Kesia Kurian and Shulan Qui, Year 13 students attending John Paul College in Rotorua, have made it through to the final round of the 2016/2017 Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge. This international science-based, entrepreneurial competition takes place at the Kennedy Space Centre in Orlando, Florida in April. As part of their entry, they pitched the concept of a diazotroph-based biofertiliser, based on research they undertook last year as part of a Team Silver CREST project. They were mentored by CREST consultant, Sarah Addison, from Scion Research.
Follow the link to their video entry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSRVXjhtayw
The students investigated the use of diazotrophs, or nitrogen fixing microorganisms, in biofertilisers. Their biofertilisers consisted of cultured diazotrophs from six different Rotorua locations. Mung beans, Pinus radiata and radishes were inoculated with these diazotrophs. They also tested a variety of commercial fertilisers available on the market today.
After one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) of their data, it was found that there was no statistically significant difference between treatments (for the dry weight measurements – excluding test plant stem heights). This may have been due to experiment length, climactic conditions or a small sample size.
Kesia and Shulan entered their Silver CREST project into the BOP regional science fair in 2016 and won a number of awards.
Kesia is no stranger to being selected for Royal Society of New Zealand programmes and alongside her Silver CREST project, she was selected by the Society to attend Youth ANZAAS in Australia and Powering Potential in 2016.
The students will be supported to attend the competition in Florida by the Talented School Students Travel Award Fund.
The Royal Society of New Zealand wishes the students every success and will keep you posted of their results.