Yeast project excels at Auckland science fair

A student science project praised for its creativity and flair took out the premier award at the NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair announced this week.

Year 8 Auckland Normal Intermediate pupil Ella Buchanan beat more than 260 students from Years 7-13 with her project Yeasts Feast On Sugar And Sound, for which she received $600.

Ella looked at recipes containing different types of sugar and compared how it took for measured amounts to produce 100mL of carbon dioxide. 

Then, after learning that winemakers have used sound waves to stimulate yeast, she decided to use different sound frequencies generated through her iPod to determine whether they would have a similar effect on yeast used in baking.

Her results showed certain frequencies noticeably increased the production of carbon dioxide.

Murray Black, leader of the judging team, said Ella's originality and creative thinking had led her to investigate something new and different which impressed the judges.

The runner-up, who received $350, was Carena Lai of Auckland Diocesan School for Girls for her project entitled Killer Woods. Carena compared the anti-microbial properties of five wooden chopping boards, all made from different woods, as well as a synthetic board.

The NIWA Auckland prize went to St Cuthbert's students Alexandra Fowler and Emily Mulgan for their Go With The Flow project which measured and compared sediment in forest, farm and urban environments. They will spend some time at the NIWA Auckland office during the school holidays.

Mr Black  praised the winning students for their enthusiasm and ability "to ask some really good questions".

"There was some great science undertaken for this year's fair and I congratulate all those students who took time with their entries to thoroughly research and present their findings.

""I am very encouraged by the complexity of some of the topics the students chose to examine and the passion with which they conducted their investigations," Mr Black said.

The NIWA Auckland City Science and Technology Fair offers overall prize money of about $8000 in a wide range of categories.

For full results see 

Trevor Mander
Ella Buchanan, a Year 8 student from Auckland Normal Intermediate, won the NIWA premier award at this year's Auckland science fair. [Trevor Mander]
Trevor Mander
Carena Lai of Auckland Diocesan School for Girls was runner-up in the NIWA Auckland science fair for her project entitled Killer Wood which investigated the anti-microbial properties of chopping boards. [Trevor Mander]