An environmentally friendly way of charging batteries has earned two Rotorua students second place at the 2016 NIWA Bay of Plenty Science & Technology Fair.

John Paul College Year 13 students Josh Webb, 17, and Christian James, 18, took home the Kiwianis Runner-Up in Fair award, as well as several other prizes, at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre today.

Their project 'Water is Power' involved using a water turbine to charge batteries.

They said they had made it as part of a school technology project. As well as a trophy the boys took home $400.

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Josh and Christian are working alongside the Rotorua Lakes Council to try and potentially implement the device at council sites, including Lake Tarawera.

Both intend to study mechanical engineering at Canterbury University next year.

NIWA Science Fair co-ordinator, Tracey Burton, was the chief judge at the event.

Mrs Burton said she was impressed by the students' work.

"The standard was really high this year. There was a lot more original thinking this year than other years. These projects are making a difference to kids and their communities, and helping with real-life problems."

She said it was a slight difference that separated first and second place.

"The boys' [Josh and Christian's] work was inspiring. I'm also impressed by the time commitment outside school that all students put in."

The NIWA Best in Fair award overall winner award went to James Zingel, 14, from Bethlehem College in Tauranga. His 'Gran check' monitors his grandmother through a sensor and sends emails about movements back to his mother.

He said he was still in shock at his first place. "I was not expecting to win."

He said he made the device as his gran was in her 70s and lived alone in the countryside.

Grant Gibson, deputy chairman of the Science Fair committee, said the fair was in its 40th year.

There had been 45 judges from NIWA, Scion and local schools, who viewed more than 132 exhibitions from 150 students in the Bay of Plenty area.