Smart switch could save lives on farms

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 06:55 23/08/2014
Southland Times photo
LAUREN HAYES/Fairfax NZ
LIFESAVER: James Hargest College pupil Maria Burnett, 16, shows off her prize-winning project, the Smart Switch, which could save farmers’ lives.

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The scientific smarts of a young Southlander could save lives on farms.

James Hargest College pupil Maria Burnett took home the premier technology award from the NZAS Science and Technology Fair for her project, Smart Switch.

For the project, the 16-year-old invented a shield to cover the power take-off (PTO) shaft on tractors.

The PTO shaft carried electricity from the tractor to the implement attached to it and spun 16.6 times a second, so was very dangerous, Maria said.

The smart switch not only shielded farmers from the shaft if they fell on it, but would also cut its power, through two switches.

She decided to design a protective shield after her father, a dairy farmer at Dacre, told her how dangerous PTO shafts were, she said.

The teenager worked on the project for about four months, putting in some long hours around school and sporting commitments.

With a little inspiration and guidance from teachers, the project also opened her to a whole new world of learning, she said.

"I'm not really a workshop girl, but I've learned a lot.

"Before this I never had an interest in technology. Now I'm really interested in it."

Maria hopes the smart switch will eventually be available on the market, using industrial plastic instead of sheet steel.

The NZAS Science and Technology Fair finished up with a prizegiving last night at the Ascot Park Hotel.

Year 5 to 13 pupils from about 20 schools throughout Southland entered the annual event.

Topics investigated included if egg size affected the taste of cakes, which design of smoke alarm was most effective and how leg length impacted a rower's ability.

 

PREMIER AWARDS

NZAS Premier Science Award: Spice Up Your Life, Shreya Bir and Yuen Ki Wong (Southland Girls; High School).

NZAS Premier Technology Award: Smart Switch, Maria Burnett (James Hargest College).

MAJOR AWARDS

Fonterra Excellence in Science Year 5 & 6: Whether the Weather is What They Say, Maeghan Casey (St John's Girls' School).

Fonterra Excellence in Technology Year 5 & 6: The Proof is in the Pillow, Trelise Edwards (St Theresa's School, Invercargill).

Fonterra Excellence in Science Year 7 & 8: What insulation is the safest?, Shaun Wood (Limehills School).

NZAS Excellence in Technology Year 9 & 10: Hearing Impaired Alerter, David Jagoutz (James Hargest College).

NZAS Excellence in Science Year 9 & 10: Fertiliser Race, Samantha Wilcox (James Hargest College) and Sprouting Seeds, Ellenna Pritchard (James Hargest College).

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Dairy NZ Excellence Award: Smart Switch, Maria Burnett (James Hargest College).

NZAS Excellence in Science Year 11-13: Spice Up Your Life, Shreya Bir and Yuen Ki Wong (Southland Girls' High School).

NZAS Excellence in Technology Year 11-13: Smart Switch, Maria Burnett (James Hargest College).

University of Otago Hands On Science: Spice Up Your Life, Shreya Bir and Yuen Ki Wong (Southland Girls' High School). --------------------

- The Southland Times

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