• Eskom Expo winners 2013

    Johannesburg, 27 September 2013

    Congratulations to the two learners that won the NITheP Prizes for Best Physics and Best Mathematics projects. They were:

    Best Maths Project:
    Sam Pothier (Pinelands High, Grade 11)

    Best Physics Project
    Carla Prins (Lebone College, Grage 6)

    The math prize was given to Sam Pothier from Pinelands High School in Cape Town with a project called "Cubes and Spheres".Sam is in Grade 11. The physics prize went to Carla Prins (Grade 6) for a project called Magnets and Electricity. The NITheP judges were impressed with her demonstrations and ability to discuss the physics of electricity and magnetism at such a young age. It was also felt that they showed a lot of potential.

    The NITheP judges were:
    Garreth Kemp (PhD student)
    Nkuleleko Nokwara (PhD student)
    Stuart Graham (PhD student)

    NITheP wishes to express its gratitude towards the three judges for their personal time and effort in assisting with the judging.

    Feedback from Carla about her project

    My expo journey (Written by Carla Prins)

    We were working with magnets and electricity in class but on a very basic level and I was so intrigued and fascinated that I decided to research more. From then I spent most of my spare time online researching. I found lots of information but one thing that I couldn’t understand was the relationship between magnets and electricity. The more I researched, the more complex things got, so I scheduled interviews with some of the teachers at school hoping that they could help clear things up. After all this I came to the conclusion that it is the ferromagnetic particles inside a magnet that has the ability to attract and repel the electrons inside a conductor and that electrons also act like little magnets themselves. After I learned this I thought the science expo would be the perfect opportunity to showcase what I have learned. I then decided the main question I should investigate is: What is the relationship between magnets and electricity?

    During the process I came across three famous physicists that helped me come to a conclusion. The first is Michael Faraday and his law on induction. It states that the more coils you have the more electricity is able to be generated. This is because, a magnet has a field and when you move it in and out of a wire solenoid, the coils cut through the field creating a disturbance, movement, in the electrons which creates electricity. The second famous physicist is Heinrich Lenz. His law says that whichever way you move the magnet, the current will oppose and move in the opposite direction. The last physicist is John Ambrose Fleming and his left hand motor rule. This taught me that when you hold your thumb, index finger and middle finger all 900 to one another; and you point your index finger in the direction of the magnetic field, your middle finger in the direction of the current, then your thumb will indicate the direction of the thrust or force that the conductor experience. If I think about the little motors that I made, I learned that the spinning of the motor can be explained by looking at Fleming’s rule. Faraday’s Law on the other hand explain why many coils were needed before my motor worked.

    I really enjoyed my time at the expo because I got a chance to experience the high level of the other projects, and others who were also just as keen on science as I am. I believe this boosted my confidence to keep on investigating and learn as a scientist. It was also difficult at times because I had to learn that even when you are sick you sometimes have to push through and still do your best. I would have loved for everything to be perfect for the duration of the expo, but sometimes it’s not. At first I was on the ethics violation list for having branded names on my project, luckily I could fix it quickly. I think the most important thing to remember, is to keep calm and see if it is possible to fix your mistakes. During my research I came across a futuristic car based on these ideas. I would like to investigate and see if it is possible to build a model showcasing these ideas.

    I would like to thank L.Prins, H.Prins, N.Mbele, M.Murrungweni and S. Immelman, from Lebone College, for all their support. I would also like to thank The National Institute for Theoretical Physics for the wonderful prize they have given me and also for the opportunity tos hare my experience with them.

    Carla Prins
    Grade 6
    Lebone II College of the Royal Bafokeng

    Feedback from Sam about his project (written by Sam Pothier)

    If you take a science subject at my school in grade eleven, you need to do something for the Science Fair. I knew that maths projects were allowed and as I enjoy maths, I chose to do one. Mine was about multi-dimensional geometry, which sounds impressive but is really just applying principles I had learnt throughout school. The project was called Cubes & Spheres, and focused on finding ratios and patterns in these shapes, which I could represent as formulae or functions, and potentially expand to include more than three dimensions - the most interesting part.

    At school my mark wasn’t great but it was just enough to give me a spot at the regional expo. Not expecting to do particularly well, but improving my project as much as I could all the same, I chose to go. Everything went well and to my surprise I was awarded a gold medal, giving me the opportunity to go to the national expo in Joburg with about 30 other Cape Town medallists. The prospect of my work being scrutinised by the country’s experts was fantastic and, hoping it would be worth half the school holidays, I decided to take part.

    After minor corrections to my regional work, my project was complete (again) and I was off to Joburg, feeling hopeful. The accommodation - with Patrick, my classmate - was very good and after a long time of judging and much more waiting, the Special Awards came. The prize for the “Best Mathematics Project”, from the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP), was announced and I had won. All my work had paid off. Thanks to all the supervisors of the Cape Town delegation, my maths teacher and NITheP, for everything.

    Sam Pothier
    Grade 11
    Pinelands High