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Prime Minister's Science Prizes

The 2017 Prime Minister's Future Scientist Prizes were awarded last night and the School is proud to congratulate recent leaver Jonathan Chan '13, who was one of the recipients of the $50,000 prize, presented by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

There were five awards and Jonathan's was the only award presented to a secondary school student. The purpose of Jonathan’s research and the innovation was to collect fog to provide good-quality drinking water in developing nations that most need it.

Having a passion for Science and a fascination with water droplets on spiderwebs, Jonathan developed a sophisticated, 3D-printed mesh as a different approach to atmospheric water collection. While there were already some basic fog collection systems, Jonathan sought to make a mesh that mimicked wetted spider silk or cactus spine, by controlling its size and structure, and adding a chemical coating.

Jonathan's interest in this technique came about while reading details of the Water Abundance XPrize, a million-dollar, global competition that challenges teams to revolutionize access to fresh water by creating a device that extracts a minimum of 2,000 litres of water per day from the atmosphere using 100% renewable energy, at a cost of no more than 2 cents per litre.

With support from masters at Auckland Grammar School - who helped him nurture his passion for Science to begin with, Jonathan worked with two mentors from the University of Auckland's School of Chemical Sciences (Dr Duncan McGillivray and PhD student Shinji Kihara).

While at Grammar in his final year, Jonathan was a member of the New Zealand team who finished fifth at the International Young Physicists' Tournament in Singapore and won the University of Auckland Physics Department Award for Excellence for his research project on Leidenfrost stars.

The selection panel unanimously agreed that this project is extremely impressive for a high school student and believe he has extraordinary potential in science and technology in the future.

Winning the Prime Minister's Future Scientist Prize was a great motivator for Jonathan to continue doing research. "I think it shows that research is something I am good at, and it drives me towards my goal of applying cutting-edge research to solve real world problems. It's a pinnacle of my achievements."

Click here to read the full story of Jonathan's achievements.
Jonathan Chan
Jonathan conducting his 3D mesh experiment
Jonathan Chan
The final prototype