Artificial bones, wireless charging and portable biodigesters were just some of the projects developed by the next generation of Australian scientists and engineers.
Incredible young minds from across the country have been recognised at The BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards, announced earlier this year.
A partnership between the BHP Foundation, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), the annual awards celebrate the next generation of Australia’s STEM talent.
The 26 students, who were nominated by their respective state-based Science Teachers Associations through preliminary competitions, converged in Melbourne at the start of February for a four-day science camp. Students toured research facilities and learnt about the importance of STEM communication before submitting their projects for final judging.
As in previous years, the finalists showcased an impressive array of projects, ranging from concepts for developing artificial bone to increasing wireless charging rates, and investigating bacterial growth on healthcare workers’ mobile phones.
First place in the Engineering category went to Ethan Tjhin and Gokulraj Kuppusamy from Redeemer Baptist School in North Parramatta. They developed ‘Methane on Wheels’ – a portable biodigester that processes organic waste, harnessing the methane gas for use in cooking.
The Investigations category was taken out this year by Edward Garth, also of Redeemer Baptist School. He developed an algorithm to create safer driving routes based on intersection timings. Testing it over a four-month period, Edward found his algorithm proved faster than other GPS mapping platforms such as Google Maps.
Nyheemah Cox (pictured at the start), of the Christian Aboriginal Parent Directed School in Western Australia, was awarded the Innovator to Market Award for 2020. Her project, ‘Testing the Healing Properties of Indigenous Remedies’ sought to identify antimicrobial activity in three different bush plants.
Through her research, Cox was able to demonstrate the value of using these bush plants in treating minor ailments, particularly in small communities with limited access to medical supplies.
Equally as impressive as the students’ projects was their ambition.
Tjhin described his love of learning, saying his “overall desire in life is to be a loving person who can better the world”. His future aspirations include to one day create manipulative anti-gravity in order to fly without using resources or emitting greenhouse gases.
Similarly, Garth has set his sights on a career that enables him to be at the forefront of new discoveries to help others, while Cox aspires to improve lives in her community as an Aboriginal health worker, as well as a keen interest in gathering and preserving knowledge from Elders.
In good hands
The awards speak to a bright future for STEM in Australia.
“The world is changing faster than humans can keep up with, but science, technology, engineering and maths can solve these challenges and guide us to a better future through innovation,” CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said.
“Around three-quarters of all future jobs will need STEM, and we’re absolutely committed to helping school students develop these skills so they can turn science into solutions that better shape Australia’s future.
“We know that the achievements of the winners and finalists will inspire other students to become innovators solving the big challenges that face our world.”
Six finalists will have the chance to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) alongside students from 75 countries. That event takes place in California in May.