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SAEON Special Awards winners at Eskom Expo for Young Scientists

By Raymond Khoza, DST/NRF Intern
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In October this year, 580 budding scientists from schools across South Africa competed in the finals of the 2016 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists (ISF), which took place at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Gauteng.

The ISF was concluded with a Grand Awards ceremony where 52 gold, 87 silver and 222 bronze medals were awarded.

SAEON contributes to the Expo on an annual basis by judging projects aligned with the SAEON mandate (long-term observations and ecosystem change studies) and presenting special awards to the winners in this group. The SAEON Special Award for Best Project in Environmental Monitoring is intended as encouragement for the learners to pursue their interest in environmental observations. Prizes are selected to assist in this purpose, consisting of a pair of binoculars and a copy of SAEON’s landmark publication, Observing Environmental Change in South Africa, as well as a framed certificate.

The judges for this year’s SAEON Special Awards had their work cut out to select the best projects.

And the winners were…

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The SAEON Special Award in the junior category (Grades 6 to 7) went to Lehlogonolo Msuma (L), a Grade 7 learner from Maseke Primary School in Mopani region for her project, “Impact of rodents on the Marula seedling” (R). Lehlogonolo was not only awarded a bronze medal in the overall Eskom Expo, but was also selected for interviews to attend the International Science Fair (ISF).

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Jana Dreeckmeier, a Grade 9 learner from Hoërskool Waterkloof in the Northern Gauteng region, won the SAEON Special Award in the Grade 8-9 Category for her project titled “Lichens as Bioindicators”. 

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In the senior category (Grades 10 to 12), the SAEON Special Award went to Cornelis Rautenbach, a grade 10 learner from Hoërskool Waterkloof in the Northern Gauteng region for his project, “The 2015-16 El Nino and other droughts in South Africa”. Cornelis also won the gold medal in this category in the overall Eskom Expo.

Sibongile Mokoena, SAEON’s Education Outreach Coordinator (pictured with the learners), was there to congratulate the winners and present the awards. “SAEON is proud to be associated with this prestigious event and it has been infinitely rewarding to see the delighted faces of the young scientists when they receive their awards,” she said.

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