Byline: Nonjabuliso Nhlambo & Refeloe Letsoisa

07 September 2022

Sasol has this week announced the top 18 energy projects in the Sasol Energy Innovation Schools competition, which took place across Sasol’s fence-line communities.

The outstanding energy projects were developed by primary and high school learners in Sasolburg, Secunda and Ekandustria, and were presented in front of an independent panel of judges.

The learners developed the projects to address energy challenges faced by their communities and schools.

“We are thrilled to announce the list of schools that will be proceeding to the final level of the competition.

All the schools did incredibly well, and the good thing is that the learners, by themselves, were able to identify the energy challenges in their communities and utilised the power of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to develop solutions that could possibly improve their communities,” said Noxolo Kahlana, Head of the Sasol Foundation Trust.

The top 18 projects are from the following schools; Nelson Mandela Primary School, Sasolia Primary School, Sinenhlanhla Primary School, Lehutso Primary School, Thandanani Primary School, Bronkhorstspruit Primary School, Zivuseni Primary School, Boitlamo Secondary School, Holmdene Secondary School, Dan Kutumela School, L.E Notsi Secondary School, Mzinoni Secondary School, Lingitjhudu Secondary School, Nkgopoleng Secondary School and Sthembile Nkosi Secondary School.

“As Sasol, we are excited to recognise this new and upcoming generation of engineers and scientists. These schools, including those that didn’t make it to the final level of the competition, have all demonstrated a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and a desire to improve their communities.

This speaks directly to our goal at Sasol, which is innovating for a better future,” said Kahlana.

“It is our privilege to support the young minds who are shaping the future of energy not only in their communities but nationally.

Through this competition, as Sasol we are demonstrating how we execute our promise to society, to be a catalyst for positive change, through the promotion of STEM education.”

She added that: “We wish to see these schools participating in larger scale events which promote STEM and renewable energy, such as the Sasol Solar Challenge in order to contribute even further with their skills and knowledge through the development of solutions for real-world problems.”

The energy projects developed by the learners include solar powered streetlights, solar powered home, solar powered car, solar air heater, solar oven, solar powered water purification system and solar powered oxygen pump.

An esteemed group of judges evaluated each project based on the scientific knowledge, creativity, communication and presentation skills of the learners.

“It was impressive to see what the learners can do at such a young age.

They were able to present scientific projects that they developed by themselves.

The most fascinating thing is that they were passionate and showed confidence during the presentations,” said Nelia Manamela, a judge from the Sasolburg region.

“This is a great initiative by Sasol, as it teaches the learners to develop problem-solving skills for real-world challenges.

When they get to tertiary institutions, they would have acquired a great knowledge and skills in STEM fields, which will open many opportunities for them.”

One of the schools that made it to the final level of the competition in Ekandustria said they were excited and are grateful that their projects were selected to the top 18.

The school developed a solar powered water purification system and a solar powered oxygen pump. “This is more than a competition for us, but an opportunity to be part of the change in our schools and communities,” said Tinyiko Munisi, a school teacher at Dan Kutumela Secondary School.

“The special thing about these projects is that they were inspired by the families of the learners, who are depending on these equipment but struggle to utilise them when there is loadshedding.

We look forward to presenting these projects at the final level.”

Another school in Sasolburg said the competition has helped their learners to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and to also work as a team.

The school designed a solar oven and a solar car.

“It is exciting to see our learners participate in initiatives that contribute to a better future.

Even if we don’t win at the finals, but we will always be grateful for the opportunity to showcase what our learners can do,” said Lebo Mphasa, a schoolteacher at Nelson Mandela Primary School.

She added that: “At school, we have a science club where we meet once a week to discuss anything related to STEM and sometimes develop STEM solutions.

Everything that we learned from the competition we will apply it on our science club to make it even more exciting and appealing to other learners.

A school in Secunda said the competition is great exposure for the learners to help them understand how solar technology works and test their limits.

“It feels good to be selected for the final level of the competition. The school doesn’t have enough resources, but the learners were able to apply their theoretical knowledge and used what they had to build the projects,” said Khothatso Nthaba, a schoolteacher at Holmdene Secondary School.

“As a school we are planning to get more learners involved in STEM and energy initiatives to prepare them for the future.”

The final competition will be held on 08 September in Carnival City Casino, East of Johannesburg, where the winners will be announced. Grand prizes for the competition are to the value of R20 000.00 for a primary school team and R50 000.00 for a high school tea