Mutafela Sinvula (8) emerged as a star at the recent Erongo Regional Science Fair for creating a functional thermos flask from everyday materials.
She was the youngest participant and represented her school, the Paheye Primary School of Omaruru, making her achievement even more remarkable.
“The main reason I came up with this idea was because this winter was extremely cold, so I could not bear seeing other learners drinking cold tea and juice in the cold,” she told Youth Corner.
The ingredients for her thermos flask included a small plastic container typically used for ‘Oros’ or a large plastic water container, aluminium foil paper, insulator polythene sourced from an old fridge, wood glue and cello tape.
Sinvula was excited to prove her hypothesis, saying “The most interesting part was when I proved my hypothesis, and I was like wow! It worked; I made it! The main purpose of the insulator polythene and the aluminium foil paper is to contain the heat.”
Over several weeks, she diligently tracked the performance of her thermos flask. She said, that in the first week, after three hours, the temperature dropped to 20°C, and five hours later it was at 5°C. Week two saw significant improvements, with the temperature at 43°C after three hours and 20°C after five hours. By week three, her thermos flask had reached its peak performance, maintaining a temperature of 50°C after three hours and 30°C after five hours.
However, the journey was not without its share of challenges. Her determination was put to the test when her thermometer broke during the project, requiring her to source another one. Additionally, she encountered unexpected setbacks when her initial attempt to insulate the container yielded unfavourable results. She realised that the materials she used played a pivotal role in the success of her project, and she persevered in finding the right ones.
Despite the challenges she faced, the second grader’s dedication and innovative spirit shone through, earning her a well-deserved silver medal at the Erongo Regional Science Fair.
Initially unaware of what a science fair was, Sinvula learnt that it is a platform for young minds to explore new innovations. She was nominated to represent the Junior Primary Phase and was pleasantly surprised by the opportunity.
Sinvula won a gold medal at the circuit level which made her qualify for regionals, where she scooped a silver medal.
She is eager to find out more about how this project can be extended to keeping solid food warm for a longer period of time.
Asked to share some advice for her peers, she said, “My advice to young students is not to limit themselves just because they are in lower grades or young. They must grab the chance of science fair and go out there and showcase their talents.”
Sinvula is ready to join any big science fair ahead of her.
Her father Muumba Sinvula is proud of his daughter.
“Though its early to tell, I am left with no doubts that she will go far and will continue achieving her goals because she has proven what she is capable of. She only needs mentorship,” he said.
He noted that the primary responsibility of every parent is to ensure that the educational foundation of their children is properly layered, adding “I’m a person who wouldn’t want to ruin the future if I didn’t give my best in helping my children so that’s why I took the mentorship seriously in her science fair project.”
“She became inspired when she realised that I’m the kind of a person who is committed to doing my work and when I start something I accomplish it.”
He was touched by his daughter’s idea and also admired her commitment.
“I saw how she was determined about her project because she used to stay behind when the school knocked off so that she could work on her project; she would skip her lunch, and her sleeping hours were cut so that she could complete her project on time,” said the father.
Sinvula further said parents should support their children because they are the future leaders and their dreams matter.