Eskom expo opens doors says ‘celeb nerd’

2011-05-20 00:00

“I’M Google-able!”

That is one of the logs on the Facebook wall of KwaZulu-Natal pupil Danielle Boer (17), who has become an instant celebrity after striking gold at an international competition.

Danielle, a matriculant at St Dominic’s Academy in Newcastle, won a scholarship worth more than R420 000. This has afforded her the opportunity to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where she hopes to study industrial psychology.

Not only has this self-proclaimed “nerdy celeb” been interviewed on 5Fm radio, most newspapers in South Africa have covered her story as well as being featured in the Times of India, which is not at all bad considering that her winning project started out as a class project.

“I was surprised to even make it to the nationals,” Danielle told The Witness.

“Being selected for internationals blew me away completely. It was such an honour to represent my country.

“That for me was the greatest achievement possible. Winning was something I never dreamt of, but it was an amazing finishing touch to an incredible week.”

Danielle was one of nine pupils who competed in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Los Angeles last week. She won a special award in the sociology sub-category for her project that investigated how playing music could lead to increased productivity in factories.

Another South African pupil, Alessio Giuricich (16) from Cape Town, received R7 000 for winning the special award in the Behavioural Science sub-category with a project that studied sugar dependence among adolescents. He also received R10 500 for his second place win in the Intel Grand Awards.

Danielle said her project was inspired by the many factories in Newcastle. She wanted to help these factories to be more productive and to improve the working environment of employees.

“I found that playing music, especially rock, while employees work increased productivity of factories, but also it improves the mood of employees because their working environments are improved.”

The South African “Eskom Expo for Young Scientists is a great opportunity for students to showcase their ideas and it opens many doors, I would highly recommend that students enter the expo, its a lot of fun,” she said.

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