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Taxila Secondary School pupils take to water in Sweden

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
When the group of three pupils from Taxila Secondary in Limpopo entered the South African Youth in Water Competition they only had one goal in mind: to take home the prize.

“During the award ceremony when the winner was announced we knew that we had won because it was our goal to be number one,” explains Dipuo Nthane, 17, a Grade 11 pupil who is part of the team. The pupils built a model house with a purification system, which won them the national competition. Their prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Sweden to compete in the Stockholm Junior Water International.

They also won a cash prize of R8 000 to be shared among themselves and a full bursary to further their studies in a water-related field at any South African tertiary institution.

The team is made up of two girls and one boy namely Nthane, Nthabiseng Motona, 17, also in Grade 11 and Tebogo Mamabolo, 16, in Grade 10.

They came up with an idea of purifying rainwater from the roof to drinkable water using nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology deals with measurements and tolerances of less than 100 nanometres, especially the use of individual atoms and molecules.

“The problem with this system is that it is not safe and the water cannot be used for drinking. Our main aim was that the water that is harvested from the roof is safe enough to drink.”

“We used nanotechnology to purify water for example silver has been known to kill bacteria, we took science to a smaller scale,” said Motona.

The 2014 Stockholm Junior Water Prize International Final takes place during the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden from 31 August – 5 September 2014.

The group is very excited about attending the competition and representing the country.

Mamabolo says they got the idea for a water purification model during a debating competition.

“We decided to take what was being debated and make it practical and we built our own model house,” adds Motona.

Nthane said the project was also inspired by the lack of water in her community.

“I come from Blood River a semi-rural area. We have a problem of water being scarce. This project also showed me the importance of water conservation and technology.”

Mamabolo says while busy with the project they had the rural areas in mind because of inconsistent supply of water. The group is adamant that they have a future in the field of science and technology.

Nthane and Motona want to study engineering while Mamabolo wants to do microbiology.

School principal Caiphus Ramara said he was very proud of the learners' achievement and was confident that they would win the international competition.

Taxila Secondary School, located in Polokwane, had a 96,5 percent pass rate for the Grade 12 class of 2013.

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation more than 94 per cent of people have access to water and 84 per cent have access to sanitation systems.