NIWA Science & Technology Fair winners announced

The 2015 NIWA Regional Science and Technology Fairs have again been a resounding success.

Auckland Science Fair winners

An investigation into the filtering ability of green lipped mussels has earned an Auckland student the premier award in the NIWA Auckland Science and Technology Fair.

Yasmine Dai, a pupil at Diocesan School for Girls, took out the NIWA Premier Gold Award with her project, New Zealand’s Natural Filters. Yasmine found that even in silt polluted water, mussels are able to survive and filter water efficiently. Her prize was worth $600.

More than 230 students from 25 schools around Auckland have entered the annual fair which offers $10,000 in total prizemoney across a range of categories.

The NIWA Gold Award was won by Ponsonby Intermediate School students Kees De Groot and Louis Brewster for their project entitled Don’t Do Lead, Kids.

Kees and Louis tested lead contamination in and around old houses after renovations that involved removing lead paint. They also tested soil close to the house and at many locations further into the surrounding garden.

The NIWA Auckland Prize was won by Remuera Intermediate student Annabelle Davison. Anabelle investigated the pollutants in rainfall as a result of smoke produced by burning different sorts of wood. She burned wood and simulated rainfall using the garden hose and collected it in containers.

She then devised a method of measuring the pollutants by shining light into the contaminated water and comparing how much light was reflected and refracted from each sample.

Wellington Science Fair winners

The 2015 NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair has again been a resounding success, with over 500 intermediate and secondary school students taking part.

The Chief Judge Bradley Douglass, from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria University, says:

“It was again the toughest though most enjoyable job for our 28 judges to work their way through 400 exhibits, talking to the exhibitors and getting a sense for their passion for their chosen topics, and the challenges they went through to complete their research. 

“Intermediate through to high-school, the quality of ideas and execution of projects was so apparent. It was good to see, read and hear that the entrants are using so many resources in their libraries, community, family, and online to find things out and build things, and then tell such a great story of what makes their conclusions important to them and to others.”

Top prize-winners:

  • Jacqui Ormsby, a Year 8 student from Wadestown School, won the $1000 Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch prize for best overall exhibit with her project: ‘Would Wood Filter’. Jacqi was also judged first in Class 2. Jacqui wanted to find a cheap and readily accessible water filter that could be used in disaster recovery, and so tried using different types of wood as a filter.
  • Jack Tregidga, a Year 12 student from Wellington High School, won the Victoria University Innovation Prize of $4000 towards the fees in the first year of a Victoria University of Wellington undergraduate degree in science or engineering, which is donated by the university’s Research Office. Jack’s exhibit, ‘Clumsy Coffee Cup’, investigated the factors that make coffee slosh out of a cup when it is being carried. Jack also won the University of Otago Prize of a trip to 2016 Hands on @Otago summer school, and was judged first in Class 5.
  • Zavier Boyd, a Year 10 student from Naenae College, won the Victoria University Faculty of Science prize of an iPad for the best Class 1-4 (Years 7 - 10) exhibit. Zavier’s project ‘The Heat Is On’ was also judged first equal in Class 4. Zavier developed a house temperature simulation program, which accounts for wall thickness, insulation, and number of windows.

Other age class winners:

  • Embla Joergensen, from Evans Bay Intermediate, was judged first equal in Class 1 (Year 7) with her project ‘Liquifaction’.
  • Maeghan Casey, from St Benedict's School, was judged first equal in Class 1 (Year 7) with her project ‘Woolly Jumpers: for people, sheep and houses!’.
  • Dani Brearton and Nika Reichert, from Chilton Saint James School, were judged first in Class 3 (Year 9) with their project called ‘Ozone / Nozone’.
  • Tara Kendon, from Wellington Girls' College, was judged first equal in Class 4 (Year 10) with ‘Dangerous Homes? Measuring the Radio Frequency and Magnetic Field Output from Household Objects and Appliances’.

Details of the main prizewinners, and the first prizewinner in each class are posted at:

Bay of Plenty Science Fair winners

A Tauranga intermediate school student that created a road sign that changes speed displays according to the weather was awarded the overall, best in fair prize for his project at the BOP NIWA Regional Science & Technology Fair.

Cole Anderson, a Year 7 student at Tauranga Intermediate School, entered a prototype of the road sign at the fair last week and walked away with a $600 dollar cash prize and trophy.  

Cole studied road signs being used on the Kaimai Ranges, between Tauranga and Matamata, that change speed according to the weather but he noticed that they were controlled from another location and may not be able to predict the conditions in real time.

Cole talked the judges through a number of prototypes he had developed before finding one that worked. The judges were impressed with his innovative idea and ability to produce a simple yet effective design to help solve a real world problem.

The runner-up was Tauranga Boys’ College student Nathan King.

Manukau Science Fair winners

An intermediate school student has taken out the top award at NIWA Manukau Regional Science and Technology Fair.

Ethan McCormick, a Year 8 student at Somerville Intermediate School, was this week awarded the Premier Award for Best Exhibit of the fair by NIWA’s Auckland regional manager Ken Becke.

Ethan’s project was entitled ‘Mangemangeroa Medical’. He went out into the Mangemangeroa estuary at Howick to collect water quality data and to study how sedimentation affected its quality.

Ethan discovered there was more sedimentation upstream but less dissolved oxygen. With little data available in this area, Ethan has forwarded his results to the Friends of Managemangeroa, a volunteer group that helps protect the natural resources of the reserve.

Students from Years 7-13 entered the fair from more than 25 schools in the region, competing for more than $11,000 in prizemoney.

Organiser Catherine Hunter said the judges made several comments about the high calibre of projects from such young scientists.

“They were especially amazed by how personalised the scientific questions and technological designs were.”

Special awards for best innovation, invention or investigation went to:

  • Year 7 – Danielle Mayer, Saint Kentigern College, Margarine or Waterine
  • Year 8 – Ethan McCormick, Somerville Intermediate, Mangemangeroa Medical
  • Year 9 – John Yang, Bill Wong, Ryan Ngo, Mission Heights Junior College, Misconception
  • Year 10 – Avinash Sathiyaseelan, Mission Heights Junior College, Propelling the Dron
  • Year 11 – Timothy Dreadon, Manurewa High School, To Dry or Dehumidify?
  • Year 12 – Aimen Sana, Manurewa High School, Garlic: To Wait or Not!
  • Year 13 – Brad Kroef, Logan Brown, Pukekohe High School, Get a Grip.

For more information about the Manakau fair and winners contact:

Catherine Hunter Mission Heights Junior College 09-277 7881

NIWA congratulates all the winners on their work and looks forward to seeing them develop their scientific interests in coming years.

Tauranga Intermediate Student Cole Anderson, the overall, best in fair winner for the BOP NIWA Regional Science & Technology Fair.
Bay of Plenty Regional Science & Technology Fair winners at last week's prize giving. [Tracey Burton, NIWA]