Judges amazed at standard of projects

Sunspots, alcohol and lasers are all in the sights of Waikato students at the Niwa science fair. Libby Wilson reports. 

How to store cupcakes, the best spray-on deodorant and a way to freeze alcohol into "party cubes" are among the investigations of Waikato students.

The Niwa Waikato Science and Technology Fair began yesterday, when several hundred students arrived at the Hamilton Gardens with their exhibits, innovations, wall charts, videos and photography.

Students involved ranged from year 7 to year 13 and came from schools throughout the region.

For 12-year-old Hannah Bradshaw, inspiration came from a unit on space at Hautapu School.

"I aimed to prove that there was a relationship between the number of sunspots on the surface of the sun and small deflections in the Earth's magnetic field," she said.

A sunspot is a site where strong magnetic fields generated deep within the sun are breaking through to the visible surface.

Using her "magnetometer" she found a link, but with a 24-hour delay.

At first her experiment was thwarted by a car within the magnet's field, but take two was more conclusive.

Fruit was the focus for St Peter's School Cambridge Year 9s Keruma Gibson and Elizabeth Liu, both 13.

They checked out the vitamin C, glucose and pH levels of several fruit - initially with the aim of seeing if there was a relationship between the three.

But there wasn't, "so we changed it all in the holidays", Elizabeth said.

Instead, they measured each piece of fruit for each of the three factors and recorded the results, which they said could help those with dietary needs.

Other projects looked into which alcoholic beverages froze fastest, whether Anchor's light-proof bottles were effective, the best in-line hockey tape and how best to store cupcakes and olive oil.

And an innovation using a laser to mark a line so students can cut straighter was the work of 11-year-olds Samuel Wilde and Troy White.

"I was cutting at school and I messed up, and then I just had this vision in my mind," Troy said.

The Hautapu School students quickly realised mounting the laser on scissors wouldn't result in a straight line.

They tried some wooden prototypes, but they were "too bulky and not portable," Samuel said, so they mounted a laser pointer on a mini tripod.

The standard of work was high, chief judge Dr Liz Carpenter of Dairy Goat Co-operative NZ Ltd said.

"I've had at least five or six [judges] come to me saying they've just spotted an astounding project," she said.

"There's just so much excitement from the students . . . We're just seeing the very end result here of weeks of work."

She acknowledged the way teachers and families had supported students.

Public viewing continues today at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, from 9am-2pm. Entry is free.

Winners will be announced at a prizegiving at the University of Waikato on Tuesday night, including best in fair, worth $800.


Waikato Times