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Students generate green solutions

Ashburton and Timaru students generate green solutions

Energy saving, in a variety of forms, was a popular theme among South Canterbury students who won Environment Canterbury prizes at this year’s Sanford Science and Technology Fair in Timaru.

Interestingly, the highest award went to a student who was encouraging people to use more energy - of the personal kind. Craighead School Year 7 student Bronte Davenport was encouraging her fellow pupils to burn up the calories by taking to their feet on walking school buses.

Eleven-year-old Bronte won ECan’s junior section award with her “Walk This Way” entry, in which she not only surveyed schools and parents about walking school buses, but designed her own version of a walking bus stop sign with information about “bus” times.

“My little brother Will uses a walking school bus to go to St Joseph’s and I knew that other students would have liked to use it too, only they didn’t know what routes it took or what time it left.”

Bronte also discovered that the walking bus concept seemed to be spread mostly by word of mouth and that parents believe the biggest benefit was children were getting more exercise

“I’d also noticed that you might have 10 cars parked outside a school with sometimes only one student in each. If all those children came to school on the walking bus that’s 10 fewer cars on the road.”

ECan’s Education for Sustainability team leader Sian Carvell said Bronte showed promising signs of an environmental scientist in the making. Her project also won three other first prizes, two second prizes and two highly commended awards at the fair

“It was a very well organised project but what was especially impressive was that it took the topic to a whole new level by trying to find solutions to why more families are not using the walking buses and how to implement these solutions.

“All the students put a lot of time and energy into their exhibits but next year we’d like to see more of the older students especially focusing on not just a problem or issue itself but what we can do to solve it,” said Sian Carvell.

Second prize in ECan’s junior awards went to Oakley Campbell. Oakley, 12, from Waihi School, researched how much bathroom product packaging a family generated each year and how this could be reduced.

Third prize was shared by Year 8 students Jacob Beeman and Lydia Oldfield. Jacob 11, of Ashburton Intermediate, wanted to see how quickly so-called biodegradable shopping bags broke down. Lydia Oldfield 12, a Year 8 student at Craighead, investigated if her home property was sufficiently windy to support a wind turbine.

Mountainview High School Year 9 student Sam Brosnahan, 14, was awarded a second prize in the Ecan senior section for his entry that compared the efficiency of solar and hydropower

Sam generated hydropower by pouring water over a mini turbine and compared the results with that of a solar panel.

“Solar power was much easier to set up and was more cost-effective.”

The project has had some immediate spin-offs in Sam’s family. His dad, who had been planning to install some solar systems at home, has been inspired by Sam’s results to carry out an even more comprehensive installation programme.


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