Student’s ‘Eco Protector’ project awarded Wrybill Trophy

In October, five school students and their families were invited to Environment Canterbury to present their winning Science Fair projects to Councillors and staff.

Every year Environment Canterbury invites the first-place winners of our resource management awards from the NIWA Canterbury/Westland Science and Technology Fair and the Timaru Sanford’s Science and Technology Fair to present their projects. From these presentations, one project is deemed the best of the best and awarded the Wrybill Trophy.

This year’s finalists thoroughly investigated a wide range of topics, including:

  • Reducing pesticide run-off by combining two different polymer additives to cut down the amount of liquid that bounces off the plant,
  • Designing biodegradable plant guards,
  • Comparing commonly used firewood to see which dries the fastest and produces the least smoke, and
  • An investigation into reducing stormwater pollution including an awareness campaign.

Professor Jon Hickford from Lincoln University was invited to judge the students’ presentations and determine the Wrybill Trophy winner for 2018.

It was a tough decision, but Professor Hickford awarded the Wrybill Trophy to Julia Christensen from Cobham Intermediate. Julia designed and produced a totally biodegradable plant guard, the Eco Protector. She trialled several prototypes and is in discussion with potential retailers with the view to taking her design to market.

While Julia couldn’t be there on the day, her video presentation was well received and the Councillors were impressed with the range of variables Julia considered and the practical nature of her idea. Professor Hickford presented the Wrybill Trophy to Julia’s father on her behalf.

The judges of the NIWA Canterbury/Westland Science and Technology Fair were also very impressed with Julia’s project, saying “Julia was concerned about the number of plastic plant protectors that end up floating down river or blown about after a plant-out where subsequent wind or heavy rain washes them away. We were impressed with her desire to reduce waste and pollution; a real problem solver and enthusiastic in her presentation.”

Environment Canterbury Councillors congratulated the students on the time, effort and thought they invested in their projects.

Councillor Peter Scott said, “The standard of submissions was very high this year, which made judging difficult. We feel the region’s environment is in good hands as the students’ investigations and technological innovations showed sound understanding of the environmental issues in our local region. We also appreciate and acknowledge the significant contributions of their teachers in promoting scientific and environmental awareness and understanding.”

2018 Science Fair winners:

Canterbury/Westland

  • Junior: Julia Christensen, Cobham Intermediate ‘Eco Protector’
  • Senior: Thimeth Wijesinghe, Christ's College 'Pesticide Run-off: Less bouncy solution from polyacrylamides'

Julia Christensen, Cobham Intermediate ‘Eco Protector’

Julia Christensen

Thimeth Wijesinghe, Christ's College 'Pesticide Run-off: Less bouncy solution fr

Thimeth Wijesinghe

South Canterbury

  • Junior: Lachlan Sheehan and Max Phillpot, Ashburton Borough School 'Which Wood Dries Faster?'
  • Senior: Heidi Vogel, Craighead Diocesan 'Don't Feed the Storm Drains'

Lachlan Sheehan and Max Phillpot, Ashburton Borough School 'Which Wood Dries Fas

Lachlan Sheehan and Max Phillpot

Heidi Vogel, Craighead Diocesan 'Don't Feed the Storm Drains'

Heidi Vogel