- Two South African learners have earned the opportunity to exhibit their scientific proficiency at the 2024 Taiwan International Science Fair following their outstanding performance at the 2023 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF), where they presented impressive research projects.
Lethabo Molobi, a Grade 12 learner at Zinniaville Secondary School in the North West’s Bojanala region, and Johannes Jacobus (Jaco) Deysel, a Grade 11 learner at Hoërskool Jim Fouché in the Free State’s Bloemfontein region will participate at the Taiwan fair which takes place from 27 January to 2 February 2024 at the National Taiwan Science Education Center in Taipei. South Africa actively engages in this fair each year, providing learners with a platform to showcase their research to counterparts from various countries. This participation fosters cross-cultural communication and facilitates educational exchange among young scientists.
Molobi, a Silver medal recipient at last year’s Eskom Expo ISF, will showcase her research project entitled, “From Human Intelligence to Artificial Intelligence Chatbots: Modern Day Writing”, which takes a look at whether it is easy to differentiate between Artificial intelligence (AI)-generated text and human-generated text, in a school setting. With A.I. being a popular topic and a possible emerging problem in education, especially in developing countries, Molobi’s research project delves into whether A.I. poses a threat to academic integrity and if society needs to transition towards a more adaptive educational environment.
Deysel, a Gold medal recipient at last year’s Eskom Expo ISF, will present his research project entitled “Breaking a Caesar Cipher/Vigenère Cipher Encryption for secure data communication”. This project aims to identify vulnerabilities in ciphers and explore the factors influencing the strength of an encryption system by breaking both Caesar and Vigenère Ciphers. In the past decade, technological advancements have been accompanied by prominent data breaches, underscoring the critical issue of data security. The research reveals that cipher text generated using Caesar and Vigenère algorithms can be easily compromised through brute force methods.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Eskom Development Foundation (Acting), Ms Mologadi Motshele, said: “Eskom is dedicated to investing in the growth of young scientists and engineers, supporting their development to discover sustainable solutions for our country’s progress. Eskom Expo is a key player in cultivating responsive minds that take decisive action against current and future challenges. We are very proud of our two learners, whose innovative research attempts to solve contemporary problems. I have no doubt that our two participating learners – like their predecessors who competed on the global stage – will continue to inspire the youth of our country as shining examples of what is possible within the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI) space. We wish them all the best as they head to Taiwan to compete against their peers”.
Eskom Expo Executive Director, Parthy Chetty, said: “We are excited to start the year on a positive note with these two learners representing South Africa on the international stage. The learners will showcase their projects to judges and will also participate in a series of cultural activities and social events. The projects to be presented have been done over a long period of time after hard work and dedication, and therefore these learners deserve this accolade to represent their country and travel to Asia for the first time in their lives”.
A total of 630 young scientists from 27 countries worldwide are set to participate in this year’s Taiwan International Science Fair. South Africa is a consistent participant in this fair through the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, providing local learners with the chance to showcase their research on an international level. This participation fosters cross-cultural communication and facilitates educational exchange on an international platform.”
Registration to take part in the Eskom Expo 2024 is open. Learners in grades 4 to 12, along with NC2 to NC4 learners from TVET colleges can register their projects by visiting www.exposcience.co.za
Author: Bryan Groenendaal