Scientist gets bronze at international science fair

Thabo Maliea and his science project, a home-made observational apparatus

A young scientist from Botshabelo bagged a bronze medal (3rd place) in the Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF), which was held virtually from 2 to 5 February 2021.

Thabo Maliea (18), who wants to pursue a career in astrophysics, said Eskom Expo registered him for the competition because his project, which is ‘Investigating the movement of the sun and of the stars using a homemade observational apparatus instead of a normal expensive one’, was one of the Top 5 projects chosen by the Eskom Expo judges.

“My expo mentor, Dr Cronjé, helped with the apparatus. I investigated the track of movement of the sun and the stars for a period of 5 months,” Maliea said. He added that the apparatus was made by mounting a transparent acrylic on a camera tripod. “Eskom had to register my credentials, project name, send a short video of me explaining my project and send a project report, all of which they did,” he said.

Maliea told Bloemfontein Courant he was interviewed by the TISF judges via Microsoft Teams, a video calling app where he had to give a proposal about his project and tell them what it was all about. He added that all foreign participants could only enter if they had been chosen by a science fair held in their country. He was fortunate enough to be chosen by the Eskom Expo.

Many first world countries entered this virtual fair which ran for four days. Each country had to enter two participants. Maliea was one of the honoured participants from South Africa.

“I won the third award, which came with a bronze medal, certificate and cash prize of R1000,” he said.

“It was an honour winning the award, but I would have liked to physically experience the science fair in all its glory.”

He added that his life-long dream has always been to be one the best astrophysicists in Africa.

Heidre Malgas