Meet Mike, the science whizz
Friday, 30 January 2015 00:00

Grantleigh pupil’s dream of being a robotics engineer is becoming a reality after he developed the first prototype of his ‘Energy through Motion’ project.

Grantleigh science whizz Michael van Niekerk
Grantleigh science whizz Michael van Niekerk

GRANTLEIGH School pupil Michael van Niekerk’s dream of being a robotics engineer is becoming a reality after he developed the first prototype of his ‘Energy through Motion’ project.

Known for his passion for innovation through science, the Grade 11 pupil narrowly missed taking first place at the Eskom eta Awards due to his prototype not reaching production stage at the time.

Michael first entered the Eskom eta Awards in July last year after working long and hard to develop his Grade 9 Science Expo project.

His project, involving a road-covering mat embedded with piezoelectric crystals, found favour with the judges and he was selected to go through to the second round, which involved an interview in Johannesburg in September.

He impressed the judges yet again and was selected as one of three finalists for the final round.

The winners and runners-up were announced at the Eskom eta Awards Gala Event in Johannesburg in November and Michael was placed as First Runner-Up in the Young Individuals Category, receiving a prize of R5 000.

There has been considerable interest in his innovative ideas.

Michael calls his work with piezoelectric crystals ‘a hobby’, but he has reached new heights with his invention.

It produces a charge when cars drive over it, with some cars producing up to 100 volts.

Any pressure exerted on the crystals creates charge and striking the mat with a hammer results in 1000 volts captured.

The output is very low amperage but high voltage, and the mats can be used to charge batteries and ultimately could power traffic lights, LED lights or other devices.

For more information on the Eskom eta Awards visit www.eta-awards.co.za.