Winners of the NIWA Waikato Science Fair announced

The winners have just been announced! The "Kawakawa pharmacy of the forest" exhibit wins top prize at the 2012 NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair. The fair had over 400 entries from more than 25 schools.

"The fair was a great success," says NIWA's Tracey Edwards, a senior judge at the Waikato Fair. "It was heartening to see so many young people embracing the scientific method, having fun with science and producing some fantastic results."

The 2012 NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair overall prize winner was Max Culver, from Fairfield Intermediate School, for his project "Rangoa – Maori – The anaesthetic properties of Kawakawa".

The Kawakawa tree is significant to Maori for its many healing properties, and is often referred to as the "pharmacy of the forest".

Max wanted to test the theory that Kawakawa has anaesthetic properties. To do this he made a pulp using the Kawakawa leaves, and a control pulp using spinach leaves.

Max was able to show that Kawakawa did produce an anaesthetic response.

He applied each of the pulps to the wrists of the students in his class and washed pulp solutions off after 10 minutes. To measure any anaesthetic effect from the pulp solutions he developed his own callipers with attached toothpicks to apply a two point discrimination test - a test used to measure sensitivity on each of the arms tested.

The judges commended Max on an original science fair project carried out to a high standard. They were impressed with his research into the area and the innovation demonstrated through his testing methods.

Max appeared overwhelmed on receiving his final trophy of the night – Best in Fair 2012. During the prize giving ceremony Max also received awards for:

  • First place in his class, Year 7-8 Living World (Biology) section
  • Merit Award from the New Zealand Statistical Association
  • Department of Biological Sciences (University of Waikato) Award
  • Waikato Botanical Society Award
  • WINTEC - Biotech Award
  • DairyNZ Trophy for Best Living World exhibit.

There were two runner up awards for the 2012 NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair.

First runner up was a project called "Vitamin C it – now you don't" by Indi Scott from Home School.

She also won her class section, Year 7-8 Material World, and the Hill Laboratories Trophy for Best Material World exhibit.

The other runner up was a project titled "Blown Away" by Rhys Duncan from St Peters School. He tested the theory that higher wind speeds cause more evaporation from water bodies.

He also won his class section, Year 9-10 Physical World, a Merit Award from the NZ Statistical Association and the University of Waikato Trophy for Best Physical World exhibit.

This year's winner of the NIWA paid work experience Scholarship is Cleave Holmes from St Peter's School for a project titled "Lemna Growth Systems". Cleave will work with NIWA Hamilton science staff for the summer, after completing his school exams in November.

The full list of winners is available in our Science and Technology Fairs results section, under Waikato 2012.

Photos of the winners are available in our Waikato Science Fair winners gallery.

The 2012 NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair Winners. Photo by NIWA Tracey Edwards