Vege icecream scoops tech prize

COOL IDEA: Science fair winner Maddison McQueen-Davies 12, year 8.
COOL IDEA: Science fair winner Maddison McQueen-Davies 12, year 8.

Getting vegetables into children via icecream sounds like every kid's worst nightmare, but a Manawatu 12-year-old has proved it can be done.

Maddison McQueen-Davies took out the top technology prize at the Manawatu Science and Technology Fair, for her project on getting vegetables into icecream.

The Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School pupil said research showed 40 per cent of children were not eating the right amount of fruit and vegetables, probably because of the way they tasted, but almost all children liked icecream.

"I wanted to develop a product where you can be eating vegetables but not taste them."

The result was a raspberry icecream which was 50 per cent vegetables, but also with half the sugar and fat of typical brands.

"Nine out of the 10 children who tried it enjoyed it, and the one that didn't just didn't like raspberry icecream," she said.

Maddison said she was hoping to get a doctorate in food technology one day, before working for a company like Fonterra.

Palmerston North Boys' High School student Kyle Robertson, 17, won the science prize for his project on how soil compaction affected nitrate leaching.

While most of us, including Robertson, would think denser soil would slow leaching, the opposite proved to be the case. A possible cause was large pores on the top of soil were being destroyed.

As those pores held "mobile water", their destruction meant the nitrate had nowhere to go but down, he said.

Robertson said the compaction theory was largely the same on both sandy and firmer soils, but it was more of a problem with sandy soil.

Most sandy soil was nearer waterways, where nitrate leaching was an issue, he said.

Having the right number of cows on a piece of land was the best way to combat the leaching, as it reduced the amount of urine - rich in nitrogen - getting on to the soil.

It also meant there was less weight on the land.

The project was an extension from one Robertson did two years ago, looking at whether different kinds of soils leaked nitrates the same way.

"I want to look at ways we can keep value in farming while improving the environment," he said.

Robertson and Maddison's projects were the top entries out of the 135 presented at the fair.

Other projects included turning bras into eye protectors for cows, and testing the density of various hard woods.

Minushika Punchihewa, 18, was the runner-up in the science category for her project on creating a visual test to see if clover varieties could be bred without creating a sterile plant.

Having first started working on plant projects when in year 9, the Palmerston North Girls' High School student said her project was about creating a test which could save money and lab time for plant breeding programmes.

Manawatu Standard