Genesis Energy
Royal Society of New Zealand

Participant Projects: 2009

View the Participant Projects Archive: Click on the links: (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

29 students from all over New Zealand have been selected to attend Realise the Dream 2009. They were selected from over 70 nominations from several educational programmes and competitions.

While the students are in Wellington they will be involved in visiting various science and technology organizations such as Industrial Research Ltd, GNS Science and the Island Bay Education Marine Centre. Massey University, Welllington Campus have organised a full day of workshops for the students which involve physiological profiling (sport and exercise science); Blood compositions and its importance; Building a robotic car to move and be directed by light; Motion analysis: using prototype motion analysis equipment to detect body movement; Impact of environmental and human health and building a steam engine which produces electricity. The participants will also go out on a field trip where geology will be studied and there will also be plenty of social activities.

All participants will give a two minute presentation to the judges about their project and then the judges will get the chance to ask the students questions.

Realise the Dream is also attended by five international students from Beijing and Chinese Taipei.

It is important to note that the project summaries below are purely just that, a small glimpse into what the students have researched or produced. All students have carried out a remarkable amount of research, some over a period of two years.

Students who have been selected from New Zealand are:

Morgan Archer (13) Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Wellington

Morgan Archer PROJECT TITLE: PEPPERMINT POWER

It's exam time and you wish you could concentrate better. It's time to go out on the football field and you need more energy and focus. Abandon the barley sugars and the chocolate - Morgan reckons sucking on a peppermint does the trick much better. Her careful tests on participants of different ages and each gender show that only peppermint provides a significant improvement in reaction times, particularly at the times of day when we are least alert - early morning, mid afternoon and late at night.

Zophia Arthur (12) Queen Margaret College, Wellington

Zophia Arthur PROJECT TITLE: NEED A BREAK: GET A WIND-BREAK

Wellington is windy, and global warming experts warn that before long we should expect even stronger winds and storms. Zophia's project investigates some of the different materials and designs for wind-breaks. She devised an experiment, with scaled down fences and a fan to create wind, and she monitored the disturbance to light objects on the downwind side of her fences. At the end of the day, it was not the solid wall nor the perforated fences that performed the best, but a flexible hedge that could absorb some of the energy of the wind. So, don't build fences - grow hedges.

Rebecca Bleackley (12) Monrad Intermediate School, Palmerston North

Rebecca Bleackley PROJECT TITLE: GOODNESS OF GREEN

As a person with gluten intolerance Rebecca wanted to make an ice cream which was able to be eaten by gluten-intolerant children. She wanted an ice cream which appealed to children, was healthy, and not too expensive. For her project she researched what was available, understood what ingredients could be used and considered how best to make a product which looked and tasted good to gluten-intolerant people. She set about making three different recipes of ice cream and then enlisted the help of three gluten-intolerant students to test her product. These students were asked to sample her ice creams and rank them. Her project showed thoroughness in each aspect of a good technology project. The final product, a green healthy ice cream that looked and tasted delicious!

Matthew Chard (11) Palmerston North Intermediate School, Palmerston North

Matthew Chard PROJECT TITLE: ARCHER'S PARADOX

Matthew's family are actively involved in the sport of archery, and Matthew took up the sport from the tender age of five years. It was during this activity that he became intrigued by his grandfather's comment that not all arrows suited his English longbow and he also noted that most archers always used the same arrows. This got Matthew wondering why. Matthew clearly outlined the history of longbow archery and explained why it played such an important role in battles in medieval England. Matthew presented his objective clearly and succinctly. He clearly shows from the replicated results that contrary to his initial hypothesis, physical characteristics and particularly the flexibility of the arrow, were at least as important in hitting the target as was the archer's prowess with the bow.

Emma Clucas (11) Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Emma ClucasPROJECT TITLE: WATER-LESS WASHING MACHINE

Economising on domestic water use is a big issue around the world, with environmental and financial implications. Emma thought hard about this and decided there was an opportunity for big water savings with washing machines. She found that the final rinse water was very clean - clean enough to be reused for the first rinse of the next load. Emma designed and tested a model system that could be added to standard washing machines to recycle the rinse water. This could cut down the amount of water used by these machines by roughly half.

Nathan Denmead (17) Waimea College, Nelson

Nathan Denmead PROJECT TITLE: THE SCIENCE OF STIRLING ENGINES

The strength of Nathan's project lies in the fact that he built a working model of a Stirling engine, and tested the response of the engine to variation in temperature. The project also has a technology element because the model engine was for use as a teaching aid. The Stirling engine operates on an ingenious heat transfer principle. An enclosed body of gas is alternately heated in a hot chamber to expand, then moved to a cold chamber to contract, in this way driving a piston, which can then be connected to a flywheel and mechanical energy extracted. The fascination of the Stirling engine lies in how the gas is moved between hot and cold chambers and its simplicity and versatility.

Liam Ellis (18) Hutt Valley High School, Lower Hutt

Liam Ellis PROJECT TITLE: AVERT

Back pain is a common issue in Liam's family due to bad posture. By finding a solution to this problem Liam felt he could help prevent back pain caused by everyday activity. Starting with some precision-stamped aluminium links (donated by A E Tilley Ltd), Liam manufactured the chain-like structure that represents the human spine. Potentiometers at the position of each vertebrae were the sensors that fed the voltage levels that communicated position back to the microprocessor at the heart of the 'smarts'. Liam has sewn the unit into a Skins garment (donated by Brandex Adventure Sports), which allows a snug fit of the unit to the body. Set to a user's 'ideal' posture, an alarm unit worn on the belt alerts one to problems as soon as they occur. Liam has also created a file that can be read to a Visual Basic window on a PC to display the actual real-time curvature of your spine.

Logan Glasson (13) Burnside High School, Christchurch

Logan Glasson PROJECT TITLE: SPINNING LED DISPLAY

After seeing LED message fans in shops, Logan was challenged by his dad to make a better version. He could see that the existing versions only display text, and that text is in a circle. He also wanted to be able to display good quality square images like squares, lines, text, or pictures. To achieve his aim, Logan had to source a fast enough chip (the AT Tiny), then learn C programming language and some basic skills on an engineering lathe. With the right trigonometric equations built into the software, Logan is now able to create an image in MS Paint and drop the bitmap file into chips, which then control the pattern and timing of his LED displays. This creates some pretty amazing effects in mid-air!

Kevin Huang (17) Mount Roskill Grammar School, Auckland

Kevin Huang PROJECT TITLE: REMOTE CONTROL LAWN MOWER

Mowing the lawn is not easy for old people like Kevin's grandparents, so he decided to solve their problem. Kevin has designed and built a fully functional remote-controlled battery powered lawn mower that works perfectly and has inbuilt safety features, such as automatic shut-down. He had to search far and wide for suitable radio chip modules that could operate under electrically 'noisy' conditions over the required range, and he faced mechanical, electronics and programming hurdles in getting all the technologies to work together smoothly. Car windscreen-wiper motors were adapted to the critical steering job and integrated with the drive train. Kevin showed considerable imagination in obtaining sponsorship (including a personal cheque from PM John Key) and determination in completing this difficult challenge.

Abhilash Kamineni (17) Mount Roskill Grammar School, Auckland

Abhilash Kamineni PROJECT TITLE: NSR TRANSFER

Flash drives are becoming more and more popular and it's really annoying having to find a computer to transfer files between people, so Abhilash decided to make a device which allows for file transfer without the need for a computer. Specialised VDIP modules are used to read to and from the files on the USB flash drives to memory. The stored files can be accessed through a colour touch-screen that you can call up and use to transfer individual files. Abhilash faced and overcame many electronics and software challenges in this demanding project, which is a new and unique application. Now he and his friends (and the world!) can swap their favourite music and other files in any place where it's not easy to plug into a PC

Matt Kerr (13) Kamo Intermediate School, Whangarei

Matt Kerr PROJECT TITLE: S.O.S. SAVE OUR SANDS

The strength of Matt's project lies in the fact that he arranged for formal testing of the strength of concrete samples made from different types of sand and demonstrated understanding and correct use of units such as megapascals (MPa), which are not part of everyday language at school! The use of differing raw materials led to a tenfold difference in the strength of concrete made from them. The combination of this investigation with an environmental theme looking at the possibility of substituting recycled materials for mined beach and river sands also appealed to the judges.

Mitchell Lowe (12) Taradale Intermediate School, Hawke's Bay

Mitchell Lowe PROJECT TITLE: SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE - A STUDY OF DYNAMICS

How does the height of a building affect its stability in an earthquake? Are tall buildings necessarily the most likely to collapse in major earthquakes? To investigate these questions, Mitchell built a shaking table to simulate the effects of earthquakes using model buildings. His meticulous experiments and background research showed that many structural factors can prolong the ability of tall buildings to absorb the energy provided by lateral shaking.

Nikhil Mahashabde (17) Mount Roskill Grammar School, Auckland

Nikhil Mahashabde PROJECT TITLE: THE SPYNIK

Nikhil's technology studies main client told him how she had no idea about how to stop her children looking at all sorts of website and asked him for a solution to a problem he initially thought was impossible to crack. Nikhil has definitely 'cracked' this one: with a dedicated website his clients can log into and monitor what is going on in any computer the little box of electronic tricks is plugged into from anywhere in the world. This unit controls the electronics and stores the history of the web pages that the user has visited. Not only that, the client can cut the internet (and re-connect it) to the remote computer at will. At the heart of Nikhil's box of tricks is a web-server module (The Wiznet) and a powerful microcontroller, the AtMega32. Nikhil has designed the board, connected the electronics and written the code to allow it to communicate with the computer and remote client.

Sienna Mark-Brown (12) Ponsonby Intermediate School, Auckland

Sienna Mark-Brown PROJECT TITLE: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT ... OR DOES IT?

Sienna was fascinated by recent suggestions that in humans mental "practice" of an action can be just as effective as physical practice. She set out to test this with students learning a physical skill - how to score a goal in soccer! The difficulties of such experiments are considerable, and Sienna did a noteworthy job designing and executing an experiment that does offer support to the idea that "visualisation" of an action really helps you to achieve it.

Corinne Marti (18) Kerikeri High School, Kerikeri

Corinne Marti PROJECT TITLE: THE EFFECT OF SALINITY ON TRANSPIRATION RATES

The strength of Corrine's project was the integrative thinking relating to the way plant environment, and in particular exposure to salinity, would affect transpiration (i.e. water flow through the leaves). Corrine researched the mechanisms that mangrove species use to combat salinity ,and formed a hypothesis that mangroves growing in more salty water would experience an inhibition of transpiration. She collected samples of mangroves from different sites in the Bay of Islands and measured both the salt content of the water at each site and the transpiration rate of mangrove branches collected there. Mangroves at an upriver site where water was less salty had a higher rate of transpiration than mangroves nearer the river mouth.

Jake Martin (18) Cambridge High School, Waikato

Jake Martin PROJECT TITLE: MAGNETIC BIOCARBON

Magnetic charcoal: yeah right! Jake couldn't believe it when he found that charcoal produced by the gasifier he built for his 2008 Realise the Dream project was attracted to a magnet. Jake confirmed that the magnetism in his charcoal was not from iron contamination and determined that the charcoal was paramagnetic: magnetic properties are only exhibited in the presence of another magnet. With help from staff at Waikato University, he used mass spectrometry and electron spin resonance data to demonstrate differences between paramagnetic and non-magnetic charcoal and to formulate a hypothesis about the molecular structure responsible for the magnetism. The hypothesis requires further testing for confirmation or rejection but was seen as plausible by a university professor who evaluated it.

Hannah Ng (15) St Cuthbert's College, Auckland

Hannah Ng PROJECT TITLE: STOP SHORT-SIGHT WITH SUNLIGHT

From her initial research Hannah wondered if students not involved in outdoor activities were more likely to develop short-sightedness. Her investigation involved the selection and survey of a small sample of students of a similar age over a 3 month period. During some of this time Hannah asked the participating students to wear a light meter to record the amount of light to which they were exposed. Eyeball measurements were taken at the beginning and the end of the project under the supervision of an optometrist. To be able to do this Hannah needed to work with quite technical equipment which required drops to be added to the eye. Hannah needed to obtain both ethics and parental permission and to consider the health of the participants in this trial. Hannah's project was well researched, her report extremely well written and her statistical processes applied with thoroughness.

Anya Noble (15) Waikato Diocesan School, Hamilton

Anya Noble PROJECT TITLE: PONY TAILS

Anya Noble has two passions, her beloved horses and the violin. What better way to combine them than look at the effect of the colour of horse hair on the quality of the product for the violin bow. Anya determined that friction of the hair is vital to the musician. She designed and built a device that allowed her to determine the friction of a range of hair colours, and her extensive results were very reliable. Anya then supported her trials with microscopic analysis and was able to discuss her results, concluding that white hair was the most effective because of the number of hooks and scales.

Jeremy Penrose (11) Cobham Intermediate School, Christchurch

Jeremy Penrose PROJECT TITLE: "WATTS" IN OUR WASTE WATER?

Ever stood in the shower or pulled the bath plug and thought "What a waste of hot water?" Jeremy did, and decided to find out how much heat energy is "wasted" in this way. He measured the temperature of water entering the house. Then, over 14 days, he measured (every second for 24 hours a day) the water leaving his house with electronic flow meters and thermometers connected to a datalogger. Before he could analyse the over 60,000 lines of logged data, he needed to work out and then verify a formula to convert the volume and temperature readings per second into kWhs. His results suggest that if they could recover the extra heat energy lost due to the outflow being warmer than the 12C water coming in, then the household could save up to $253 per year. Given the level of savings, he concluded that the installation of a domestic waste water heat recovery system was not economically viable for his home.

Josh Rippin (12) Wellesley College, Wellington

Josh Rippin PROJECT TITLE: CHILDREN AS EYEWITNESSES; IS IT REALLY BLINK AND FORGET?

How good is your memory? Would you make a good witness? Josh and his sister were witnesses to a crime at a large Wellington store, but when interviewed by the police they remembered events quite differently. Josh has investigated how children might be trained to become more observant and better eyewitnesses. He showed that with a simple training programme, which he devised and tested himself, both boys and girls could become much more reliable eyewitnesses.

Stanley Roache (18) Onslow College, Wellington

Stanley RoachePROJECT TITLE: OPTICAL TUBE

Stanley was a leading member of New Zealand's medal-winning team at the International Young Physicists Tournament in China this year. He is fascinated by the physics of light and weird optical effects. Try looking down a metal tube that is shiny on the inside, and you'll see what captivated Stanley's curiosity: a whole series of nested rings and bands. Starting from school physics and maths, Stanley has gone many extra miles to explain and accurately model this effect. His integration of theory, experimentation and computer programming is a truly impressive achievement.

Nicole Steele (18) Morrinsville College, Waikato

Nicole Steele PROJECT TITLE: TREAT THEM TO KEEP THEM

Mastitis is an ongoing issue in dairy herds with significant impact on milk quality, cow health and lost production. Using cell counts in milk, Nicole identified 92 cows with sub-clinical mastitis, and a trial conducted to determine the efficacy of the drug Mamyzin for mastitis control. The cure rate was 16% without treatment and 56% after six treatments. Bacterial strains isolated from infected cows were evaluated for drug resistance. DNA was extracted and amplified using polymerase chain reaction techniques (PCR) to test for a gene that breaks down penicillin. Only two of 60 strains tested possessed the gene, but 24 strains exhibited growth in the presence of penicillin, indicating a different resistance mechanism. This result was unexpected.

Samantha Stevenson (17) Kerikeri High School, Kerikeri

Samantha Stevenson PROJECT TITLE: THE EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE ON THE FEEDING RATE OF BEES

Samantha's father is a beekeeper who exports queen bees. For bees to arrive at their destination in good condition, it is important to know the ideal temperature for transport and the amount of food required for the journey, as a standard bee cage has limited space and starvation can occur. Samantha's project is notable for the thoroughness of the background research into how bees control temperature in the hive, and the sound logical deductions in applying this information to understand the issues when bees are transported. Samantha's work shows that food consumption of bees would be halved if they were transported at 27oC rather than 20oC, but that they would not survive at 35oC, the temperature mentioned by text books as ideal for bees, because they would suffer dehydration.

Zeb Thys (13) James Hargest College, Invercargill

Zeb Thys PROJECT TITLE: HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO FOR YOUR MAIL?

Zeb's Mum doesn't like having to lean out of her car window and stretch to get the mail from the back of the mailbox in the pouring rain. Like all good sons Zeb decided to help out. He designed, built, and tested four ingenious devices that would deliver the post to the front of the mailbox as the box is opened. His final product sacrifices a bit of space in the mailbox but gives all the functionality that his Mum needs.

Thang Tran (18) Wellington College, Wellington

Thang Tran PROJECT TITLE: INVESTIGATION OF THE EFFECTS OF TEMPTERATURE ON VITAMIN C

Do you store orange juice in the fridge? In the course of his initial studies, Thang discovered that either heating or cooling would speed up the decomposition of vitamin C. Intrigued by his findings, he set out to investigate further. Thang loves chemistry - while his mates were out relaxing, he spent hours in the lab meticulously titrating juice with thiosulfate and iodine solution, repeating every measurement till he was satisfied with his results. Yes, for maximum vitamin C, keep your juice at room temperature (and think whether you should be cooking your broccoli).

Rebecca van Rooyen (18) Morrinsville College, Waikato

Rebecca van Rooyen PROJECT TITLE: AGILE ATHLETES

Agility, or ability to change direction at speed, is an important skill for a netballer to develop. A combination of video and light gates to analyze the biomechanics of the technical agility (turn and sprint) of netball players was devised. Then an agility-specific training program was developed. The technologies were next tested in a trial. After 6 weeks, total sprint times of a training group were faster by 0.14 0.1 seconds (P< 0.001) while their change of direction times were faster by 0.12 0.03 seconds (P< 0.001). Meanwhile, a control group showed no significant change. Netball agility can be improved and measured.

Zoe Woodfield (11) Palmerston North Intermediate School, Palmerston North

Zoe Woodfield PROJECT TITLE: WONDERWOOL

Zoe Woodfield's project was a clever integration of two concerns: what to do with coarse wool and erosion on land cleared during major engineering works. Her ideas may also be applicable to control of hill country erosion. The effects of rain and wind make it difficult to establish grass varieties on exposed slopes. Zoe's investigation looked at if a thin wool mat could aid germination of two grass species and whether the mat would ensure a more even distribution of seed on the slope. Zoe designed a series of complex trials and was meticulous in her data collection and processing. Her findings were that a wool mat not only improves growth on slopes but is an aid to reduce soil loss and clumping of seeds.

Gavin Wolfe (17) & Kelly Wolfe (15) Morrinsville College, Waikato

Gavin Wolfe and Kelly Wolfe PROJECT TITLE: BULL PULL

2000 bulls on a swampy bull-leasing farm near Morrinsville create a big problem at times. Close to 60 bulls a year fall into ditches, often when fighting. Removal from the ditch by traditional means single chain around the neck, fastened with a snig hook is dangerous to both the bull and the farmer. This simple yet unique device developed few years ago, has safely returned some 300 bulls to their herd. "Bull Pull" is easily fastened, tightens around the neck automatically and is easily released from the safety of the tractor. Farmer groups have shown huge interest this year at field days and after television exposure.