Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Expo winner now a London International Youth Science Forum counselor

2011 Eskom Expo for Young Scientists overall winner, Palesa Masuku, has been appointed a counsellor at the prestigious London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF).

Palesa Masuku

In addition to being the joint winner of the Eskom Best Female Project, as part of her prize Masuku also received the opportunity to travel to the Science Forum in September 2012, which is attended annually by some of the world’s best young achievers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation.

Her school, JM Ntsime High School, situated in a rural area near Rustenberg, also won the Eskom Best Rural High School award and received a mobile science kit valued at over R25 000 in 2011.

The LIYSF is a unique event and opportunity for top young science students aged 17 to 21 years old from around the world. Since 1959, LIYSF has welcomed young scientists to come together to learn, exchange views and opinions, and share knowledge.

Students also get the chance to visit some of the world’s leading university departments and industrial sites. A key aspect of the programme is the plenary and specialist lectures hosted by some of the world’s most renowned scientists who speak on a broad range of pertinent and inspiring topics.

Masuku, who wowed the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists judges last year with her idea of using marula fruit as an alternative energy source, says she is “over the moon” and will be grabbing the opportunity with both hands.

Right now I feel very proud, honoured and privileged to be part of something so great. I can’t wait to play an even greater part in other scientists’ lives and to help and guide them to discover their talents and exciting career paths in science,” says Masuku.

Masuku, who had never been overseas before, says London is not too different from South Africa, but the experience was great and the opportunity to learn and share ideas with young scientists from all over the world, even better.

Palesa Masuku

Her role as a LIYS counsellor in 2013 will involve helping to take care of and guide other young scientists both at Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair and the London International Science Fair.

Dr Steve Lennon, Eskom Group Executive on Sustainability, says Eskom is delighted and proud to be playing a part in grooming Masuku.

Palesa is an excellent ambassador as she is a young person who has demonstrated a consciousness of the challenges faced by the people in her community, as well as the motivation to find creative solutions to those problems. She is also committed to helping other bright science minds such as herself and we are thrilled with her accomplishments and the maturity she has displayed since we first met her.”

Competition: win a copy of Supernova!

What are you doing to save energy? If you are 18 and under, let us know by leaving a comment below this post, or by emailing can win a copy of Supernova magazine!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Saving energy in our communities

Members of the Seven Schools Club
The Supernova team would like to make mention of two finalists in the Community category at the Eskom eta Awards 2012, especially because both projects involve children and 'greening' our planet - both of which are close to our hearts.

A joint winner in the Community category is Seven Schools Club from Nelspruit. This group of seven schools includes: Sakhile High School, Inkhanyeti Primary School, Khutsalani High School, Phatfwa High School, Sandzile Primary School, Embonisweni Primary School and Tsembaletfu Primary School. These schools joined forces to establish a recycling campaign. They have raised R5380 by recycling 16 244 kgs of waste, while 53 473.92 kilowatt hours of energy have been saved. How are you going to get your school involved in recycling?

Seven Schools Club

Seven Schools Club recycling station

The finalist we would like to mention is Bush Pigs Outdoor Education Centre. Supernova Editor Andrea Vermaak remembers going to Bush Pigs as a school learner and is proud that the centre does not only teach children more about the environment, but that they are looking after it too. 

Claire Warner (Wessa) and
Bush Pigs managers Steve and Kerry Baytop
During 2009, Bush Pigs was adopted by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) and joined the Wessa Eco-Schools' programme in 2010. After conducting an energy and waste audit of their own environmental practises, they started implementing sustainable technologies to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint, including geyser blankets, solar phone chargers, hot boxes and heat retention cookers, and fuel a efficient stove.

Bush Pigs recycling station
Bush Pigs compost heap

Bush Pigs greenhouse

Bush Pigs geyser blankets

Congratulations to both finalists and many thanks from the Supernova team for your massive efforts to teach our children to reduce their energy use. Supernova magazine backs you up all the way and we wish you all the best with your future energy saving endeavours.

Competition: win a copy of Supernova!

What are you doing to save energy? If you are 18 and under, let us know by leaving a comment below this post, or by emailing can win a copy of Supernova magazine!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Supernova team impressed with Young Designers at Eskom eta Awards

Publisher/Director Benoit Knox and Supernova Editor Andrea Vermaak were privileged to attend the Eskom eta Awards ceremony on 15 November. Among the winners of the prestigious annual awards were young designers who showed off their innovative ideas and initiative to save energy.

Daniel von Eschwege
All entrants in the Young Designers' 
category were very impressive, giving the Supernova team a new hope in the future of South Africa. The winner in the Young Designers – Individual category is Daniel von Eschwege (12), who designed a cost-effective solar water geyser system that can reduce a household energy bill by 40%. He hopes to produce these DIY packs and help poorer communities access hot water at an affordable price.

Daniel von Eschwege's solar water geyser

The runners-up in the above mentioned category are Daniella Oosthuizen and Keegan Cordeiro. Daniella designed a compost hot water system, while Keegan designed solar powered golf carts.

Girls Looking Forward

The Young Designers – Group category award went to the team of grade 8 girls, called 'Girls Looking Forward', from Bay College in Plettenberg Bay. The girls looked at how to reduce electricity consumption during cooking. By comparing cooking using a microwave, a stove-top and a clay oven, they found that using a clay oven is the most energy efficient method.

Girls Looking Forward

The runners-up are the Pretoria Boys High School team and the Cornwall College team. Ray Kruger, from Pretoria Boys High School, invented a way to generate electricity on a small scale directly from waste biomass through the process of gasification. Gregory van Wijk and Tyron Munn from Cornwall Hill College built a household electricity management system, the Angel Management System, designed to optimise use of the available electricity.

Ray Kruger
Ray Kruger's electricity generator

Gregory van Wijk and Tyron Munn 

The Angel Management System

We simply can't leave out the young designers of Bracken Hill EK Primary School from Knysna, who also blew us away with their initiative. To reduce their community's wood consumption, they developed a solar water heater for their school, using black pipe, as well as created a hotbox to cook and a clay oven that functions with just a handful of twigs and coal. The team also learnt how to make coals out of recycled paper.

Bracken Hill EK Primary School's solar water heater

Bracken Hill EK Primary School's clay oven

The Eskom eta Awards have been acknowledging and rewarding good work in energy efficiency since 1985, with winners receiving R30 000 each and the runners-up taking home R5000.

Dr Steve Lennon, Eskom Group Executive of Sustainability says: “South Africa is bursting with talent and nowhere is this more evident than at the annual Eskom eta Awards. More South Africans are looking for ways to save energy. Learners want to make a difference, householders are cutting costs, and engineers and large companies are working hard to reduce their use of electricity and save vital resources.” 

We can't agree more with Dr Lennon and want to congratulate all those who took part in saving energy this year!

Competition: win a copy of Supernova!

What are you doing to save energy? If you are 18 and under, let us know by leaving a comment below this post, or by emailing can win a copy of Supernova magazine!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Eskom Expo for Young Scientists - more photos

As promised, here are a few more photos of the amazing kids who took part in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists...

Project: Albedo and groentetuintjies

Learners: Anneke Schoeman (Grd 12) and Renate Schoeman (Grd 10)

School: Overkruin Hoërskool

Project: Renoster

Learner: Willem Steinburg (Grd 11)

School: Hoërskool Nelspruit

Project: Pocket Charger

Learner: Tamian Gobind (Grd 9)

School: Zinniaville Secondary School


Project: Sand and Sun

Learner: Piet Kotze

School: Eunice High School

Project: Fuel cycle of the future

Learners: Candra Naidoo (Grd 9) and
Yokesh Kanaya (Grd 9)

School: Hoërskool Generaal Hertzog

Project: Help Recycle

Learner: Karla Muller (Grd 7)

School: Lorraine Primary School


Project: Culture

Learner: Cynthia Marota (Grd 7)

School: Sele Secondary School

Project: Soos Musiek in my Ore

Learner: Jantjie Harmse (Grd 6)

School: Kruinpark Laerskool

 Congratulations to all the learners who took part! 
We at Supernova are super impressed!

*Photos by Jennilee Delport.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Fireworks and Guy Fawkes

By Carina Vermooten

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should be forgot.”

Since it is a national British holiday that everyone celebrates (or just use as an excuse to ooh and aah at beautiful fireworks), here is a short history behind the holiday and an explanation on how fireworks work.

On the fourth of November 1605, Guy Fawkes, who was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics, was caught in the basement of the British Parliament, trying to blow it up with gunpowder. Although the main goal of his group’s grand plan was to blow up Parliament, they also wanted to kill King James I simply because before he came into power, he promised to stop executing innocent Catholics like his predecessor Queen Elizabeth. Ever since then the British celebrated his failure on the fifth of November.

Fireworks 101
The Chinese invented fireworks as part of a ritual to ensure that evil spirits are kept away. As you watch a breath-taking fireworks display, three things are happening that you are not necessarily aware of: the fireworks have actually been designed so that they won’t explode, you’re witnessing how nature conserves energy, and while the fireworks are at their brightest, they are actually starting to cool down.

Fireworks are made out of two basic ingredients: black powder, which is a fuel source, and an oxidiser. The fuel source provides heat and the oxidiser speeds up the reaction. The slower the reaction between the two, the more beautiful the display.

The blend of ingredients has to be just right. The chemists use small, medium and large microns. To slow down burning, chemists use chemicals (microns) that are bigger in size and don’t mix them very well with the smaller microns because it makes the fireworks last longer and makes them brighter. What gives the colours to a fireworks display are the different metals used in the mix. Strontium creates red sparks, copper makes blue sparks, barium makes green sparks and sodium makes yellow sparks. You can also mix the chemicals and different colours will be given. Shapes in fireworks are made depending on how the creator arranged the chemical pellets in the containers.

Please be safe and careful tonight if you are planning on lighting some firecrackers and be considerate of neighbours and pets.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!