Pirongia School student Liam Hodgson has taken the top spot in the Waikato Science Fair for a study on how pest fish are impacting on native koura populations.
“Science is absolutely his passion. He has always talked about following a pathway into practical science and more recently has talked about becoming an environmental ecologist or a marine biologist,” said principal Kelly Bicknell.
The Waikato Regional Science and Technology Fair held their award ceremony last Tuesday, when the 13-year-old was presented the Best in Fair Award.
He investigated the link between koura (freshwater crayfish) in Waipā and King Country river catchments to the number of carp and catfish present.
He placed whakaweku, or bundles of ferns, in the water for two weeks at a time to catch koura in places where carp and catfish weren’t present. He then compared his findings to his last science fare project, which investigated koura in areas where carp and crayfish were present.
Hodgson concluded from his comparison that carp and catfish negatively affected the koura population.
“What he loved about this project is the massive area he covered exploring both Waipā and King Country water catchments, being in the water looking forward to seeing what ‘creatures’ he would find in the bundles he had set,” said Bicknell.
In addition to being the best over winner, Hodgson also won the New Zealand Statistical Association Award for Excellent Application of Statistical Methods and Reasoning, best year eight exhibit, and the NIWA award for outstanding exhibit relating to water and atmosphere.
“We had a student who took out not only his category, but he also took out the year eight division, and then he took out the whole science fair, he absolutely nailed it,” Bicknell said.
Hodgson was one of five Pirongia students acknowledged by the judges.
Sacha Mills, 13, was highly commended for her project Barking Bacteria, Samuel Sheridan, 13, was also highly commended for his project Best Balls, Pippa Earwaker, 12, was placed second for her project Dishes Dilemma, and Kanu Millward, 13, was also second for their project on sleep science.
“We have got 75 year seven and eight students, so for us to go off to the regional awards and receive this many awards back is very rewarding. The students were recognised individually as up-and-coming scientists really,” Bicknell said.