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Aussie science student’s oarsome effort

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Lucy Lake’s rowing oars are taking her from home in Sydney to Phoenix, Arizona, USA to represent Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Earlier this year, the 18-year-old Barker College student received second place in the Engineering category at the national BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards for her project, a new rowing oar design called Phase 3. The design mimics the tubercles on the edge of a whale flipper which reduces aerodynamic drag and slippage on the blade through the water – just like they do on a whale.

Lucy said the biggest challenge was working on the technical design and production for a year as she had to learn a whole new skill set. Then during the first on-water trial she experienced a malfunction with the connector section and lost one of her blades.

“I was really crushed - a year’s hard work and then just one connector breaks and my blade sinks to the bottom of the ocean.”

Despite this setback, Lucy continued refining her project and is now excited to share her knowledge and interests with other students from around the world who share the same passion for STEM as she does.

“It’s really exciting and it makes me realise that what I’ve done is no longer just about myself, it’s about the bigger picture," she said.

"It has been amazing to be able to have all these opportunities to push my project further than I’ve ever thought and develop it into something bigger and better.”

She will be in good company at Intel ISEF with five other 2019 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards student winners Ivy Brain, Mitchell Torok, Josiah Cheng, Anne Zimmerman, Tiarra Meier as well as 2019 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Teacher Award winner Allan Alipio and 2018 Indigenous STEM Awards Winners Jordan Griffiths and Jordan Salmon.

BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards recognise and reward school-age student who have undertaken innovative science or engineering projects. The Awards are a partnership between the BHP Foundation, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association and have been running since 1981.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of Society for Science & the Public is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Each year over 1800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for $4 million in prizes.


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