NIWA Wellington Science Fair

By Aaron Small 03/09/2009

Last week Victoria University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences hosted the NIWA Wellington Regional Science Fair. Last year I was honoured to be asked to judge the chemistry prize for this competition and it was inspiring to see so many young people interested in talking about science and in particular what they had done in their projects. It certainly took me back to the days of making lemon batteries or erupting volcanoes in my primary school days!

The top prizewinners this year were:

  • Zofia Arthur, for her work researching the most effective windbreaks (in which she found trees and shrubs were the most effective in comparison to perforated metal and solid walls);
  • Thang Tran, for his meticulous analysis in finding that juice stored at temperatures too high and too low will have lower levels of vitamin C, and;
  • Nika Thomson, who found that exercise does significantly improve the blood sugar levels of type 1 Diabetics.

Most of these students will be entering university in the next few years, and so the challenge now is making sure these young minds continue their scientific careers. How that can be done effectively with the mulitude of career options open to students at this stage, I do not know. One thing I do think we need to do though, is celebrate and publicize great scientific work, just as the NIWA Science Fair does. Who know’s? Perhaps one of these students could be the next MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year, Bayer Innovator of the Year, or even a Nobel Prizewinner. Only by celebrating and talking about these achievements (and science in general) will young students become aware of the many wonderful career options open to them in science.