Young scientist off to LA

2017-05-16 10:26
Young Claremont scientists Junho Ko and Katinka Wilkinson.

Young Claremont scientists Junho Ko and Katinka Wilkinson.

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A Claremont learner is flying the South African flag at an international science and engineering fair in Los Angeles this week.

Katinka Wilkinson, a Grade 10 learner from Hershel Girls’ School, was awarded the opportunity after she won a gold medal for her project in the Cape Town round of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists competition in August last year. She was then sent to the Eskom International Science Fair in Johannesburg where she won another gold medal.

Joanne Bottcher of Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, says because of her continuous achievement Katinka was then “chosen to be interviewed by a panel to determine whether her project would be used to represent SA overseas. She was chosen and has worked tirelessly to perfect her project.

“Katinka began by making her own flywheel and then decided to use the perfectly machined flywheels in old computers. Not only has she found an alternative method of energy storage, but by repurposing old computer parts, she is reducing waste with this green engineering solution.”

Katinka used discarded computer hard drives to invent a working power storage system which could be hooked up to solar panels in place of batteries. She powered up the flywheels and proved that they could provide usable power to the system.

“I started working on my project in March last year for a school project and I did not exactly expect it to go this big,” says ­Katinka.
Katinka is the second learner from Claremont to be chosen by Eskom Expo for Young Scientists to represent South Africa internationally, after Junho Ko from Bishop’s High School in Rondebosch who also won a competition to attend the International Energy, Engineering and Environmental Science Fair in Texas two weeks ago.

Junho’s project investigates using recycled 500ml plastic bottles filled with water to insulate homes in informal settlements from extreme heat and cold. His innovation has been successful in lowering temperatures as much as 5°C in hot weather.

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