Winning security, AI research sends youngsters to Taipei

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 26 Jan 2024
High school pupils Johannes Jacobus Deysel and Lethabo Molobi were top achievers at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair.
High school pupils Johannes Jacobus Deysel and Lethabo Molobi were top achievers at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair.

Two South African learners have earned the opportunity to exhibit their scientific prowess at the 2024 Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF).

This follows their outstanding performance at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF).

A total of 630 young scientists from 27 countries worldwide are set to participate at this year’s TISF.

The seven-day event gives young science students an opportunity to compete and engage in a cultural exchange with their fellow international science peers.

It is aimed at encouraging the exchange of ground-breaking science research among high school students and offer them an opportunity to present research projects to fellow international science students, educators, professors and experts.

According to a statement, the two local learners who will attend the TISF presented impressive research projects at the ISF in October.

They are Lethabo Molobi, a Grade 12 learner at Zinniaville Secondary School in the North West’s Bojanala region, and Johannes Jacobus Deysel, a Grade 11 learner at Hoërskool Jim Fouché in Bloemfontein.

They will participate at the Taiwan fair, which takes place from 27 January to 2 February at the National Taiwan Science Education Centre in Taipei.

According to Eskom, SA participates in this fair each year. Eskom Development Foundation acting CEO Mologadi Motshele states: “Eskom is dedicated to investing in the growth of young scientists and engineers, supporting their development to discover sustainable solutions for our country's progress.

“The Eskom Expo is a key player in cultivating responsive minds that take decisive action against current and future challenges. We are very proud of our two learners, whose innovative research attempts to solve contemporary problems.

“I have no doubt that our two participating learners – like their predecessors who competed on the global stage – will continue to inspire the youth of our country as shining examples of what is possible within the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation space. We wish them all the best as they head to Taiwan to compete against their peers.”

Molobi, a silver medal recipient at last year’s Eskom Expo ISF, will showcase her research project titled: “From human intelligence to artificial intelligence chatbots: Modern-day writing”.

The research examines whether it is easy to differentiate between artificial intelligence (AI)-generated text and human-generated text, in a school setting.

With AI being a popular topic and a possible emerging problem in education, especially in developing countries, Molobi’s project delves into whether AI poses a threat to academic integrity and if society needs to transition towards a more adaptive educational environment.

Deysel, a gold medal recipient at last year’s Eskom Expo ISF, will present his research project titled: “Breaking a Caesar cipher/Vigenère cipher encryption for secure data communication”.

The research reveals that cipher text generated using Caesar and Vigenère algorithms can be easily compromised through brute-force methods.

Eskom Expo executive director Parthy Chetty comments: “We are excited to start the year on a positive note with these two learners representing South Africa on the international stage.

“The learners will showcase their projects to judges and will also participate in a series of cultural activities and social events. The projects to be presented have been done over a long period of time after hard work and dedication, and therefore these learners deserve this accolade to represent their country and travel to Asia for the first time in their lives.”

Registration to take part in Eskom Expo 2024 is open. Learners in grades four to 12, along with NC2 to NC4 learners from TVET colleges, can register their projects by visiting the expo website.