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SA learners win awards at Intel science fair

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Eleven South African learners won five awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.

The top winners for the world’s largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), have been announced in Los Angeles. Eleven South African high-school students from all over the country represented their country at the event, which is an increase over last year’s nine contenders.

These learners managed to fly the South African flag high by scooping five awards (3 grand and 2 special awards), indicating the high calibre of work submitted by the South African representatives. In addition, these achievements show that when given the opportunity, our learners are able to compete against and even beat the best in the world.

Masters of Science make Mzanzi proud

Awards winners were selected according to the students’ abilities to tackle challenging scientific questions by making use of authentic research practices to come up with solutions that help tackle some of the problems facing their communities.

The Grand Awards Ceremony awards are the top overall awards for Intel ISEF 2014 and the recipients are winners from each category. Sophia Demetriou (18) from Selly Park Secondary Convent in Rustenburg received a Fourth Award of $500 in the Computer Science category for her project entitled: A novel approach to biometric identification using an iris scanner.

Lungelo Don Clerence Sigudla (16) from Newcastle High School also received a Fourth Award of $500 in the Energy and Transportation category for the project entitled: Utilising pine cone briquettes as an alternative energy source.

Toni-Ann Black (16) from Roedean School SA in Johannesburg received a Third Award of $1,000 in the Microbiology category for her project entitled: Utilizing UV-rays to Eradicate Micro-Organisms on Healthcare Workers Cellular Phones to Prevent Cross-Infection.

Besides the Grand Awards, certain Special Awards were also awarded to worthy contestants by various organisations, academic institutions, as well as government agencies. Neil Fair (17) from Pretoria Boys High School received a First Place Award of $5,000 from the United Airlines Foundation for his project dubbed: The Intelligent Energy Saving Power Strip.

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists also awarded a Distinguished Achievement Award of $2,500 plus a trip to the SEG International Exposition and Annual Meeting to Boyd Robert Kane (16) from Bishops (Diocesan College) in Cape Town for his project called: Using an underwater trench to limit the energy of a tsunami.

Innovation is the key to a brighter future

“The world needs more scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs who will create jobs, drive economic growth and solve pressing global challenges,” said Thabani Khupe, Corporate Affairs Director at Intel South Africa. “Intel believes that young people are the key to innovation, and we hope that these winners inspire more students to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math, which all serves as fuel for the fire of creativity that breeds innovation.

ISEF is a program of Society for Science & the Public, which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education. The organisation has owned and administered the competition since its inception in 1950 as the National Science Fair.

This year’s Intel ISEF featured more than 1,700 young scientists that were selected from 435 affiliate fairs hosted in more than 70 countries, regions as well as territories from around the globe.

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