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Graphene sets the scene for Grade 10 learners

- Refilwe Mabula

Class of 2015 Grade 10 learners receive prizes for material science posters.

The DST-NRF Centre for Excellence in Strong Materials held its annual prize-giving ceremony on 26 January 2016 at the Wits Club, Braamfontein for the class of 2015 Grade 10 learners.

Every year the Centre of Excellence invites Grade 10 learners from Gauteng schools to participate in the Materials Science Poster Competition based on strong materials. The competition, which is in its ninth year running, is an outreach programme of the Centre of Excellence formulated to attract more learners to the field of material sciences, develop their knowledge of properties and learn about the applications of strong materials.

There were 88 entrants in the 2015 competition. The entrants were required to produce an A3 poster on the properties and applications of a strong material. Strong materials are materials that retain their distinctive and applied properties under extreme conditions and have established or potential commercial applications. The scholars explored with materials such as graphene, gold, titanium, aerogel amongst others.

Professor Lesley Cornish, the Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials who welcomed the scholars, assured them of their importance for the institution. 

“Our future is you, and you are tremendously important to us. Our students are also important to us but the scholars are the future pipelines. Where are our future students going to come from? They are going to come from the schools. It would be lovely to get some of the scholars to come and register in one of our courses.”

Learners, teachers and Wits staff at the prize giving ceremony.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Affairs, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, who also attended the event, hailed the scholars for their exceptional posters.

“You clearly have showed interest by applying yourself. You have worked very hard in understanding material sciences. I think you have done remarkably well. You have outdone yourselves. It shows that you have an inclination for this journey-the journey of doing research. It is going to be a giant leap for humanity if you continue with this research.”

The first prize, worth R15 000 for the school was awarded to The Kings School West Rand for their poster, Tungstene 101. The second prize, worth R10 000 went to 2014 winners, King's School RobinHill. The 2015 competition was tight a one, seeing Parktown Girls High and Randpark High School sharing the third prize which was worth R5 000.

Teachers and scholars from the winning teams also received gift vouchers at the ceremony.Vivienne Jansen Van Rensburg, Science teacher from the winning school, said she hopes the prize money would be used towards the science club which she started last year.

For twins Dehyenee and Deeyendrie Govender from Parktown High School for Girls, their extra mural activities in dramatic arts helped them to be creative when they were designing the poster. Their poster Graphene is the New Queen was one four posters which won under the category: Good Scientific Comprehension.

Dehyenee said her interest in science and technology was influenced by her Grade 10 science teacher, who “teachers with her heart and soul”.