School student examines expired sunscreens


A 13-year-old Waikato school student has been testing his mother’s assurance that sunscreens past their expiry dates are still effective.

Spencer Cleland, of St Peter’s School, Cambridge, entered the annual NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair being held in Hamilton this week, after noting that all the sunscreens in his home had expired.

“My mother said they should still work. But New Zealand has a very high rate of skin cancer, so it is important the sunscreen used is effective. Sunscreens are also very expensive so if they were still effective after their expiration date, that would save people money,” Spencer said.

His results can be seen at Hamilton Gardens Pavilion during public viewing of the event on Friday from 3-6pm and on Saturday from 9am-2pm.

Spencer’s project is one of about 520 fair entries from 600 students. Organisers say this is an increase of about 150 on the previous two years. Spencer says he enters because he enjoys the opportunity to learn science through real life experiences and because he gets to choose what to investigate.

The budding scientists are vying for a total prize pool of about $10,000. The best in fair prize is $1000. All entries are judged by a team of experts, including commercial industry scientists, research scientists and educators.

Innovation is a key component with this year’s projects including titles such as Is The 5 Second Rule Really True? The Science Behind Nerf Guns, Mycofiltration of Dairy Effluent and Greywater – Turning Waste into a Resource.

NIWA also offers a paid work experience scholarship for the senior high school student with the most outstanding exhibit.

Prizewinners will be recognised at an official ceremony on Tuesday, August 28.

More information:

 Waikato Science Fair  


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