Jonathan Chan, a 17-year-old student from Auckland Grammar School has taken out the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Future Science Prize for 2017.
If you have ever seen water drops sitting on a spider’s web, you will get the project Jonathan was awarded the prize for. With the help of his teachers and mentors from the University of Auckland’s School of Chemistry, Jonathan developed a 3D-printed mesh that can collect water from fog. The goal was to develop a system to harvest good quality drinking water for use in some developing nations.
The secret lay in Jonathan developing a suitable mesh coating of polystyrene, and refining the concentration of the chemicals so the pores of the mesh did not clog up. The work involved long hours, serious calculations and even using an electron microscope as well as the designing and use of the 3-D printer to produce the mesh.
The judges believe the process is capable of potentially being scaled up and could become a commercially viable process.
PM’s Awards not Jonathan’s first rodeo
It’s not Jonathan’s first success in science. Last year he was part of a New Zealand team that was fifth in the International Young Physicists’ Tournament in Singapore, and he had previously won the NIWA Premier Platinum Award and the University of Auckland Physics Department Award for Excellence at Auckland’s Science and Technology Fair for another research project.
Jonathan plans to use his $50,000 prize for his tertiary studies.
Nelson science teacher rated best of 2017
Students from Nelson College for Girls will already know something that the rest of the country learned in mid-February – Mrs Sarah Johns is a great teacher of science.
Sarah is the teacher in charge of junior science at the 1100-student school, basing her teaching around a philosophy of being curious, open to possibilities and willing to take a risk. She strives to connect students and science through their interests and aspirations to do things that they can relate to and that can potentially make a difference.
As part of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize, the school will receive $100,000 that will establish a scholarship research fund for students and create a modern, well equipped science laboratory that all students will be able to access.