1995 Student Winners
- Biology and Microbiology
- Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Environmental and Earth Science
- Physics, Engineering and Technology
Biology and Microbiology
Year 8, Killara High School in Killara, NSW
'Killing the Dust Mite With a Tea Tree Oil Bullet'
Michael Morris, a student in year 8 last year at Killara High School, New South Wales, distinguished himself for the third year in a row, focusing on the subject of dust mites.
He tested the effect of tea tree oil vapour in eliminating or controlling the dust mite (Dermatophagoides Pteronyssinus). Traditional attempts to control dust mites have relied on synthetic based chemicals, with limited success.
But Michael found that a vapour of tea tree oil and tannic acid, which is harmless to home furnishings, will kill and neutralise the mite in both air and carpet.
By filming his operations, he also discovered that, contrary to popular belief, dust mites rise to the surface of carpet over a 24 hour period, rather than remaining in the lower layer. This finding could have major implications on the future elimination of the house dust mite.
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Year 8, Telopea Park High School, Narrabundah, ACT
'Why Does Cotton Rot?'
Katherine Shelley, a year 8 student at Telopea Park High School in Narrabundah, ACT, set herself a task to discover why cotton cloth rots after many washes.
Testing identical cotton samples, Katherine subjected them to 39 cycles of washing, and using controls, some were dried in the sun or shade, some were ironed, and some left unironed. She then analysed the deterioration of her samples by testing their tensile strength, and inspecting them under an electron microscope.
By establishing scientifically that direct sunlight deteriorates cotton and that the rubbing action of ironing can also cause fibre breakage, she undertook an excellent study of a common problem, demonstrating that methodical, detailed and controlled experiments can achieve clear specific findings.
Environmental and Earth Science
Year 9, Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar
'Geoffrey's Alternative Product to Plastic'
Janette was a year nine student from Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar when she entered the Awards last year. She has been an enthusiastic entrant in past BHP Science Awards, awarded finalist three years running since 1992.
In her 'Study of The Sick Home' she set out to answer the question whether the air inside the home was less healthy than outside, and if pollutants trapped inside the home could be an asthma trigger.
Her research included collecting and analysing particles found in places such as mattresses, heating ducts and carpets, and highlighted important issues which could trigger problems for people with asthma or bronchitis.
Her conclusions offer a range of practical suggestions for reducing contaminants in the home and reducing the risk of illness.
Physics, Engineering and Material Science
Halton Stewart, Wade Newcombe and Stephen Finney
Year 12, Taperoo High School, Largs Bay, SA
'Analysis of Strain by Double Exposure Holographic Interferometry'
The above year 12 students from Taperoo High School in Largs Bay, South Australia studied an anylsis of strain on metal by double exposure holographic interferometry - a largely new field of study.
By using holographic techniques, they developed methods of measuring minute movements, as little as one thousandth of a human hair, in an object from an applied force. They then calculated values to find weakness in metal samples.
They developed and used their own apparatus - the Double Exposure Holographic Interferometer, and showed that an aspect of holography can be used to show abnormalities within metal samples to reveal internal flaws. Their discovery has great potential application in quality control, strength testing and flaw detection in construction metals.
Their teacher, who introduced the students to the field of laser technology and holography, Peter Geelen, was also awarded Highly Commended in the 1995 BHP Science Teacher Awards.