NIWA Manukau Science Fair

2015 NIWA Manukau Science Fair, 18 July – 11 Aug

Recognising children as future leaders of science and technology is the main objective of NIWA’s sponsorship of the Manukau Science and Technology Fair. At this year’s event children in well-presented school uniforms and neat hairstyles, rather than the stereotypical scientist of past years, predominated. It was also noted that more than half of the award winners were girls, a large increase from previous years.

In her introductory speech, convenor Catherine Hunter, suggested it was encouraging to see so many students dissolving the stereotype, “proving that just because you are young doesn’t mean you aren’t a forward-thinking scientist.”

The guest speaker, Jake Barton, a former science fair winner who now works as a scientist at Auckland University was instrumental in setting up the Science Scholars Programme. The object of this scholarship is to encourage students to do science at university. He told the students that the most important thing was to be creative and to “learn to discern between science and pseudo-science” – describing his first science fair entry as an ‘electrolysis bomb’.  After nearly destroying his parent’s garage he took away a category prize. Following a less successful project the next year he was lucky enough to be mentored by a plasma physicist teacher who saw his potential. As a result of his success in the Realise the Dream National Science Fair, which was last held in 2014, he has been able to travel the world with science.

The Manukau event had almost 200 projects presented for judging this year, representing eighteen schools in the South Auckland area. The diversity of topics in each category ranged from environmental studies to many angles on food and innovative technology.

Brad Kroef and Logan Brown’s “Get a Grip” won the Eric Clague award, valued at $500 and presented by the Kiwanis Clubs of Counties Manukau, as well as the Best Application of the Scientific Method award, sponsored by the University of Otago and the Years 9 & 10 Living World category prize.

The overall winner, Ethan McCormick, whose “Mangemangeroa Medical” project also gained recognition in the New Zealand Heritage Award sponsored by NIWA as well as first place in the Year 7 & 8 category Environmental Science/Planet Earth and Beyond.  This category was sponsored by the Papatoetoe Kiwanis Club which has a long history of science fair involvement. Ethan’s project was outstanding, considering the competition he had from much older students.

All of the competitors were told they should feel proud of what they have accomplished at such a young age, with judges commenting on the high calibre of projects and the personalised scientific questions and technological designs.

As with every science fair a team of dedicated committee members were busy behind the scenes for many months putting the science fair together. Without the dedication of these volunteers the annual science fair event would not be possible.

Whilst all of the South Auckland Kiwanis clubs have supported this science fair for many years the Kiwanis Club of Papatoetoe especially has had a long involvement in the running of the event. In recognition of his long service on the science fair committee, Papatotetoe club member John Bell, has donated an annual award to be given to a deserving committee member. This year the award was won by fellow Papatoetoe Kiwanis member, Beryl McKinnell.

Students entering the NIWA Manukau Science Fair can choose from these categories

1.  Years 7 & 8 Living World

2.  Years 7 & 8 Physical and Material World

3.  Years 7 & 8 Environmental Science/Planet Earth & Beyond

4.  Years 7 & 8 Intermediate Consumer Science

5.  Years 7 – 10 Technology / Innovations

6.  Years 9 & 10 Living World

7.  Years 9 & 10 Physical & Material World

8.  Years 9 & 10 Environmental Science/Planet Earth & Beyond

9.   Years 9 – 13 Secondary Consumer Science

10.  Years 7 – 13 Scientific Photography

11.  Years 11,12 & 13 Senior Science

Judges base their decisions on these criteria

  • scientific thought and understanding 
  • originality – thoroughness and effort 
  • technical and graphic skill 
  • presentation

Displays must be freestanding and no larger than the dimensions listed below. Ideal materials for the freestanding display are cardboard, corflute, acrylic or light wood hinged with tape. The final display should fold flat and be easily transportable. HEIGHT – LESS THAN 1 METRE; DEPTH – LESS THAN 0.7 METRES; WIDTH – LESS THAN 1.2 METRES (when erected).  Exhibits may not be accepted if they are oversized, unsafe or without a human ethics or animal ethics approval form where applicable. The Science and Technology Fair Committee is not responsible for delicate or expensive equipment used in any displays.

Major Awards

Premier Award The winner will receive a cash award of $1000, and if intending to study at MIT there may be the possibility of a scholarship for one year. This award is sponsored  by NIWA.

The runner up will receive the Eric Clague Award valued at $500, sponsored by the Kiwanis Clubs of Counties Manukau.

Best Application of the Scientifc Method, sponsored by the University of Otago The chance to attend an  Otago University Summer Science School programme.

New Zealand Heritage Award sponsored by NIWA.

Prizes for the Best Year award, sponsored by NIWA.

Best Application of Electronics, sponsored by NIWA.

The Environment Award, sponsored by NIWA.

Auckland Science Teachers Association, sponsored School Encouragement Award  To encourage  and support a school in developing its own science and technology fair. 

Best Application of Electronics, sponsored by Manukau Institute of Technology.

Auckland Transport Travelwise Award, sponsored by Auckland Transport.

Best Use of Flour Award, sponsored by the Baking Industry Research Trust.

Best Use of Statistics Award, sponsored by the New Zealand Statistical Association.