General news

1 November 2018

Science stars in the Top of the South shine brightly

Talented young scientists from Nelson Tasman were celebrated at the 2018 Scitec Expo Awards ceremony on 25 October with 51 winners receiving awards.

The Cawthron Science and Technology Fair – also called Scitec Expo – has been running for more than 30 years. Cawthron Institute has been heavily involved for much of that time – as a sponsor for 15 years, and then running the event since 2012. This year the Scitec Expo attracted entries from more than 130 secondary students (years 7-13) in the Nelson Tasman region.

Two of the supreme award winners were Macy Cattell, a Nelson College for Girls Year 13 student, who was awarded the John Cross Award for the best scientific investigation, and a team of year 12 students from Nelson College for Girls who received the Des Duthie Award.

The best scientific investigation is marked on originality, technical and graphical skills, statistics, presentation, and literature review. Macy came up with the project idea after participating in Year 13 Biology workshops at the Glen Aquaculture Park, earlier this year. These workshops are a collaboration between University of Otago, Cawthron, NMIT and Spat NZ – and have seen many budding scientists pass through the laboratory. Her project was called ‘Move Those Mussels!’

The team which won the Des Duthie Award (named after the person who led the Scitec Expo for 10 years) worked on a project called ‘Arctic Pro’ throughout the academic year. ‘Arctic Pro’ has the aim of developing a new ice cream. The team is comprised of Meg Cook, Ella Reardon, Sam Waite and Nikki Wynen.

“The Expo encourages students to go beyond their school science curriculum,” says Cawthron Institute Trust Board Chair, Bob Dickinson. “It gives students a range of skills so they’re not just working on science and technology but also on analysis, statistics, communication and good display skills.

Many thousands of students have competed in the Expo over the past 30 years. The experience bolsters their enthusiasm for science and offers a glimpse of a career in the field, says Dickinson.

“The event could not run without a dedicated team of volunteers,” says Dickinson. “There’s considerable community support for the Expo. In addition to the time and energy from students and schools, local science professionals and volunteers gifted more than 500 hours to the event this year. Local businesses also donate money to cover operating costs and prizes. The prizes alone are worth around $7,000.”

Cawthron congratulates all 51 winners at the Awards evening and thanks everyone involved in Scitec Expo 2018. Go to for more information, including the 2018 winners.