NIWA Science Fair showcases next generation of scientists

Marian School students Clara McPhillps (left) and Sarah Hilton with their project 'Lip Balm Bugs'. Photo: Hill Laboratories

‘Go away big fellas’, ‘Taking the super out of super foods’ and ‘How safe is my drinking water’ were just three of over 350 projects entered into the NIWA Waikato Regional Science & Technology Fair held at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion on Friday 18 August.

Hill Laboratories has been a proud sponsor of this event for many years, this year sponsoring the Year 11-13 Senior Sciences section, as well as the Best Exhibit & Runner up across all Year 8 projects.

This year two enterprising students from Marian School used Hill Laboratories to help carry out the scientific experiment requirement of their project. Year 8 student Clara McPhillips and Year 7 student Sarah Hilton visited the Melville microbiology laboratory to test the aerobic plate count on two different lip balms they had been wearing for three weeks.

“The most interesting part for us was plating the lip balms and also finding out how much bacteria had grown. The chapstick grew way more, with a total of 620 colony forming units over three weeks.”

Students at Marian School had been working on the project since June, with Term 2 having a strong focus on science, according to the girls teacher Josh McCabe.

“We do our best to prepare the kids as much as possible for the science fair by conducting experiments in class, making observations, and looking over the criteria they’ll be judged on at the science fair. It’s also really important that they’re exposed to all four areas of the science curriculum - physical world, material world, planet earth and beyond, and living world.”

Marian School enters the fair every two years, with around 180 kids taking part this year. While a time consuming project for all involved, it’s been a great experience says McCabe, “they can really surprise you with the effort and quality of work on show.”

Shobna Ram, Microbiology Team Leader was really impressed by the students knowledge and enthusiasm. “They came well prepared and carried out all the testing themselves. It was good to see their passion for science.”

As for a future career in science, both girls aren’t ruling it out. Sarah was keen on a career as a bacteriologist, while Clara thought Law might be more her thing. “We both think we’ll continue with science at high school, and see what happens.”


Hill Laboratories staff member Jason Clague judging a student project. Photo: Hill Laboratories


Class 12: Year 11-13 Senior Sciences sponsored by Hill Laboratories

1st: Joseph Frengley, St Peters School - “Taking the super out of super foods”
2nd: Ben Prince, St Peters School - “Feeling stressed? You need to lighten up!”
3rd: Thomas Duncan, St Peters School - “Are you shore the coast is clear?”
Highly commended:
Adam Nachowitz, Hillcrest High School
Amy Sadler, St Peters School
Ilayda Erturk, St Peters School


Year 8 Major Awards presented by Hill Laboratories

Hill Laboratories trophy for Best Year 8 Exhibit: Georgia Moess, Cambridge Middle School - “Up, down and around”
Hill Laboratories trophy for Runner-Up Year 8 Exhibit: Nicholas Wood, Berkley Normal Middle School - “Antibiotics from Lichen”