Text from News
NZ student did have to be a rocket scientist
RICHMOND, Nelson NZ — If Waimea College student Nathan Denmead decides
on a career in science, he's launching it the right way, by picking up
four top science fair awards for his project Rockets Away.
The 16-year-old on Thursday won the overall National Institute of Water
and Atmospheric Research Senior Science and Technology Fair Award for
his project, which explored developing a suitable rocket motor to be
used in model rockets.
He investigated how the density of a propellant affects the rocket
motor's performance. conclusion, he said, was complicated, but the
higher density gave better performance.
His work also earned him three more of the top six awards - the John
Cross Award for Best Investigative Research, the Otago University
Hands-On Week for Best Investigational Method Award, and the Ernest
Rutherford Best Physics Investigation Award.
He also won a Standard Science Gold Award and the Australasian Institute
of Mining and Metallurgy Award.
"I'm very happy," Nathan said. "I didn't think I'd win that many
The year 12 student is considering studying science at university when
he finishes secondary school.
Of the top six awards handed out, the Overall Niwa Junior Science and
Technology Fair Award went to Nayland College student Caitlin
Attenburrow for her project Colour Thought, while Garin College student
Nic Barkley was awarded the Ernest Rutherford Best Technology Project
award for Sparkle Jam.
The Nelson Regional Science and Technology Fair was open to all primary
and secondary schools in the Nelson region.
The projects were judged and displayed last month at the Ernest
Rutherford Retirement Village, where Thursday night's prizegiving was
Realising his Dream
Last week local student, Nathan Denmead along with twenty-eight other
students from around the nation was selected to have a blast of a time
up in Wellington. The prestigious Genesis Energy Realise the Dream event
was held to celebrate excellence in research. The local model rocket
enthusiast was selected to go for his research on model rocket motor
Over the week the students were taken around Wellington, visiting the
cities iconic attractions. This included tours of the national Isotope
Centre, Karori Wildlife Sanctuary and the Weta museum. “We were even
treated to a cocktail evening hosted by UNESCO at the Boat House, which
was a great success. My highlight for the week though was the day at
Massey University, where we built our own light seeking robotic car and
a Sterling engine which could generate electricity” said Nathan.
He also said that going to Realise the Dream was a really amazing
experience. Meeting like-minded people at this once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity really got him exited about what science has to offer. “I
would really encourage people to get involved, it’s not about being a
geek, it’s about doing something you’re passionate about.”
On Thursday night a farewell BBQ was held to rap the occasion up. A
number a travel awards were announced and Nathan was extremely surprised
to find himself winning the Asia New Zealand Foundation Travel Award to
the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition taking place over March.
“I could hardly believe it” Nathan said as he expresses his awe.
Later next year, in March, the celebratory awards dinner will be held at
Te Marae, Te Papa where cash prizes of up to $7,000 and international
travel to London will be presented. Genesis Energy Realise the Dream is
also sponsored by DairyNZ and The New Zealand Commission for UNESCO as
well as other organisations that support individual awards. For more
information visit www.realisethedream.org.nz.
Nelson student's rockets take him all the way to China
WAKEFIELD, Tasman NZ — Making homemade gun powder to fire rockets with
may seem like a dangerous pastime for some, but mixing the explosive
powder himself gives Nathan Denmead's rockets a speedy edge.
The year 12 Waimea College student conducts his experiments in a little
shed at his Wakefield home, and his diligent research has paid off, as
he has been awarded an Asia New Zealand Foundation Travel Award to the
Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition in March.
The 16-year-old rocket enthusiast and four other New Zealand students
were awarded the all-expenses-paid scholarships when they attended the
recent Genesis Energy Realise the Dream event, which celebrates
excellence in students' research.
Nathan was picked to attend the event for his research on model rocket
motor performance, which won him the overall National Institute of Water
and Atmospheric Research Senior Science and Technology Fair Award, a
Nelson-wide competition open to all primary and secondary schools.
Nathan's rockets, made of sturdy cardboard, can fire about 80 metres
into the air and have engines packed with layers of clay and gun powder
- made from Nathan's homemade mix of charcoal, sulphur and potassium
Nathan picked up his interest in rockets from his older brother Caleb,
25, who was interested in making explosives, and even made his own
cannon. Nathan found that after a while, "blowing up stuff" got a bit
boring and he started making rockets.
He said attending the Genesis Energy Realise the Dream event in
Wellington recently with 28 other students was an amazing experience
where he met like-minded people who got him exited about what science
had to offer.
"I would really encourage people to get involved. It's not about being a
geek, it's about doing something you're passionate about."
During the week, the students were taken around Wellington, visiting the
city's attractions, such as the National Isotope Centre and the Karori
"My highlight for the week, though, was the day at Massey University,
where we built our own light-seeking robotic car and a sterling engine
which could generate electricity.
I am currently looking a completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering,
but nothing has really been confirmed. These opportunities and
experiences have really helped broaden my horizon of what paths I could
take, and expanded my knowledge. I am really grateful for all these
amazing experiences that have been given to me, and I urge you to take
all opportunities take you are given, they are just out there waiting
“May the force be with you”
This is a video summarizing my project. I had to make this as part of my
nomination to enter Realise the Dream
The Realise the Dream website
You'll find Nathan's
name as one of the four national winners listed going to China here.