St Patrick’s College science stars shine at awards


A year 13 student and a recent old boy of St Patrick’s College Wellington have each earned scholarships after competing in the Wellington Regional Eureka Awards.

Year 13 student Xavier English gave a 6 minute speech about the use of virtual reality for training in health and safety situations.

“It’s the next platform and will create lots of things in technology.” English said.

“People don’t realise how far virtual reality has become. “It’s at the point of real experience.

“I know it’s extremely relevant.”

English has been awarded the Ministry for Social Development Silver Scholarship ($2500) and the Ministry of Education Gold Scholarship ($5000).

Old boy Finn Lowndes, who now studies physics and law at Victoria University, delivered a speech about nuclear fusion technology being the solution to the world’s energy crisis.

He said the words “nuclear power” would normally be met with trepidation by environmentalists.

At the moment nuclear power depends on nuclear fission reactors which involve the coming together of atomic nuclei.

If anything goes wrong with fission reactor an explosion such as the ones the power plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima can occur.

However, nuclear fusion reactors involved the coming together of atomic nuclei, as opposed lo their separation (fission).

“If something goes wrong there would be no explosions.” said Lowndes.

“It’s a new field that needs pioneering minds to take charge of.”

Lowndes’ presentation has been selected as one of 6, from university undergraduates across New Zealand, to compete in the national finals in September.

He will be awarded between $1500 and $10,000 depending on his performance in the finals.

The Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka Awards are designed to increase young New Zealanders interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

A key part of the Eureka Awards is showing how the student’s STEM idea can benefit New Zealand’s economic, environmental and social wealth and well-being.


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