Electricity conversion project takes top prize at Auckland Science Fair
A suite of projects that ranged from whether toothpaste’s a scam to capturing air, to human superpowers made up the 206 entries at this year’s NIWA Auckland City Science & Technology Fair.
Coming out as the best overall was Diocesan School for Girls student Lauren Chee with her entry MFC-eize the Day. Lauren investigated the effect of changing glucose concentration on the voltage output of a yeast microbial fuel cell (MFC).
Lauren’s interest in redox reactions and electrolytic cells sparked her idea and MFCs crossed into her love for biology.
“I thought this is a really cool overlap between different disciplines,” says Lauren.
“I found that it’s a potential way to generate sustainable electricity. However, one of the issues that’s held back its widespread use is its low voltage output. Hence, I wanted to investigate how a particular factor could improve its viability.”
As well as the project being a success Lauren says for her the other unexpected result was that others found it interesting.
“I didn’t expect it to have as much recognition as it did!”
This is Lauren’s first time entering the Auckland Science Fair.
“I had planned to do it as an experience kind of thing as I’m in year 13 and wanted to try and do as many new activities before I left school,” says Lauren. “So I went in not really expecting much!”
Runner up overall and NIWA Auckland Prize for Best Exhibit in Atmospheric and Water Science was Epsom Girls’ Grammar School student Anushka Dissanayake. Anushka’s project, The Invisible World of Environmental DNA, investigated the impacts that severe weather events had on the correlation between the water quality and biodiversity in Auckland's streams.
Anushka Dissanayake 2023 Auckland SciTech Fair prize for Best Exhibit in Atmospheric and Water Science winner and overall runner up.
NIWA science fair coordinator and urban aquatic scientist Annette Semadeni-Davies has been part of the Auckland fairs for many years and she commented that the excitement of the kids is always striking.
“The buzz amongst these young scientists constantly amazes me and is wonderful to see”.
NIWA is a key supporter and sponsor of regional Science and Technology Fairs throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and has been for more than two decades. Sponsoring the fairs is part of a long-term NIWA commitment to enhancing science and technology for young New Zealanders.
The fair was hosted by Michael Park School with 20 schools participating from year nine through to year 13. There were 168 prizes awarded with 278 students taking part.
Full results can be found at scifair.org.nz .