Zara wins silver in Taiwan

2018-02-06 06:00
Zara Nijzink-Laurie

Zara Nijzink-Laurie

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Zara Nijzink-Laurie, a Grade 8 learner at Rustenburg Girls’ High School in Rondebosch won a silver medal for her project about the menstrual cup. She competed at the International Science Fair in Taiwan last week.

She says the competition afforded her the opportunity to share her ideas with other like-minded individuals.

She says the important thing for her was the chance to talk about the issue of menstruation management, thus showing that South African social issues “are in fact global issues”.

Zara was one of two young South African scientists who represented the country at the prestigious Taiwan International Science Fair in Taipei from Sunday 28 January to Friday 2 February. She and Kalsee Nadasen from Gauteng were selected following their excellent scientific projects, which they presented at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists’ International Science Fair in October last year. They competed in the Medical Science and Healthcare category for a prize worth R4m.

She says that during the competition she was inspired by sharing experiences and findings while getting exposure to scientists from across the world.

“My project was about an issue every schoolgirl in South Africa and around the world has experienced – how to manage your period. Menstruation management is a sensitive topic and many people find it uncomfortable to talk about. But many girls in South Africa and elsewhere miss school because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads, so it is an issue that needs ­attention.

“We simply have to talk about it and investigate it. My investigation was about the menstrual cup as an alternative method of menstruation management that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than pads and tampons. The cup is not widely known or used and I wanted to find out why and what the main barriers are to using the cup among schoolgirls,” Zara says.

“I hope my project also shows other participants that science can address many different questions, including questions that are important to the everyday lives of teenage girls like me.”

She says she is happy that her hard work paid off, as she had been working on this project from January last year, with the help of her mother and other people who continuously supported and advised her.

Zara advises other young people to put effort into everything they do and to always seek room for improvement.

Her mother, Lia Nijzink-Laurie, says the family is extremely proud of Zara’s achievement. She says it has been wonderful to see her working so hard on a science project that relates to issues of female health and wellbeing.

“We are very happy for her and could not be prouder! It has been an enriching experience for Zara in many ways – to research something that directly relates to experiences of girls like her, to work through the entire research process and to persevere through project upgrades and revisions,” says Lia.


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