The answer lies in snapping soil

Logan Park High School pupil Meran Campbell-Hood with her winning Otago Science and Technology...
Logan Park High School pupil Meran Campbell-Hood with her winning Otago Science and Technology Fair display 'North by North-West'. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Meran Campbell-Hood's quest to answer a question posed by her grandfather has been a winner in the past and this year was no exception.

The Logan Park High School pupil was yesterday awarded the Otago Science and Technology Fair best in fair award for her display ''North by North-West''.

The display built on the 16-year-old's award-winning work of last year, which won her selection for the ''Realise the Dream'' conference and then its Royal Society of New Zealand travel award, which enabled her to attend the 2014 Youth Science Conference in Melbourne.

It all began in year 7 when her grandfather posed the question ''Can soil nutrients be detected by photography?'', she said.

She developed a method to test for soil nutrients, such as copper and selenium, using red-green-blue characteristics of plants, as captured in digital photographs.

Her ''North by North-West'' display looked at the ways changing the camera angle could affect the colours of the photographs taken and make it harder to do the analysis.

''It's all been working up to this point. This is the last step to applying it.''

She had wanted to see the project through due to a love of physics, she said.

Overall, 318 pupils from years 7 to 13 created 288 displays for the fair, which were displayed at Otago Museum last week.


Award for excellence: Jacob Jopson (Bridging the Gap). Tom Shallard (How does incorporating triangles into the design of bridges affect its weight-bearing capacity?).

General excellence: Cameron Reddington (Growth rate of Austrovenus stutchburyi).

Premier award for general excellence and University of Otago premier award: Grant McNaughton (Harbouring an Ocean).

Most promising young scientist: senior, Alex Leckie-Zaharic (War of the Words); junior, Patrick Zhang (How People Consider Organic Foods).

Premier award for gifted and talented pupils in years 7 and 8: Rebecca Dalphin and Prattoyi Saha, (What is eating our shells?).

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