Pupil ‘happy scientist’ after win

We've all seen mad scientists, but Alistair McLeod is in a class of his own.

The Grants Braes School 9-year-old sees himself more as a "happy scientist" — particularly after he scored the top mark in New Zealand for the recent International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) year 5 science exam.

"I was pretty surprised when I got it because I didn’t get all the questions right.

"I thought I had gotten at least five wrong."

Turns out, he only got two wrong and it was enough to win the medal.

Alistair said his love of science came from his dad Phil.

Grants Braes School pupil Alistair McLeod with an International Competitions and Assessments for...
Grants Braes School pupil Alistair McLeod with an International Competitions and Assessments for Schools medal, which he won for gaining the top ICAS science exam mark in New Zealand. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
"I like to snuggle with my dad and ask him lots of question about science.

"He know’s quite a lot about it because he’s a computer scientist. I like computer science the most.

"Chemistry is probably my third favourite, second is probably physics."

Alistair’s unwavering dedication and profound interest in science were instrumental in earning his ICAS medal, and it marks a significant milestone in his academic journey.

His passion for science began at age 5, when he started teaching himself how to programme computers.

He regularly attended a programming club organised by a professor of computer science at the University of Otago.

More recently, he attempted to build his own television screen.

"Normally they are made up of millions of little light pixels.

"I just tried to make my pixels a bit bigger, but it didn’t turn out very good."

He said it was a project he would put aside for a later date, when he has a little more knowledge and experience under his belt.

When he grows up, he hopes to become a robotics engineer and study artificial intelligence.

He has already started creating computer code for controlling the movement of robotic objects.

"But not killer robots, because I’m a happy scientist — not a mad scientist."