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Student nominated for position

KIMBERLEY CRAYTON-BROWN
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012
Robert Tucker
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
WINNING ITEM: James Hargest College year 13 student Robert Tucker has been chosen for the Realise the Dream national science fair, after winning the premier award at the Southland science fair in September.

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One of James Hargest College's young science stars has capped off his high school years with a place in the national Realise the Dream competition.

Robert Tucker can list several science achievements after his years at the school and next month will spend a week with 19 other students selected by the Royal Society of New Zealand for the National School Science and Technology Awards.

The group will start in Auckland, stopping off in Hamilton and finishing in Wellington, and will be hosted by scientific organisations and universities along the way.

It is the third consecutive year the school has had a student selected for the competition: In 2010 Bailey Lovett was chosen for her study of bacterial levels in rivers after heavy rain, and last year Jack Hercus was chosen for his device designed to improve ski safety.

Robert was nominated after he won the premier award at the Southland science fair in September.

His project, which he described as "moderately simple", took a week to put together and looked at whether the chemical in PVC gloves could leach into the wearer's skin. "PVC is normally very rigid. This PVC is malleable, easy to mold. I was looking at whether the chemical that causes the plastic to be malleable could leach into the skin," he said.

He heated the gloves at standard temperatures, along with isopropyl alcohol, for a standard period of time. "Even at low temperatures significant leaching does occur," he said.

He said 40 per cent of the glove's mass was made up of this chemical, and 20 per cent of the gloves mass leached out when heated.

The health risks of the chemical had been documented by others, and his study was not about those risks, but whether the leaching could occur, Robert said.

Robert planned to study a Bachelor of Science in chemistry next year at Otago, hopefully with honours, and then get his PhD.

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- The Southland Times

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