Student buzzing after winning Waikato science fair

A 12-year-old has taken on the most damaging honey bee parasite in the world to win the NIWA Waikato Science and Technology Fair. The Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) has been plaguing New Zealand beehives for almost 20 years, costing the honey industry millions of dollars each year. Aidan Hodgson, of Pirongia School tested methods of eradicating the varroa mite from beehives in his project ‘Destroying Destructor’.

He compared the use of oxalic acid via cardboard strips and vaporisation on several beehives to determine which method was the most effective. He found out that delivering the acid via vaporisation was slightly more effective than the cardboard strips.

He was named the overall winner of the fair last night at St Paul’s Collegiate Chapel in Hamilton, netting him $1100 in prizemoney. More than 400 students from 25 schools entered the fair. Tracey Burton, a freshwater ecologist and science fair co-ordinator at NIWA, said the project was a fascinating example of thorough scientific investigation.

“He designed the experiment well and had a good understanding of the many variables involved. It was a great piece of work presented at an extremely high level, aimed at helping to understand ways in which the apiculture industry in NZ can help in the fight against this hive destroying mite.”

She said Aidan’s project was reflective of a growing interest in environmental issues at science fairs.

“There were a lot of environmental projects this year which is great. It shows the students are thinking about the quality of their future and wanting to do something about it.”

Providing major sponsorship for many of the science fairs throughout New Zealand is part of NIWA’s long-term commitment to enhancing science and technology for young New Zealanders. NIWA is also a major sponsor of the Auckland City, South & East Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury-Westland and Wellington Science and Technology Fairs.

For more information visit https://www.waikatosciencefair.org.nz/