SA students triumph at Taiwan International Science Fair PDF Print E-mail

Two South African high school students recently returned home bearing trophies after participating in the 2012 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF).

The TSIF, which took place from February 5 to 12 at the National Taiwan Science Education Center (NTSEC) in Taipei, featured science projects from more than 200 participants from 17 different countries. Students could enter projects in a variety of categories including mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy, chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, animal sciences, plant sciences, medicine and health, engineering, and computer science.

Among the budding scientists from around the world were South African learners Inge Koper, a grade 12 student, and grade ten student Samantha Hayward. The pair went on to compete in Taipei after achieving success locally at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists (EEYS), with Koper’s project earning her a first place in the health care category, a gold medal and a scholarship to study medicine, science, or engineering at any South African university.
In Taiwan, Koper was awarded a second place in the medicine and health category for her project, which studied the psychological impact of using clay instead of drawing in children’s therapy. Her conclusion was that kids are better able to express their feelings to psychologists when using clay as a medium, since it is three dimensional and doesn’t require the same fine motor skills as drawing does.
Hayward, who also competed in the medicine and health category, earned third place for her project about body mass index (BMI) and her findings about how it discriminates against certain women because of their body types.
“The experience of the Taiwan International Science Fair on the whole was absolutely amazing and completely unique,” Hayward says. “I enjoyed every aspect of the trip. I feel honoured to have been chosen to be a participant and even more so, to have won a trophy for my country. Meeting students from all over the world and interacting with them on a social and intellectual level made me realise the great level of potential within our generation. I made many good friends and am keeping in contact with them.”
The girls impressed the organisers of the TISF too. Roberto Hidalgo, president of the International Movement or Leisure Activities in Science and Technology (MILSET), says: “ Congratulations to the South African delegation at the TISF. It is not surprising that the South African projects are of a very high quality and very competitive at the international level. My best wishes to all my South African friends!”
The EEYS organisers also expressed pride at the achievements of the South Africans. “We are very pleased that our South African students did so well at the TISF,” says Parthy Chetty, chairperson of EEYS. “They are excellent ambassadors for their country, both in terms of their projects and the way in which they conduct themselves. Congratulations to them both!”
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