Monday, 22 October 2012

Natural Anomaly winner

Vumile and the Dragon
by Claerwen Howie
Congratulations to Imogen Cupido (10) who wins herself a copy of Vumile and the Dragon by Claerwen Howie, for her research on Dwarf Chameleons. Check out her entry below:

Cape Dwarf Chameleon
By: Imogen Cupido

The Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodionpumilum), are native to Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa. The tongue is almost twice the size of its body, so it can catch insects that are a distance away. To do this, it needs a special muscle in the jaw.

When they are born they are identical mini versions of their parents. Unlike other chameleons that lay eggs, dwarf chameleons give birth to live babies. They are brown when born, and then they become green as they age.

 Cape Dwarfs are 2cm at birth, and when they are adults they can grow to15cm in length! When they are adults, they also have different patterns on their bodies, and some colours are brighter than others.

Cape Dwarf Chameleons are actually the largest of the Dwarf Chameleon species. They are normally very slow moving and they are very hard to see because they are camouflaged. If they get angry, they can speed up to 7 cm a second. If they get even angrier, they will inflate themselves, hiss, change colour dramatically and bite. They don't have sharp teeth, so their bite rarely feels like a slight pinch.

If you live in Cape Town, please be careful when using garden cutters in your garden so that you don't hurt one of these beautiful little creatures! And if you have a pet, be careful where it goes so it doesn't eat one! These animals are endangered.

These are not to be meant as pets, but if you want one you must make sure it is legal in your area.

The scientific name for this animal is: Bradypodion pumilum. Bradypodion means 'slow foot' in Greek, and refers to the 'stop-go' pace of the chameleon.

The tail of the male is slightly longer than the head and body combined. The females' however are slightly shorter.

Their diet consists of small grasshoppers, crickets and many other flying insects. They use
their long sticky tongues for this.

The colour may vary, but they are basically leaf green with an orange stripe on the side of the body and orange markings on the head. The Cape Dwarf Chameleon was first discovered in a shrubs and bushes around a vineyard.

Don't forget to enter the 'Natural Anomaly' in Supernova to win a copy of the impressive 1.5 metres unfolding, pocket pop-up book, Creepy Crawlies! All you have to do is do some research and write up some cool facts about whale sharks.

Send your entries to or post it to Supernova magazine, P.O. Box 6314, Pretoria, 0001.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Supernova issue 7 is super cool!

Supernova issue 7 cover

Supernova recently celebrated its first birthday. Throughout the year we had real fun and learned a lot, so now that Supernova is older and wiser, we are proud to present the latest issue, issue 7. Supernova looks at the melting polar ice caps, the Voortrekkers, art, parasites, parkour and the always exciting and educational 'Nova Red List'.
Not sure what parkour is? Supernova will introduce you to the many different movements to ensure the realisation of becoming a parkour traceur. While parkouring might physically keep you busy, you can challenge yourself mentally by reading the fun and interesting facts and reviews, doing activities and entering competitions.
Supernova presents a brand new section on careers - in this issue it is all about art conservation. The ‘I wanna be’ section aims to open up a world of potential careers for you, introducing you to weird and wonderful job opportunities in a broad variety of interest areas.
Supernova always initiates attention to our environment and this issue is no different. The melting polar caps are the hot topic this time around. Also, find out about symbiosis which is a very interesting way to look at relationships in nature.
The ‘Reduce Reuse Recycle’ section partners up with Coca Cola and keeps our kids curious by giving them ideas and instructions on making bird feeders. So hurry before the ice melts and get your copy of issue 7!
Visit the Supernova website at to subscribe or to locate your nearest retailer.
For more information, contact or call +27 12 342 5347.

Winners of Eskom Expo for Young Scientists announced

As we were very impressed with what we saw at the Northern Gauteng regional finals, we went to check out the national finalists of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 4 to 6 October 2012. What we saw there was just as impressive, if not more so.

Watch this space for a few interviews and pics of some of the bright sparks we chatted to at the expo. For now, we'd like to introduce you to the winners:

This year, the overall winners were Sibongakonke Nxumalo and Snenhlanhla Sibiya from Dlangezwa High School in KwaZulu-Natal. The pair of grade 11s came up with a load shedding meter that regulates the supply of electricity in a household when the national power grid is under pressure. When the electricity supply is under pressure, the control unit (which is housed at Eskom power stations) sends a signal to the meter box to switch off everything using over 100 watts of electricity in the house.  The user will then have to unplug everything consuming large amounts of electricity and their lights will go back on.

Overall winners Sibongakonke Nxumalo and Snenhlanhla Sibiya
with Dr Steve Lennon
Group Executive (Sustainability) and Eskom Expo for Young Scientists champion

Sibongakonke Nxumalo and Snenhlanhla Sibiya were motivated to invent the load shedding meter after electricity cuts would interrupt their night study group at school.
Snenhlanhla states: “We wanted to invent something that would not only help us, but also the country because, as you know, we are facing a huge crisis with our electricity supply. We believe this project will help us learners, our community and Eskom to put an end to power cuts.”
This year 69 gold medals, 156 silver and 202 bronze medals were handed out to the most outstanding projects.
The Eskom Special Awards given out each year include the Best Development Project, Best Energy Project, Best Energy Efficiency Project, Best Female Project, and Best Rural High and Primary School Projects. They all win a laptop and the overall winner wins a trip to an international science fair related to their project and field of interest.
Nxumalo and Sibiya also won the Eskom Best Development Project Award and their school will receive a mobile science kit valued at R34 000.

The Eskom Best Energy Efficiency Project Award went to Matthew Keevy and Sonke Mkhabela from Pretoria Boys High School. The grade 11 learners designed a programme to save the electricity consumed by streetlights and lights on highways, using light and movement sensors. The team calculate that these sensors could cut energy usage by 42%.

Eskom Best Energy Efficiency Project Award winners
Matthew Keevy and Sonke Mkhabela
Sonke states: “We want to take our project further by presenting our idea and the results of our findings to the City Council and prove that grade 11s can make a difference in our country. If I win, it will prove that I am capable of becoming an engineer.”
The Eskom Best Energy Project Award was won by Tave Verhoef from Howick High School in KwaZulu-Natal for her project entitled “Maglev Train”. She looked at how Maglev trains work using the principle of magnetic polarity.

The Eskom Best Female Project Award went to grade 7 learner Iselle van den Heever from Fichardtpark Primary School in Bloemfontein. Her project looked at the how planets orbit the sun.  

Selected prize winners walked away with bursaries from some of the country’s top universities, as well as laptops, cash prizes and books.

The Supernova team would like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Expo - you are all superstar geniuses in our eyes! It gives us goosebumps to see such extraordinary talent and creativity in our school learners. Keep it up guys and girls - the future needs you!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Eskom Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition entries shine brightly

Supernova editor Andrea Vermaak was lucky enough to view the amazing lighting designs by the Gauteng entrants of the Eskom Lighting Design Competition on 2 October 2012. In total, more than 570 energy efficient lighting designs entries were received from both professional and amateur designers, countrywide.

With the introduction of the competition to secondary schools for the first time this year, Eskom has seen an increase in number from all corners of South Africa. One of the youngest entrants was grade 3 learner Thomas Granig of Dunkeld West. He was chosen as a regional finalist in the Special/Scholar category. Granig's design has potential as a single product with multiple options. It is also safe for children as it is only 12V. Congratulations Thomas! The Supernova team is very excited to see a super kid like you doing his bit to save electricity and the planet!

Thomas Granig poses with his lighting design

By highlighting opportunities for energy efficient lamps and technologies in the residential market, the biennial competition has helped stimulate wider-spread acceptance of green light designs and systems, making it an important part of Eskom's ongoing programmes to instil a culture of energy and resource consciousness among South Africans. The goal of the competition “is to demonstrate that efficient lighting technologies, such as discharge, fluorescent and LED technologies, can be used in very contemporary and attractive luminaries and lighting design systems intended for residential lighting”.

Winners, judged at the national finals on Friday 5 October 2012 in Johannesburg, shared the R214 000 prize money on offer and were also honoured with the prestigious Sparks Trophy.

For more information, visit the Eskom Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition's website: