NATA Young Scientists of the Year Award winners


NYSA2010The winners of this year’s NATA Young Scientists of the Year Award have been selected from entries submitted by schools from across Australia.

The annual national competition carries $15,000 in prize money to buy science equipment for the schools of the winning entries.

This year’s winner of the first prize is Lily Colmer, aged 11. She was guest of honour at the award presentation (pictured), held in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, where she received her prize from TV’s Surfing Scientist, Ruben Meerman, and NATA's CE Alan Patterson.

Every primary school in Australia was invited to enter a project based on the theme of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. The competition is now in its third year. A panel of four scientists from NATA selected the following three winners:

First prize ($10,000):

Lily Colmer
Albany Hills State School, Albany Creek, Queensland

Project: DVD-presentation, titled ‘What came first the chicken or the egg?’
Judges’ citation: “For a neat and well-scripted project, with an attractive, mature
presentation. Lily justified her scientific argument and showed she was serious
about her subject matter.”

Second prize ($3,000):

Grade 6
Newhaven College Junior School, Newhaven, Victoria

Project: DVD-presentation, titled ‘Evolution of the Five Senses’
Judges’ citation: “For a concise and well-worked submission that justified the scientific basis
for natural selection. Grade 6 provided excellent written material and a very enjoyable visual

Third Prize ($2,000):

Leeming AEP Students
Leeming Primary School, Leeming, WA

Project: Scrapbook, titled ‘Designed by Nature’
Judges’ citation: “For a well thought-out analysis of Darwin’s theory. This project made very
interesting observations, backed by some excellent explanations.”

The competition required class groups or individuals in years 5, 6 or 7 to submit projects that demonstrated and explained Darwin’s theory. Entries were judged on innovation, research and presentation.

The panel of judges were impressed by the level of effort and enthusiasm displayed by the submissions. In choosing the winners they looked for projects that clearly stated their objective, included some experimental work and gave a conclusion based on their observations.

Judge Mohan Sabaratnam, a Program Manager with NATA, said: “The competition aims to encourage school-age scientists to develop their presentation skills. It’s not enough just to conduct an experiment – you must also be able to demonstrate your observations in a clear, concise way that will allow others to understand your scientific conclusions.

“The Australian scientific community understands the importance of assisting in the natural development of children’s thought-processes in the scientific idiom.

“Lily’s project was straight to the point and avoided unnecessary content that might have detracted from her presentation, and her conclusions were very clearly defined. The fact that she was serious about what she was saying made you pay close attention to her.

“The standard of entries has certainly improved year on year.”

The judges of the competition were:
Charlotte Bujewicz, Senior Scientific Officer, Chemical Testing, NATA
David Hayles, Manager Calibration, Measurement Science & Technology, NATA
Patricia Mendez, Senior Scientific Officer, Inspection, NATA
Mohan Sabaratnam, Program Manager, Reference Materials Producers, NATA