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Taiwan trip a thrill for stellar students

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Two students are travelling to Taipei today to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the Taiwan International Science Fair, with support from the Talented School Students Travel Award.

The students are Liam Hewson (left) from King’s High School in Dunedin and Cian Hinton (right) from John Paul College in Rotorua, both of whom have just completed their final year.

Liam was selected for his long-running science project on whether mānuka inhibits microbial activity. He reviewed existing research and then worked with scientists at the University of Otago who advised him on how to design his investigation.

After initial experiments where he compared different chemotypes (chemically distinct entities), Liam found a significant difference between two extracts and the remaining extracts. The two extracts with a much greater antibacterial effect turned out to be kānuka, a related species to mānuka. His study did show, however, that mānuka in Dunedin does have a small antibacterial effect.

“I really enjoyed researching this topic and have learnt a great deal about mānuka," Liam says. 

Cian has researched, designed and tested a hydro-electric generator, which is an entirely original design, for more than five years and with over 14 different concepts. His interest and curiosity in this field of physics and engineering was borne from his idea that electricity should be able to be generated in the same way that charged particles are accelerated around the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Cian would love to see his generator provide universal access to electricity in third world countries for use in medical care and communication.

Both Liam and Cian will be showcasing their research alongside hundreds of students selected from Taiwan and other countries, including Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. After a day of judging, an open day is organised so that the public can come and view all the projects. This will include many school students from the surrounding areas in Taipei.

The participants will attend a formal welcome dinner and undertake some sightseeing trips in Taipei as well as visiting the famous night markets.

The Talented School Students Travel Award, operated by Royal Society Te Apārangi, is part of the Curious Minds suite of programmes and invests in innovative projects that encourage communities to embrace science and technology.

Find out how to apply for 2019 - applications close Thursday 14 March 2019.

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