From developing a flood warning system to investigating a new approach to antibiotics, the 26 finalists for the 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards are taking their first steps in using science and engineering to change the world.
The awards recognise the next generation of STEM leaders who have undertaken innovative science or engineering projects.
The 2018 finalists include 14-year-old Jared Crowley – who was inspired to develop an innovative flood warning device after witnessing the effects of flooding at his family’s property on the Gold Coast.
Waters rose and entered the home just after midnight, Jared said.
“It was hard to accurately know what was happening outside and it was a very stressful night, followed by weeks of repairs,” he said.
“All of our animals needed to be moved up from the paddocks that flooded first and we tried to move as much furniture and belongings up but not everything could be saved in this short time.”
Using a computer platform, the system Jared developed sends a text message to people when flood waters reach a certain level at their property.
“Once I finished developing the project I realised that it could be used in multiple ways, such as measuring water tank levels and alerting people when the water decreases to a certain point,” he said.
Lachlan Zidaar from Marymount College in south-east Queensland was motivated to reduce the number of deaths in backyard swimming pools when he developed the Laser Activated Pool Alarm System (LAPAS).
The LAPAS works to save the lives of young children by projecting a laser beam across pool enclosures, notifying people nearby if the beam is interrupted.
Stefany Jeong from the Queensland Academy of Health Sciences is another award finalist for her work investigating whether the antibiotic clarithromycin can be complemented with bovine-lactoferrin to improve drug potency and reduce biofilms.
The BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards are a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and each state and territory Science Teachers Association.
Six of the 2018 finalists will have the opportunity to go to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the US, where more than 1800 high school students from 75 countries, regions and territories are given the opportunity to showcase their independent research.
The winners will be announced on February 6 at a ceremony in Melbourne.
More information at www.scienceawards.org.au