Cape Town - Grade 10 Star College Cape Town learner Zariah Parker is leaving for Bali, Indonesia, today to showcase her innovative solution to Styrofoam pollution.
The dynamic 15-year-old from Rylands had been working on the project since Grade 9, with her research project recognised and winning gold at the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists International Science Fair (ISF) in December last year.
Parker will join three other young South Africans to showcase their project at the Indonesia International Science Technology and Engineering Competition (Istec) in Bali this week.
The competition, which seeks to identify innovative solutions to global problems, takes place on May 10-14.
Parker’s project, “A solution to Styrofoam pollution: the effectiveness of turning Styrofoam waste into an adhesive”, turns the non-biodegradable material into a home-made glue.
After testing various solvents, Parker found that D-limonene was the better choice in terms of dissolving Styrofoam, the mass of glue produced, drying time of the glue and the strength of the glue, for a quick and easy-to-make glue.
“We got a new fridge and other appliances and with that came a whole lot of packaging of Styrofoam and then it just built up in the garage,” she said.
“I found out about all the negative effects of Styrofoam, that it takes over 500 years to biodegrade, that it fills up 30% of landfills worldwide and over time it releases harmful chemicals into the environment.
“I then found that D-limonene, a natural substance from orange and lemon peels, can actually dissolve it.”
Star College Girls campus senior science teacher and expo supervisor Andeline Brandt said: “She was a gold medallist at the regionals and the ISF and so her project was chosen to represent SA in Bali this year.”
A Grade 10 learner from Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, Matthew Crouch, will also leave for Bali to exhibit his research project: “The use of UV light to delay ripening and prevent decay of plums.”
Expo regional director Olga Peel said: “The expo is a competition, so learners have been doing projects at school and then they enter their projects into this competition. They’re all STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).”