Boarding the Bus to Johannesburg!
“And the Best Environmental Project on Water goes to…”
“For the Most Innovative Medical Research Project, Congratulations to…”
“The prize for Best Develoment Project is awarded to…”
We are listening with eager excitement as the prizes are being announced at the 2018 Regional Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. It is August 15, and the regional competition that we were feverishly preparing for at the time of our last GlobalGiving report is coming to a close. More than 500 young people have come from schools all over the central part of KwaZulu-Natal to compete in this two-day event. In all, our team of twelve Umkhumbane Schools Project learners brings home one Gold medal, five Silver medals, three Bronze medals, three Highly Commended certificates, two Best-in-Category prizes, and seven additional special prizes. This has been an amazing day, one that all of us will long remember.
Fast forward to October 2nd. It is 6:00 AM, and the sun has just risen over the Cato Manor township and informal settlement area of Durban. Remember Pamela and Lusanda, the two learners we highlighted in our last report? Both of these scholars, along with another of our learners -- Nomvuselelo -- are boarding a bus bound for Johannesburg. These three have been selected to go on to this year’s Eskom Expo International Science Fair, based on the quality of their entries in the Regional Competition. For the last several weeks, they have been hard at work to upgrade and expand their projects. Pamela has done more testing on the ability of vetiver grass to absorb contaminants from water. Lusanda has done another round of testing for toxic chemicals in cosmetic products. And Nomvuselelo has expanded her study of the causes of lateness to school among high school learners in Cato Manor.
And now here we are on the 6th of October, greeting our returning travelers, who have brought home two Silver medals (Pamela and Nomvuselelo) and a Highly Commended certificate (Lusanda) from the International Science Fair. Exhausted but happy, they pile off of the bus from Joburg, full of smiles, stories, and heartfelt hugs and goodbyes for the other members of the KZN Central delegation to the ISF.
It is no overstatement to say that our Expo mentoring program is made possible through the generosity of our GlobalGiving donors. The funds you send are spent on developing teaching curriculum to assist learners with little prior exposure to scientific thinking or learning. They are spent on project materials, transportation to and from university labs and research sites, and food for the learners at all of our project workshops. Your gifts have also bought notebooks, paper, pens, two laptops, internet time, and printing. In addition, you have enabled us to provide food and transport costs for our dedicated team of university students who have spent countless hours assisting our young scientists in visualising a goal and applying the full measure of their capabilities to reach it.
It is nearly impossible to put into words the impact the experiences of these last several months of preparation and participation in the Expo have had -- and will continue to have -- on our learners. The true rewards from all of your support and all of their hard work have little to do with how many medals they bring home. It is about self-discovery and newfound confidence, new friendships and habits of excellence. Perhaps most importantly, it is about being a part of something big, something important, and knowing that you are good enough to be there.
In the words of one of our 2018 young scientists, “Expo gave me the opportunity to see myself as a winner and a medalist. I have never got an opportunity this big and amazing.”
On behalf of all of us at The Umkhumbane Schools Project, thank you so very much for making this work possible!
Working on Projects
Time Out for Food!
At the Regional Expo