Bright sparks celebrated at Eureka Awards

Issue: Volume 95, Number 18

Posted: 10 October 2016
Reference #: 1H9d4m

The prestigious Sir Paul Callaghan EUREKA! Premier Award was this year won by a Wellington student with a vision for algae.

Year 12 student Andrew Tang won the $10,000 Premier Award for his 12-minute presentation ‘Algae as biofuel’ in this year’s Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka Award.

Andrew’s proposal to revitalise New Zealand with a sustainable algae industry won over the five-judge panel, and involves biofuel, coastlines and Japanese origami techniques.

“I am really passionate about science,” Andrew told The Wellingtonian newspaper, “and Eureka really provides a platform to share ideas.”

Last year Andrew won a Highly Commended Award. He was one of six secondary school and six university students chosen as finalists for this year’s awards.

Andrew repeats the effort of Jennifer Palmer from Orewa College in 2015 and is the second secondary school student to win the award.

The Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka Awards pit secondary school students and university undergraduate students against each other to present the most compelling case for the application of science or technology to the social, economic or environmental benefit of New Zealand.

“Andrew’s victory is fantastic recognition for his hard work and that of his teachers,” says Eureka Trust chairperson Dr Russ Ballard. “It shows what our students and our schools are capable of.”

His achievement has been noted widely in the Wellington business community, and in addition to this honour, he embarked on a tour of Silicon Valley in San Francisco shortly afterward, to visit tech companies Google and Facebook as part of the Young Enterprise Trust.

The awards recognise excellence in communication about science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the winners were announced at a dinner hosted by Education Minister Hon Hekia Parata in the Grand Hall of Parliament in early September.

Andrew Tang is the second student from Scots College to win the Premier Award – he follows in the footsteps of Evan Brenton-Rule who won in 2013 and who is now studying for his PhD at Victoria University.

Other award winners

The highly commended award winners who received $5,000 each were:

  • Shalini Guleria, University of Waikato, for ‘Struvite crystallisation’
  • Richard Todd, the University of Auckland, for ‘Subcritical water extraction of antioxidants from food and food by-products’
  • Dana Lawson, Orewa College, for ’Mind over matter – the placebo and nocebo effect’.

The Ministry of Education Gold Scholarship for the best presentation by a Māori secondary school student went to Hana Te Puni, from Palmerston North Girls’ High School for her presentation entitled ‘Holistic restoration: The way of the future’.

The Ministry of Education Gold Scholarship for the best presentation by a Pasifika secondary school student went to Alexia Hilbertidou from Albany Senior High School for her talk ‘GirlBoss NZ’. Alexia also won the Treasury Gold Scholarship for her presentation.

Fostering young science communicators

The mission of the Eureka Trust is to “identify and foster young leaders who through their knowledge of science, technology, engineering or mathematics, their entrepreneurial drive and persuasive communication skills will bring about the vision of New Zealand as foreseen by Sir Paul Callaghan”.

The Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka Awards comprise of a STEM-focused speech competition that aims to increase New Zealand’s economic, environmental and social health and wellbeing.
Students prepare for the awards using the Eureka online workshop which helps them to make a successful presentation.

Junior Eureka is focused on educating primary school students on how science and technology is being used in their local community and how to talk about science with their friends and whānau.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 5:53 PM, 10 October 2016

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