The paper compares the experiences of rural and urban learners who participate in Eskom Expo for Young Scientists science fairs in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Within an exploratory case study in the Limpopo province, a third-generation activity-theory framework was applied as an analytical tool to determine differences in activities between learners from rural and urban schools. To address triangulation, personal meaning mapping, interviews, focus-group discussions, and observations were used. The study involved eleven learners, six from rural schools and five from urban schools. Themes were identified to present the learners` view on science fairs and possible reasons for their performance or failure. The results revealed that the differences in activities of rural learners are due to: poor school facilities, lack of support, lack of mentors, lack of equipment, lack of computers and computer illiteracy. Two new areas are confirmed namely the level of attention with regards to learner`s engagement and readiness to learn and depth of knowledge of learners – factors that were not identified in previous studies on science fairs.