Eastland Network Science and Technology Fair winners announced

A last-minute pivot for the Eastland Network Science and Technology Fair meant things were done differently this year but the results are out and prizes have been presented.

Judging took place on Friday, October 29, with prizewinners announced and showcased on a dedicated page on the Science and Technology Fair's website and on social media channels.

The Eastland Network Science and Technology Fair had to adapt at the very last minute due to the most recent Covid-19 lockdown but organiser Renee Raroa said they were still happy with the number of entries and the overall standard of the work presented.

A group of judges got together at Ilminster Intermediate to go through the entries and decide on the gold and silver awards across a number of categories as well as top primary and intermediate prizes.

“This year's prizewinners stood out because of their scientific investigation — the collection, interpretation and communication of data,” said committee member and judge Andrea Ferris.

Gisborne Intermediate student Romie Roseman won the overall top prize ‘Best in Fair' for her project titled ‘Get off the Grass', an investigation into the impact on soil quality and biodiversity of mowing lawns.

“We were very impressed with the depth of Romie's experiment,” said Mrs Ferris.

Romie said she was thrilled to win the top prize and had started working on the project last December.

Two new categories were introduced this year — Science as Art and Technology as Art.

Here students had to create 2D or 3D pieces of art with a clear message connected to the Sustainable Development Goals. Students were invited to add QR codes to their art pieces that linked to videos or audio that expanded on their message.

Inaugural winners of the Best Science in Art were Tori-Lee Walton and Demi Judd from OneSchool Global, and Jacqueline Kennedy from Gisborne Intermediate.

Ruby Jefferson and Kate Callaghan from Gisborne Intermediate won Best Technology in Art.

Ms Raroa said they missed having the public interaction this year and it was unfortunate that the set date for the event landed during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The committee will be seeking feedback from students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders about ways to continue developing and evolving the Science and Technology Fair.

“We are considering what changes may need to be made to ensure the young scientists of Tairāwhiti can still share their scientific inquiries and technological problem-solving and have their efforts showcased for the wider community,” she said.

“We hope we will be able to improve on the virtual experience next year, and are looking at ways to present the fair as both an online and actual event.

“We would like to give the option of entries coming in with a digital component like a short video where the students can explain their projects.

“I want to thank Ilminster Intermediate for hosting this year's event and a big thank you to all the teachers and students involved for being so patient and adaptable.

“I also want to thank our platinum sponsor Eastland Network for making it possible.”

Eastland Network general manager Jarred Moroney said although it was disappointing the usual fair and prizegiving couldn't be held this year, it was great to see the creative ideas and scientific investigation showcased online.

“I think the proposed online format in future will also make it more accessible to a wider range of participants, and will make it easier for our Coast schools to be involved.

“Eastland Network are proud to sponsor the Science and Technology Fair. At least one previous winner currently works for our company, and in the future we look forward to more winners and participants joining our team.”

Some of the category winners were — Best Primary Science (group) Sage Alexander and Aubrey Rewi-Wetini  from Mangapapa; (individual) Olive Chambers from Te Hapara School; Best Primary Technology (group) Willow Bolton-Riley and Kyrah Nepe from Te Wharau School.

Gisborne Intermediate's Cameron Walters and Romie Roseman both won Best Intermediate Science Project. Best Intermediate Technology (group) was awarded to Truan Blampied, Acton and Kansas Forrest, Dusky Hamlin, Auburn and Tara Vigis and Hutch Wallace from OneSchool Global.

Photo: BEST IN FAIR: Science and Technology Fair committee member Emily Willock and Eastland Network general manager Jarred Moroney present Gisborne Intermediate student Romie Roseman with certificates and a prize for her Best in Fair project 'Get off the grass'.

■ The Science and Technology Fair has been going for well over 40 years and thousands of Tairāwhiti students have taken part during this time. The 2021 entries can be viewed online at mysciencefair.co.nz/awards

Photo and story: Gisborne Herald