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Students plot to reduce use of electricity

September 8, 2008

Students plot to reduce extravagant use of electricity and get you out of the shower faster.

The past winter’s low lake levels and encouragement to save power had direct relevance to two of the winners in Environment Canterbury’s section of the 2008 Lincoln University Schools’ Science and Technology Fair (Canterbury-Westland).

Top junior ECan prize winner is Katie Glasson, 12, of Cobham Intermediate. Katie made up a list of all electricity-consuming items in her home, divided them into essential, comfort, luxury and extravagance items. She then surveyed 23 families to see which things they would turn off if they had to. The extravagant and luxury categories most people would turn off, Katie said. These might include heating in bathrooms and bedrooms or a swimming pool heater in summer. “As a country we could save 21 million units of electricity a year,” Katie said.” If we all agreed to switch off luxury and extravagant uses of power.”

Emil Martin, 16, of Lincoln High School, designed a simple, not unattractive shower box attachment, which you programme to switch off the water after a certain number of minutes. “It would save water and power,” Emil, a year 12 student said. He knew there would be some people keen on the idea, based on his own family’s experience of teenagers taking nice, long, expensive showers.

But he also surveyed other people to see if they’d be interested in installing a “Shower Boss.” Tellingly it was the families (mums and dads) who thought it was a great idea. The couples and singletons were not so keen on it. He estimates the unit would cost around $140 to assemble and self-install, but that cost could be massively reduced if made commercially.

The second equal top winner of the ECan senior section was Brad Parker, 13, also of Lincoln High School. The year nine student tested several different re-usable supermarket produce bags and came up with a model that is lightweight, allows the checkout operator to view the contents, is cheap, strong and washes well. The 50 per cent polyester and 50 per cent cotton bags also got his parents endorsement – they run a supermarket in Bishopdale.

The junior (year 7 and 8) second prize went to Logan Glasson of Westburn School for a pest trap monitor which would tell you when you needed to empty your pest traps. The third equal prizes went to Vincent Curd, who found evidence of acid rain around Christchurch and Vinura Karunasekera, who looked at the grasses which grow best in a climate change scenario. Vinura also won a prize last year from ECan. Both pupils attend Cobham Intermediate.

Sir Kerry Burke, ECan chairman, presented the Environment Canterbury awards to these students Sunday night September 7, in the Christchurch Town Hall. People can have a look at all the exhibits this afternoon Monday September 8, 9 am to 4 pm, ground floor Convention Centre, for a gold coin donation.


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