Pinelands learners to take part in International Festival of Engineering Science and Technology
24 March 2023
Joseph Gibbon and Matthew Redfern, Grade 12 learners at Pinelands High School, earned gold medals at the prestigious International Festival of Engineering Science and Technology in Tunisia (I-FEST2) after impressing judges with their research on mitigating plastic pollution.
Their study, “Comparing and evaluating different types of bioplastic polymers – an investigation into bioplastics”, was deemed one of the top 10 projects of the festival. They made their own bioplastics (starch-based, gelatin-based, and fish-scale-based bioplastics) and tested the plastic's tensile strength, biodegradability, solubility, flammability, and thermal properties.
“We are delighted to receive a gold medal at I-FEST2. We have worked really hard on this project and we are glad to see it pay off. We are so proud of our project. We really enjoyed the whole experience. We learnt a lot about science, research and innovation, and were amazed by the beautiful and fascinating culture of Tunisia. The programme was fun, as well as educational and interesting. Overall, it was a really enriching experience,” said the duo.
“When we began working on this project for our school, we had no idea that IFEST2 existed, but now we've had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To us, this shows that if you work hard and give your all for everything you do, it will pay off in ways you can't even imagine right now,” the duo added.
The young scientists participated in the Eskom Expo International Science Fair (ISF) in December 2022, where they bagged a gold medal for their research, along with the opportunity to represent South Africa at the I-FEST2. They also won the top senior category award in the Chemistry and Biochemistry category, and an opportunity to participate in a one-week boot camp and access to Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) funding valued up to R260 000 for their project.