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IT IS time for whizz kids in Gauteng to uplift their communities through innovative ideas.
They have to use mathematical, scientific, technological, engineering, technical and entrepreneurial principles as part of the Blue IQ Smart Young Mindz Challenge.
The competition, which is supported by Sowetan, the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation and the Gauteng department of education, was launched this week in Newtown, Johannesburg.
Smart Young Mindz is conducted under the auspices of the Gauteng economic development department.
It encourages pupils in grades 8, 9 and 10 to generate commercially-viable products or services by using their knowledge of science, engineering, technology and entrepreneurship.
"This competition represents everything we aspire to as a newly-born democratic community," said Firoz Cachalia, Gauteng MEC for economic development.
"It articulates our hopes that our young people will thrive and fulfil their potential in almost every endeavour," he said.
Cachalia said South Africa was not producing the "desired outcomes" yet. "If we are going to achieve our objectives with respect to economic growth and job creation, it can only happen if it is underpinned by improved outcomes in education."
Nosipho Kunene, Thando Gumede, Busisiwe Gambu, Makhosazana Dubazana and Iris Nxumalo from Mondeor High School won the second prize in the competition in 2008.
Gambu said: "It is very good that they are implementing innovation and technology at schools because it is something we have to understand properly in order to be leaders of tomorrow.
"It is important for pupils to understand that we can all help invent products that will make the future better."
Dubazana said: "We must know what affects our societies and think of ways to create better, safer and more environmentally-friendly products and services because we are faced with global warming, for example. It is very important to protect the environment."
Nxumalo said: "We are constantly learning about creative solutions to problems facing our society and I think that the Blue IQ project helps us to implement what we learn in the class. This project helps us to think about creative solutions to implement to the problems so that we can make our society a better place."
Encouraged by Cachalia's announcement that an innovation hub has been established to give life to the contestants' creations, Gumede said: "This is good because most young people do not pursue technical subjects because they imagine that they will encounter financial problems."
To watch the video of the interview with the bright pupils who won the competition in 2008, visit www.sowetan.co.za
To enter the Smart Young Mindz Challenge, telephone 011-689-1600 or fax 011-689-1655 or visit www.sym.co.za, www.blueiq.co.za or www.gautengonline.gov.za
l Additional reporting by Victor Mecoamere.