May 2015
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Learners to link up with astronaut
Shared Sky, shared wisdom
"Talking science" competition
A meeting of minds
Young scientists take on Australia
Learners unveil project in Beijing
Introduction to crystals
Young Science Communicators' Competition
SAASTA inspires class of 2015
Meet Prof. Nox Makunga
Top young achiever's journey
Wonders of water at Scifest Africa
Learners work with particle physicists
Meet SAEON's new education officer
Light comes out of the darkness
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

Science travels from Ladysmith to Beijing

A team of two South African girl learners unveiled their award-winning research project at the 35th Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition (BYSCC) on March 29.

Yenziwe Mbuyisa and Nokwanda Mbonane, learners from Ladysmith High School, shared with the audience their research to determine which fertiliser is best for plant growth and soil health. They argued that the use of chemical fertilisers is detrimental to plants and that the use of natural fertilisers is far more beneficial for vegetative production. They moreover proved that chemical fertilisers change the structure and smell of soil.

From the left: Dr Jabu Nukeri, Managing Director of SAASTA, Yenziwe Mbuyisa, Nokwanda Mbonane and James Tlhabane, SAASTA Project Coordinator
Yenziwe and Nokwanda explain their research results to interested onlookers

"Spinach planted in the chemically fertilised soil sample will grow taller and faster than plants growing in the natural fertiliser and the control. The soil sample with chemical fertiliser will feel more brittle and will also have a lighter colour and a very faint smell, whereas the soil in the naturally fertilised soil samples will have a moist texture and a more earthy scent," the learners explained.

Research for innovation

In addition to Yenziwe and Nokwanda's research project, several other scientific studies were presented at the competition. One learner presented a robot he invented that can purify the air for breathing, while two other learners demonstrated a window they designed to keep outdoor smog from contaminating the air indoors.

Although our learners didn't win the coveted gold medal, they have done us proud by shining bright in the otherwise male-dominated invention competition in which over one million learners participated. Only 300 contestants were selected to compete in the Beijing finals.

"Our two bright young minds had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their research for tackling social issues and environmental pollution at the biggest and most sophisticated scientific and technological innovation competition in the world," said James Tlhabane, project coordinator at SAASTA, who accompanied the learners.

The main sponsors – SAASTA in collaboration with the Beijing Association of Science and Technology (BAST) – are optimistic that this educational trip has not only inspired the learners participating in the competition, but has also built bridges to a broader international science and technology platform.

By Daphney Molewa, SAASTA