St Joseph's School student Luke Heaphy, 12, with his project 'Go Quietly or Go Home' that will be on display at the Cawthron SciTech Expo next week. Photo: Kate Russell.

Revamped Nelson science fair to inspire


A “new look” science and technology fair is coming to the Trafalgar Centre next week.
The three-day Cawthron SciTech Expo kicks off next Tuesday and is an annual celebration of science in Nelson.

Over 350 entries will be on display from primary and secondary schools, as well as early childhood centres throughout the region.

SciTech committee member Dr Bruce Rudge says the old format of the science fair was “too narrow” and has now expanded to include ‘Art in Science’ and ‘Research’ sections, as well as a science communicators award.

It also now welcomes entries in Te Reo Maori.

“The new format is much broader, and we’ve changed it to make it more contemporary. It was a bit old and rusty,” says Bruce.

Twelve-year- old St Joseph’s School student Luke Heaphy will be among the entries making the most of the new sections, after co-winning the school’s own science fair.

He’ll be showcasing his enquiry board and electric motorcross bike, which he says has the potential to enhance performance and save the planet – both at the same time.

Luke says it was his passion for motorcross that started the process, and he came up with his own enquiry which inspired the project: Could he make an electric motor that competes with his 85cc two stroke racing bike?

And by using an electric starter motor from a Toyota Corolla, a dirt bike frame and two powerful jump start batteries, he was pleasantly surprised at the results.

“It took two days to build. It looked different, but it was much lighter,” he says.

Cawthron Foundation secretary Elizabeth Bean says the expo is a “fantastic community event, bringing together scientists, students, teachers, local and national businesses, all working together to support our regions young enquiring minds.”

There are over 80 prizes to be won, worth a total of $8000, and Elizabeth adds that they’re hoping the move from Founders Heritage Park to the Trafalgar Centre will make it more accessible for people wanting to come and have a look at the entries.

The Cawthron SciTech expo runs from Tuesday 26 September (9am – 6pm), Wednesday 27 September (3pm – 6pm) and Thursday 28 September (3pm – 6pm). Entry is free.