard work indeed yields results, and emphasised the importance of pursuing our passions wholeheartedly.”

Upcoming international tours include the Indonesia International Science, Technology and Engineering Competition (ISTEC) in Bali, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA, and the Buca International Music, Science, Engineering Energy Fair (IMSEF) in Türkiye. Announcements regarding participants have yet to be revealed.

Sources: JeVanne Gibbs 
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Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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