Scientist’s innovation lauded

2019-10-09 06:02
Abigail Bloem of the Eunice High School won the top junior prize for her innovative project, Bright Solution, at this year’s Eskom Expo International Science Fair.Photo: Supplied

Abigail Bloem of the Eunice High School won the top junior prize for her innovative project, Bright Solution, at this year’s Eskom Expo International Science Fair.Photo: Supplied

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An innovative technological device designed to optimise traffic lights could solve motorists’ struggle with dysfunctional traffic lights.

An invention by Abigail Bloem, a learner of the Eunice High School in Bloemfontein, won a big prize at this year’s Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) held at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg from 24 to 27 September.

Her project, Bright Solution, uses a renewable energy system, sun and wind power and a back-up battery to ensure that traffic lights stay fully functional in the event of a power failure.

According to the project abstract, both the computer code written to operate the communication system and the engineering elements of the fault-detection system, that can be used with existing traffic lights, worked effectively.

The system is capable of detecting problems such as faulty globes, damage caused by traffic accidents or vandalism.

The fault will instantly be reported to the control centre via SMS, where technicians will work to solve the problems.

This innovative technology will ensure that traffic lights are not broken for months on end before the issues are reported.

Abigail was one of the 225 juniors who took part in the fair, and her project was measured against 135 others in the engineering category.

Her project secured her the top junior 2019 Eskom Expo ISF scientist award, as well as R50 000.

The project looked at using a renewable energy system to ensure optimal function of traffic lights which contribute to the woes of motorists in the country.

An inbuilt fault detection system instantly reports faults, via SMS, to the control centre where technicians are made aware of the problems.

According to the judges, the fact that Abigail’s project incorporates solar and wind systems to generate an energy surplus not only makes it sustainable, but also good for the environment.

Should Abigail be interested, the project can be further developed to the value of R260 000 with the assistance of the Technological Innovation Agency (TIA).

She previously won the Eskom special award for the best development in the Bloemfontein region.

She has been selected to be part of a group of learners who will be interviewed for selection to represent South Africa at prominent international science fairs in America, China, Taiwan, Turkey, Zambia and Kenya.

This will be finalised in January 2020.

Iqra Faki of the Star College Sybrand Park in Cape Town was named as the top senior Eskom Expo ISF 2019 scientist for her project, Fractal Exploration: the three-dimensional Koch snowflake.

Other top-performing learners from the Free State received prizes in the form of bursaries, laptops and cash prizes.

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