Wellington's next top scientists on show

Budding scientists from across the Wellington region are competing this week in the annual NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair.

More than 550 students from 44 schools in the region are vying for a range of prizes in the prestigious competition which is open to pupils in years 7 to 13.

NIWA scientist and fair co-ordinator Sylvia Nichol is excited about seeing what New Zealand's future scientists have been thinking about today.

"I am always impressed by the enthusiasm and effort students put into their projects. Science and technology fairs are all about getting students to use scientific methods to solve real-life problems. I hope the work they have put into their projects encourages them to consider a career in science," she said.

Among the projects entered this year include an investigation into the new light proof milk bottle, several topical projects on earthquakes and safe structures, a project titled Antarctica: going, going, gone and research into classic technologies in the history of physics.

Also up for scrutiny are projects on whether singing helps us retain information, the effect on blood glucose between white and grain breads and using a cloud chamber to detect cosmic ray showers.

Dr Gillian Turner, Associate Professor—Physics in Victoria's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, will head a team of 26 judges for the event and says a number of this year's entries have aroused her curiosity.

"It's exciting to see the number of entries in this event continuing to increase and to also see the breadth and depth of topics chosen this year," Dr Turner says.

"Events like these are a great way to excite young people about a career in science and holding it at Victoria gives us an opportunity to show them some of the study programmes they could enter once they leave secondary school."

Students are competing for about $16,000 in total prize money across a broad range of categories. The winner of the best overall exhibit will receive $1000.

Victoria University, which is hosting this year's NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair, is also providing major prizes including a first year fees scholarship for a winning senior project and iPad for a successful junior project.

The fair is open to the public on Friday 30 August, the same day Victoria holds its annual Study at Vic Open Day when thousands of prospective students, their teachers and parents visit the university to see what is on offer.

Admission to the fair is free and the prizegiving ceremony will be held on Saturday.

NIWA wishes all students entering the fair the very best of luck. NIWA is also a major sponsor of the Auckland, Manukau, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato regional Science and Technology Fairs.

NIWA Wellington Regional Science Fair

Public viewing: Friday, August 30, 9am - 5pm; Saturday, August 31, 10am-1pm.

Admission: free

Venue: School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, Laby Building, Victoria University of Wellington

Prizegiving: 1:00pm Saturday 1 September,

For more details see sciencefair.org.nz.

Nathan Rattie competed in the Manukau Regional Science Fair. Nathan created bike indicators - a safety vest with indicator lights triggered by switches on the handle bars.
Dave Allen
Merryn Thompson with her entry in the NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair 2012. [Dave Allen]
Dave Allen
NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair 2012 competitors Danielle Watson, left, and Olivia Macrae, centre, discuss their entry with NIWA scientist Dr Julie Hall. [Dave Allen]