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Wellington Science Fair Overcomes COVID-19 Challenges

Running a science fair in the middle of a global pandemic is no mean feat.

Just ask the organisers of the Wellington Science Fair.

This morning, the winners of the fair were announced after a ‘virtual’ fair was run instead of the usual in-person fair due to restrictions associated with COVID-19 alert level 2.

Participating students created presentations and videos for their projects and then uploaded them online for the judging panel to review.

Christine Boulton, the Chair of the Organising Committee, congratulated the participants on persevering under such difficult circumstances to produce their projects. 

“More than anytime in living memory, people are turning to science to provide solutions to the challenges posed by COVID-19. This makes the 2020 Science Fair particularly important.”

An investigation involving sound, some complicated physics and a plastic tube won the NIWA best in the fair award.

Lydia Acton, a Year 13 student from Wellington High School investigated the oscillations in the sounds produced from whirling a corrugated plastic tube – sometimes called a sound hose. 

As well as netting $1000 in prize money, Lydia also won the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Science Innovation Prize – a $4000 scholarship for study expenses for a Victoria University of Wellington undergraduate degree in science or engineering.

Sophie Hayes, a Year 9 student from Wellington Girls’ College, won the $500 Royal Society of New Zealand Wellington Branch prize for the runner-up best overall exhibit with her project: “Would you exercise to tell the time?”. 

She built an innovative mechanism that can power a smart watch without taking it off to charge it.

Sophie also won an iPad as part of the the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Science Prize.

In total, almost 230 intermediate and secondary school students entered the fair. 

Chief Judge Bradley Douglass says there was high level of science in this years fair. 

“Although the number of entrants was reduced from previous years’, the quality of the investigations and projects was excellent, and as usual the judges had a difficult time deciding on both the Class and overall winners.”

Each of the prize-winning projects can be viewed on the Wellington Science Fair Website:

Providing major sponsorship for many of the science fairs throughout New Zealand is part of NIWA’s long-term commitment to enhancing science and technology for young New Zealanders.

NIWA is also a major sponsor of the Auckland City, South & East Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury-Westland and Waikato Science and Technology Fairs.

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