Two girls in red t-shirts.

Yaya Lu (left) and Sarah McArthur (right) won top prizes in the 2013 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards.

Image: CSIRO

Written by Beth Askham

The winners of this year’s BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been announced! The award ceremony wrapped up an exciting four days where the finalists traveled to Melbourne for a science camp they will never forget.

These awards encouraged students around Australia to think big and follow their ideas with a little innovation, scientific procedure and creativity. The finalists have come up with projects and inventions that have seen them being awarded with cash prizes and amazing travel opportunities.

To enter the awards, students first have to enter their projects in either their local Science Teachers Association (STA) awards or CSIRO’s own CREST awards.

This year’s winners are truly extraordinary. The first, second and third place winners in each category have developed projects that show us more about our world and are set to improve people’s lives and the planet.

Melbourne student Sarah McArthur’s research into the resistance of cancer cells to our body’s immune defences has won her first prize in the Investigations category.

Second place was awarded to Myles Buckley who was inspired to find a way to clean up oil spills at sea with water repellent diatomite that absorbs oil.

Third place was awarded to Anna Stewart-Yates who looked at the advantages, in terms of student learning outcomes, that handwriting in school has over computing-based typing.

Winning first prize in the Engineering category is Yaya (Chenyue) Lu for her work in prototyping devices that could help quadriplegics achieve mobility by controlling wheelchairs with their voice or face movements.

Second place winner Afework Assefa wanted to make sure a child is never left in a car again so devised a thermal monitoring device that detects the presence of a child left in a car.

And third place was awarded to Macinley Butson who created a new device, the spoonge, that can accurately measure and deliver medicine orally to a patient without over- or under-dosing.

Sarah McArthur, Yaya Lu and Myles Buckley will also take part in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona. Here they get the chance to meet other students from around the world and share ideas (not to mention possibly winning some of the three million dollars worth of prizes).

This year’s teacher winner is Julie Weber from the Schools of Isolated and Distance Education, Western Australia. Julie will also be accompanying the group to the US.

It’s over for this year’s winners, for now, but maybe it’s just the beginning for you out there starting to dream up ideas and projects for next year’s awards.

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