Floating in two-litre plastic bottles on the window sills of a high school classroom, the algae looks more like part of a science experiment than a carefully cultivated superfood. But the plant is full of vital nutrients, and studies suggest it might be the key to eradicating malnutrition worldwide.

Students from Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv have devised a method to easily cultivate spirulina. They came to Cape Town last week to share the project at the Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Technology. Grade 10 pupils from Heathfield High School, the Centre for Science and Technology in Khayelitsha, Groenberg Secondary School in Grabouw and De RustFutura Academy in Elgin learned to grow the algae.

Ronwin George,17, a Heathfield High pupil, said he found the spirulina project interesting. “There’s a lot of protein in it, especially when you eat it fresh. It’ll make you healthy.”

Pupils at Heathfield High have started growing spirulina at home, where their families can put a few grams of the plant into soups, muffins and peanut butter sandwiches.

Fifteen-year-old Epiphane Furaha said her family “loves the stuff”. “We have like three grams a day. My parents always make sure that we have it.”