HomeNewsSouth Africa earns place at International Youth Science Seminar

South Africa earns place at International Youth Science Seminar

South Africa has been selected to attend the prestigious Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) in Sweden from 4-11 December 2017 – the only country in Africa to attend.

Fransie Streicher, a grade 12 learner from Curro Hermanus in the Western Cape, will be representing South Africa.

Streicher  was selected as the winner of this sought-after prize from among 600 of South Africa’s future engineers, chemists, physicists, mathematicians and innovators who were competing at the Eskom Expo, the country’s largest school-level science fair, Eskom said in a statement. Read more…

Eskom explained in a statement: “These young scientists are all competing for a chance to take home prizes worth more than R4 million.

“But this prize is one that stands out, offering Streicher an opportunity to mingle with noble laureates during Nobel Week while attending the SIYSS as well as a full tuition bursary to study at the University of Pretoria next year.

“In fact, his project was so impressive he also won bursaries to study at the University of Stellenbosch and the University of the Witwatersrand.”

Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive: Transmission / Acting Group Executive: Risk and Sustainability, said: “We are very proud that Streicher will be representing South Africa in Sweden.

“The Eskom Expo has always sought to foster an interest in the sciences and through strategic support enable promising young scientists to pursue their interest at a tertiary level to create a pipeline of young talent to serve across a range of industries.”

The Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar

The Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar is an annual event in which 25 of the world’s foremost young scientists participate in a unique science and cultural program at the same time as Nobel Week from 6 – 12 December.

Participants between the ages of 18-25 have been selected at international science fairs and universities around the world thanks to their extraordinary research efforts, the parastatal explained.

“While in Stockholm these young scientists take part in an eventful schedule that includes meeting Nobel Prize Laureates, attending the Nobel Banquet and visiting noteworthy Swedish science and tech companies as well as locations of cultural importance. They also present their research to a large audience of Swedish high school and university students who attend the SIYSS,” the power utility said.

“Streicher’s research really blew us away and the judges were unanimous that he should be rewarded for his impressive work on microbial fuel cell by attending what is considered one of the world’s most prestigious science seminars.

“The Eskom Expo is all about encouraging and motivating young people to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And what better way to motivate a young person than the chance to meet Nobel laureates at the cutting-edge of scientific research,” says Pieter Pretorius, Chairman of the Eskom Expo Board of Directors.

Microbial fuel cell

With an interest in sustainable eco-friendly technology, Streicher’s concept of microbial fuel cells is not a new one, however a more efficient one.

He tested several different design parameters to determine which improved the output of his fuel cell, Eskom explained.

Adding that these parameters were the anode size, the cathode size and the presence of a membrane.

Of these three, Streicher found that the anode size was the most important design parameter that affected the output of the cell.

The methodology that Fransie followed fully complies with the scientific method by varying one parameter at a time. The project was also well researched with a good number of references, especially considering the complexity of this field of research.

“Fransie has all the characteristics of an outstanding scientist. Fransie really impressed the judges with his knowledge of this difficult field. He also showed innovation when obtaining the microbial agent and he exhibited a lot of passion for his project – an essential characteristic in good scientists. Another positive attribute of Fransie is his willingness to change his views when presented with contrary evidence,” says Parthy Chetty, Executive Director of the Eskom Expo.

This approach has been incredibly successful with the Eskom Expo producing many of SA’s top scientists including Mark Shuttleworth and Siyabulela Xuza South Africa’s very own rocket scientist.


Featured image: Eskom

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.