Girls' School NIWA Auckland City Science & Technology Fair

September 10, 2013 at 3:08 PM

With thanks to science teacher, Mrs Jess Francis

Year 8 student, Molly Payton was excited to learn that her science project, ‘Could There be wind in a Vacuum on the Moon?’ was placed first in the Planet Earth and Beyond category of this year’s Niwa Auckland City Science & Technology Fair. She was also awarded a special prize – the Stardome Observatory Bronze Award.

Molly came up with the idea for her project about the flag flying on the moon after she had seen a ‘Mythbusters’ clip and it inspired her to test the idea that a flag wouldn’t be able to fly in space due to the lack of atmosphere.  Molly created two small models of a flag that could be blown by a small electric fan.  One of the models was placed in its own vacuum chamber from which the air could be sucked out and measured using a pressure gauge. Molly then plotted data relating to the distance the flag blew in the wind from the fan compared to the distance the flag blew in the ‘vacuum chamber’.  Her results were convincing on first sight but the strength of the sides of her ‘vacuum chamber’ limited the extent and the amount of repeat results she could have taken. So she’s going back to the drawing board for a new design and a more detailed statistical analysis of data next year!

Two Highly Commended Certificates were awarded to:
Bethan Montgomery for her project ‘Inky enough?’ 
Emma Clancy for her project ‘Rotting Away!’

The last word goes to Molly…
‘For getting 1st in category I won a $100 cheque, the most money I've ever been given! The Stardome Planet Earth and Beyond Award was a $50 gift voucher for the gift shop at the Stardome. Plus I was kindly offered to have my entire family go on a tour of the Stardome Observatory. The tour includes a show and a chance to look through the telescope into space. I plan to do the tour on a cloudless day, otherwise the telescope won't work!

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