Science is the thread to so many aspects of life and the Tararua primary school science fair, sponsored by Fonterra, provides the opportunity for pupils to put their inquiring minds and research abilities to the test.

Open to primary school pupils from Norsewood to Papatawa and out to the coast, this year the fair attracted entries from just three schools and one home-school student.

"The quality is definitely up on last year, but we'd like to see this hall full with entries," Dannevirke High School principal Dawid de Villiers said.

The high school hosts the event, but Dr de Villiers admitted they couldn't run it without sponsorship from Fonterra.


Chris Wheeler, head of science at the high school, said the aim is to establish the science fair as an annual event. Although entries were received from just Norsewood and Districts School, St Josephs's School and Huia Range, he's confident entries will grow.

"Most of this work has involved weeks of planning, with schools and individuals maximising their efforts," he said.

"This isn't a high school event, but it's a community event and it's been interesting to see what has evolved from the students' work. Good science work should be to prove something you're not sure of and what the outcomes will be. It's about pushing the boundaries of learning."

With everything from cabbage chemistry, watching your grass grow and the pursuit of sweetness, there was a variety of work for the judges, Fonterra's shareholder council representative for Hawke's Bay Andrew Hardie, Fonterra's Tararua area manager Jamie Smith and Farm Source's Central Districts technical sales representative Mia Brunton, to assess and discuss.

"Winner of the senior individual section, Emily Kirk, a home-school student, has shown a very inquiring mind as she's assessed the relative sweetness of golden syrup and treacle," Mr Hardie said.

"The whole idea of this science fair is learning. Emily was baking when the question popped into her mind about the relative sweetness of golden syrup and treacle.

"Fonterra is very pleased to be involved as we need to encourage more people into science. We are committed to this science fair even through the hard years, because it's a worthwhile investment.

"Sponsorship of a programme like this is something we are passionate about. The winners tested the boundaries of their knowledge."

Mr Wheeler said the primary school science fair is where kids get hooked.

"It's all about how they approach their particular subject. Emily just kept digging."

Mr Smith said he'd like to see the science fair grow.

"This is the second year Fonterra has sponsored this and it's certainly something we're keen to continue, and farmers are still contributing despite a couple of hard years because science is important to our industry."

Junior group: 1st: Aron Smyth, Drew Bishop, Jasmine Grey, Shawn Doreen-Jenkins - Norsewood and Districts School: 2nd: Room 5 Huia Range; 3rd: Room 1 Norsewood and Districts.
Intermediate individual: 1st: Stevye Bishop - Norsewood; 2nd: Hayley Black - Norsewood; 3rd: Ataahua Waerea - Norsewood.
Intermediate group: 1st: Alex Maulder, Jack Bealing, Jimmy Thomas, Lydia Black, Sean Galloway - Norsewood; 2nd: Room 6 Huia Range; 3rd: Ella Peters, Eva Meek, Josef Blank, Riley Mullany - Norsewood.
Senior group: 1st: Fleur Trent, Juedi Janssen - Norsewood; 2nd: Charlie Dillon, Paddy Dillon - St Joseph's; 3rd: Sophie Meek and Kim Carrington - Norsewood.
Senior individual: 1st: Emily Kirk - home school; 2nd: Manaaki Motu - Huia Range; 3rd: Cadence Beale - Norsewood.