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MEET THE JUDGES!
With just 9 days to go until The Big Bang North West 2015 and The National Science + Engineering Competition, we would like to introduce you to some of the amazing judges who will be selecting finalists and award winners.
Find out more about the award-winning projects from Emily O'Regan - the UK Young Scientist of the Year - and Fred Turner - the UK Young Engineer of the Year.
We are delighted to announce that Emily O’Regan has been awarded the title of UK Young Scientist of the Year 2013 and Fred Turner has been made the UK Young Engineer of the Year 2013 at the National Science + Engineering Competition Award Ceremony last night.
Emily and Fred both went through two gruelling days of judging and interviews, but the judges were incredibly impressed with the high standard of their projects.
Celebrity judge, Ben Miller, was incredibly impressed by all of the Competitor's projects.
"I passionately believe that science and engineering are vital to our future. These outstanding projects by Emily and Fred show just how bright that future is in the UK and I can't wait to see what they do with their highly promising careers. I hope young people everywhere feel inspired to follow in their footsteps," he said.
Emily investigated the breeding and mating habits of a captive flock of Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) – a species that is now endangered. She was working with a captive group, which had stopped breeding seven years ago, and she set about finding out why.
She spoke to a number of experts in the field, to try and find out if this has happened before. She also monitored the flock, their living conditions and courtship habits to determine what had caused the flamingos’ to stop breeding.
Emily discovered that not only was there a correlation between temperature and breeding, but also that the flamingo’s breeding habits changed when there was an increased seagull population in the area.
She hopes to go onto study zoology at university and to become even more involved in the conservation work that she loves.
Emily O'Regan talks about her project
Fred wowed the judges with his engineering project, where he built a home-made PCR machine for testing genes.
A PCR machine, sometimes known as a thermal cycler, amplifies segments of DNA. These machines can cost up to £3,000, but Fred managed to build one from scratch in his cellar at home. His project looked at the challenges and obstacles he faced in order to build such a complicated piece of equipment with just the tools and materials he had available.
Fred’s project wasn’t just an engineering one though, he also had to consider the scientific side of his machine, after all a PCR machine is no use unless it can amplify DNA segments.
Fred hopes to use the machine to complete some home genetics testing of his own. He explained to the judges that he was interested to see the genetic mutations that mean his mum and brother have ginger hair, whereas he doesn’t.
He’s also hoping to use the design of his machine as a kit, so that others can build their own PCR machines without having to work through the problems he faced during his project.
Fred Turner explains his engineering project
If you have a burning science or engineering question that you'd like answered, check out our Ask the Experts page.
The entries for the National Science + Engineering Competition 2014 are now open.