KZN learner wins top award on her Covid-19 research project on masks

By Nokuthula Mabuza Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Durban: Kaylee Budhram, 9, of Phoenix, is ecstatic after scooping top prize in the biomedical and medical category at the recent Eskom Expo for Young Scientists' KZN virtual awards ceremony.

The competition was open to young scientists in various categories.

Kaylee, a grade 4 learner at Hopeville Primary School, said she registered online using an App that was created by Eskom for interested candidates.

"I spent months preparing my research. I submitted all the hypotheses, methods, and procedures in a step-by-step process by July 31. My sister assisted me to log in and upload the documents," said Kaylee.

“My study was based on the surgical mask versus the cloth mask. I conducted an experiment using these types of masks to determine which one was more effective against the coronavirus. I ran them through breathing tests at different distances to see which mask was better in terms of not allowing germs to penetrate through the mask. From my research, I found that surgical masks were safer.”

She said she was grateful to her sister, Cadence, 15, a grade 10 pupil, for helping to conduct the experiments.

"Prior to the awards ceremony, the judges, teachers and organisers reviewed and provided assistance with our draft projects. I knew that I wanted the gold but I also knew the competition would be tough as we have great young scientists in the province.

"I put my heart and soul into the science project. I believe my research was different because everyone could relate to the topic and it is relevant to what we are experiencing now. It feels good to be rewarded for my work.”

She said although she had not thought much about what she wanted to study, she was enjoying her scientific experiences.

Budhram’s mother, Shannon, 42, an occupation compliance officer, said Kaylee always wanted to make a difference and help others.

“As a baby, Kaylee was always fascinated by her sister’s science experiments when she practised. I am excited that she’s doing the same thing. Knowing all the effort she put into this, and it has been a long tough year for everyone, and getting this good news felt like a ray of sunshine.”

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