Cape Town high school student Phoebe Mgxaji (16) has done the Mother City proud by winning major honours in one of the largest science competitions in the world.
Young Mgxaji proved the abilities of aspiring female scientists when she competed in the 39th Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition and received a silver medal in the Biomedical Science category, a R4 250 cash prize and the Youth Science and Technology Innovation special award.
Mgxaji is a student at Curro Sitari in Somerset West and was one of only four girl scientists from South Africa selected to exhibit at the event in China, which is sponsored by the Beijing district government.
The path to the Beijing science competition wasn’t an easy one. First, Mgxaji’s project about food labelling had to make it through a regional round and then get the thumbs up at Eskom’s Expo for Young Scientists events in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
Mgxaji stresses that her project was about more than doing well at the international science competition and she hopes to bring about real change in society with her work. One of her main focuses is to reduce the jargon on food labels and increase the information regarding the nutritional contents.
“People are not aware of what they are eating, because the information is too scientific, or filled with numbers that regular people don’t understand,” Mgxaji says.
As one of South Africa’s biggest problems is obesity, the young learner is hoping to change the way large food companies label their products to better communicate to the consumer what they are eating.
After high school, Mgxaji plans to study Cardiology, explaining how this ties in with her recent project. “What you eat does affect your health, and your health does affects your heart,” she says.
With bright young people like Mgxaji taking charge of the future, we feel some reassurance that Cape Town is in good hands.
Picture: Curro Sitari Somerset West