Student shares joy of science
Making her markKELSEY FLETCHER
Bright Young Things
Three years ago, Zoe Glentworth thought science was all about people in white lab coats and foggy goggles, discovering things no-one really cared about.
But now the 13-year-old Palmerston North Girls' High student is encouraging other young people to experiment and test out their theories.
Her foray into science began at intermediate school under the wing of a dedicated teacher where. Studying the subject was compulsory.
"My first year in the science fair I did possum merino - I wanted to find out if it was better at keeping the heat in than other fabrics," she said. "Then the next year I went on to looking at insecticidal properties of kawakawa leaves.
"What I did, in partnership with The Herb Farm in Ashhurst, was develop an insect repellent in the form of a balm. It's really exciting because it's now available online and in store - that was how I got excited about science."
Zoe's research into the kawakawa leaf was sparked after looking at a bottle of insect repellent in her medicine cupboard at home.
"On the label of the bottle it said it had potentially harmful chemicals in it," she said. "I looked into it and found it had bad side-effects so what I wanted to do was make a natural insect repellent that was effective at the same time."
At Girls' High, Zoe continued her research into the kawakawa insect repellent, with the aim of creating more products.
For the Manawatu Science and Technology Fair, she made a spray, a roll-on and a cream, but found out the different extraction methods for removing the oil from the kawakawa leaves didn't always work.
Her science board won a place at the Royal Society's Realise the Dream event, which rewards 20 secondary school students from around the country with a week at science institutions and having fun activities.
Zoe said the nomination, $500 cash prize and medal came as a complete surprise as many students given the prize were seniors.
"Maybe they thought my project was original. People have looked at the anti-inflammatory properties of kawakawa but no-one has looked into it as an insect repellent," she said. "It opened my eyes to a career in science, which I had never thought of before, but I'm not quite sure what I want to do yet.
"In year 7 I had no idea what science was, I thought it was people with fogged-up goggles and white lab coats, working for ages to find out things that no-one wants to know, but actually, it's the complete opposite."
Now Zoe wants to encourage other people to get involved in science fairs so they can share her enjoyment of science.
"It could lead you to careers in science and maybe even change the world," she said. "You never know what you can do or discover and it's taken me to Realise the Dream."
Zoe has set up a blog, sciencewithzoe.blog.com, about her experiences with science and Realise the Dream.
- © Fairfax NZ News