Schoolgirl gets Harvard backing

18:54, Nov 14 2012
Estelle Arundell
BIRD IN THE HAND: Craighead Diocesan student Estelle Arundell, 15, displays the Wrybill Environment Canterbury Award for resource management she won.

A Timaru student's science fair project has so impressed a Harvard Professor he has offered his help.

Craighead Diocesan's Estelle Arundell won the Environment Canterbury Wrybill Trophy, the top award in the years 8 to 13 group from all the Canterbury schools' science and technology fairs.

The Year 10 student's project involved ways to increase your "carbon handprint"- a concept the inverse of the "carbon footprint".

"The carbon footprint is a negative concept, as it measures how much we are emitting," she said.

"This is a positive idea. It's about the emissions you can save, and the simple things you can do to help the environment."

Estelle said it was still quite a new concept, but her work has even impressed Harvard School of Public Health's Professor Gregory Norris, the man who first proposed the "carbon handprint".


"He's heard about my science fair project, and he's offered to help me develop it. I'll be providing information for their website," Estelle said.

She said she would start working with Prof Norris at the end of the school year - their communication would be via email or online.

"I'm really stoked. It's cool he's offered," Estelle said.

Estelle said people could gain a positive carbon handprint from tasks as simple as turning off lights, conserving water, or carpooling to school.

"I learnt about it from a Time magazine article. I've been to the website, and I want to develop a carbon handprint app that is appropriate for teenagers," she said.

She has already given a presentation to the local Transition Timaru organisation, which was interested in using her research.

Craighead Diocesan science and biology teacher Julie McLean said the standard of the science fair entries was really high.

"Estelle's project showed a lot of imagination," Mrs McLean said. "It's a project that can be developed over time, and it's not often you get to talk to the original person behind the idea."

Lincoln University Professor Jon Hickford was the chief judge for this year's Wrybill Award, and the three finalists each presented their work to ECan commissioners and staff.

The other two finalists were Emma Jansen, of Hinds School, and Lorna Pairman, of Cashmere Primary.

The Timaru Herald