Personal tools
You are here: Home eNewsletter Archives 2017 december2017 Girl learners scoop SAEON Special Awards at Eskom Expo
Research Infrastructures

EFTEON website

SAPRI Proposal

SMCRI website

Research Publications


OUTPUTS 2006-2017

Log in

Forgot your password?

NRF logo



Girl learners scoop SAEON Special Awards at Eskom Expo

By Nozi Hambaze, SAEON Elwandle Node & Sibongile Mokoena, former SAEON Education Outreach Coordinator
mail.jpg facebook.jpg

Nozi Hambaze, science engagement officer at the SAEON Elwandle Node (left) with Itumeleng Malesa, recipient of the SAEON Special Award in the senior category


Martha Djan receives a SAEON Special Award from Nozi Hambaze for her multi-award-winning project in which she investigated a sustainable method to stabilise and rehabilitate mine soil


Shreyah Ramluckan, winner of the SAEON Special Award in the junior category, receives her award

SAEON has been part of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists for several years. The SAEON Special Awards serve as encouragement for learners to pursue their interest in environmental observations.

The winners of the SAEON awards each receive a quality pair of binoculars, a book on the environment and a framed certificate.

This year the awards ceremony of the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) was held at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Gauteng. SAEON’s 2017 adjudicating team consisted of research administrator Beate Hölscher and a retired expert judge, Sibongile Mokoena. SAEON specifically looks for projects that demonstrate long-term monitoring with a great depth of scientific understanding and skills.

“It was not an easy task to select the winners,” said Sibongile, “and some of the projects needed to be judged twice before we could reach agreement.” But after lengthy deliberations, the judges were ready to announce this year’s winners.

And the winners were…

The SAEON Special Award in the junior category went to Shreyah Kairava Ramluckan, a grade 7 learner at Woodview Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal. In her project, Improving ESD at school through the use of citizen science, she surveyed learners involved in the miniSASS programme . Shreyah also received a bronze award for her project in the national Eskom Expo.

Itumeleng Maduka Matapa Malesa, a grade 10 learner from Kingfisher Combined Private School in Mopani district, was the recipient of the SAEON Special Award in the senior category. Titled Focus: A technological tool for conservation of birds and insects, her project looked at biodiversity awareness through the use of technology, with specific reference to insects and birds. She acknowledged the assistance of SAEON’s Ndlovu Node. Her project also earned her a bronze medal in the overall Eskom Expo.

Martha Djan, a grade 11 learner at Dr Kaunda High School, also won a SAEON Special Award in the senior category for her project Indigenous rehabilitation of mine soil in Krugersdorp. The project highlights her concern about the environmental impact of mine dumps in the Krugersdorp area. Mine dumps are not only unattractive, but the dust from the dumps causes air pollution.

Martha investigated a sustainable method to stabilise and rehabilitate the mine soil. The soil is generally not suitable for plants because of high levels of potassium, lead and iron. In her literature study she found scientific evidence that sunflowers have been used to rehabilitate mine soil, but she also established that the sunflower is not indigenous to South Africa.

She challenged herself to find an indigenous plant with properties similar or related to the sunflower. An indigenous plant in the daisy family seemed to meet the requirements. She tested the soil content for iron, lead and potassium before planting the daisy. She ran regular tests for six months - the daisy was growing well and there was evident reduction of iron, lead and potassium in the mine soil. She concluded that the daisy can be used to rehabilitate the mine soil.

Her immediate plan is to run the experiment in a bigger plot and she is hoping to share her idea with the local municipality in Krugersdorp. Martha's project not only earned her a SAEON Special Award, it also earned five more awards from different organisations impressed with her project, including a gold medal from Eskom. Martha was moreover nominated as a potential candidate to present her project at the International Science Fair being held in Beijing or Taiwan next year.

SAEON’s involvement in the Eskom Expo consists of much more than merely presenting special awards at the ISF. SAEON staff members participate in the Eskom Expo at regional and at ISF level. Thomas Mtontsi, the science engagement officer at the Egagasini Node, is a judge both regionally and at the ISF. Omphile Khutsoane of the Arid Lands Node is a judge in the environmental management category at regional as well as at ISF level.

The Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, a science fair where learners have a chance to showcase their own scientific investigations, turned 37 this year. The annual event is aimed at inspiring and developing young scientists who are able to identify a problem, analyse information, find solutions and communicate their findings effectively.

The Eskom Expo has expanded its growth internationally and attracts learners from as far afield as Ghana, Nigeria and Brazil. 

Document Actions