Science Fair Buzzing With Ideas

More than 200 students from 14 Northland secondary schools participated in the Top Energy North Science and Technology Fair in Kerikeri.

Among the raft of science and technology exhibits on display at the Turner Centre were several projects relating to apiculture, honey and health and wellbeing.

Springbank School student, Ishmael Strevens, developed a solar powered fan which he placed in the base of a beehive to cool it when it reached 24°C or higher. Ishmael, who won the Top Energy Premiere Junior Project Prize – concluded that by removing the need for bees to cool the hives themselves (by fanning their wings), the bees were free to produce more honey – in some cases up to 55% more over the course of his experiment.

Kerikeri High School student, Josefina Pantano, investigated how high grade Manuka honey can help extend the shelf life of healthy snack bars given its antibacterial properties. Josefina won one of two Comvita NZ Outstanding Senior Project Awards for her ‘Nice Bars’ exhibit.

The second Comvita NZ Outstanding Senior Project Award winner was Sophie Coleman from Kerikeri High School. Sophie examined the effects of different foods on people’s blood glucose levels, and their physiological responses to those food types. The depth of Sophie’s project was comprehensive enough for the local medical doctors to ask to display her findings in their clinic.

There were three Comvita prizes up for grabs for students who completed science and / or technology projects relating to apiculture, honey or health and wellbeing: Comvita NZ Outstanding Senior Project Award: Josefina Pantano, Kerikeri High School – Nice Bars.

Comvita NZ Outstanding Senior Project Award: Sophie Coleman, Kerikeri High School – Glucose for 2.

Comvita NZ Gold Senior Project Award: Courtney Armstrong, Kerikeri High School – When life gives you lemons, add honey.

Russell School’s Alan Norman and Te Ururoa Snowden explored whether coloured sugar water – fed to bees over winter – was more desirable than traditional sugar water. The duo trialed five colours; blue, red, green, yellow and transparent, and found the bees clearly consumed more blue water than the other colour liquids. Red was the least consumed sugar water.

Top Energy Far North Science and Technology Fair Chief Judge, Julie Harrisson, said the judging panel was impressed by the range and depth of this year’s projects, and the passion and confidence of the students involved. “Many projects were on an environmental or health related topic, including one which compared the antibacterial properties of honey to its shelf life. The Top Energy Premier Senior Project Award winner, Jamie Struthers from Kerikeri College, presented a detailed investigation into the allelopathic properties of totara extract,” said Ms Harrisson.

Comvita General Manager Apiaries, Trevor Clarke, said Comvita is proud of its association with the Top Energy Far North Science and Technology Fair. “Science and Technology can open so many doors for young people into desirable careers. I would definitely encourage those who have keen interest and talent in these areas to continue to follow their passion.” “The standard of entries I reviewed at this year’s fair were extremely high, and a number of exhibits could even be commercially viable from a business perspective. Congratulations to all the students who submitted projects, you can be very proud of your understanding of science and technology, and applying innovative thinking to solve real life business problems,” said Mr Clarke.

The Top Energy Far North Science Fair was held at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri from Wednesday 30 August to Friday 1 September.

Comvita was a premier event and prize sponsor of the fair.