Texting teen driver takes out top science award

By February 4th, 2014

Just how dangerous is texting or making calls on your mobile phone while driving?

Thanks to 14-year-old Conroy Cheers from Melbourne we may all soon know.

Conroy was named as one of the winners of the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards in Melbourne today.

Conroy’s first place in the Investigations category of the awards was for developing a method to measure the risks of texting while driving, and also making hands-on and hands-free voice calls.

Using a readily available driving simulator, Conroy ‘drove’ the streets texting friends, calling his family and measured how his driving was affected. Conroy hopes the process will allow people to experience firsthand the dangers of texting while driving.

“I have loved science and engineering in any size or shape, for as long as I can remember,” Conroy said.

“I always get excited at the prospect of ‘making stuff’, and also enjoy riding my bike and reading. My ambition is to become a scientist or an engineer, perhaps in the field of nanotechnology.”

I have loved science and engineering in any size or shape, for as long as I can remember”

Conroy Cheers

Winner in the Engineering section was 18-year-old Ethan Buston from Wollongong, NSW.

Ethan created the SMART (Stroke Management with Augmented Reality Technology) system – a camera based augmented reality system that aims to aid the recovery and increase the safety of stroke patients. By manipulating what they can see, a clearer visual picture is provided to the patient.

“Science is my life and one of my major passions,” Ethan said.

“I love the discovery that comes with science and using that discovery to help benefit others.”

Since 1981 the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been Australia’s most prestigious school science awards.

“Science will always be at the core of understanding how we address human, environmental and business challenges while engineering helps us find the way to do it,” BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said.

“That’s why we have supported these awards for over 30 years.

“As a global natural resources company, scientists and engineers are an integral part of our present and future, and fundamental to the ongoing development of society.”

The awards reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects, which demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures.

“This year’s finalists are tackling at high school some things that are being tackled in leading research laboratories,” CSIRO Chief Executive Megan Clark said.

“They have taken on great challenges, like wireless power transmission, bamboo bikes, food production, pollution and helping stroke victims to recover. They inspire  us with their courage.

“We are proud to be associated with our partners BHP Billiton and the Australian Science Teachers Association.”

The awards are sponsored by BHP Billiton and are managed by CSIRO and are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association. The awards are also supported by Intel Corporation.

WINNERS – Investigations

First Place

Conroy Cheers
VIC – Caulfield Grammar School
The effects of texting on driving safety

Second Place

Lewis Nitschinsk
QLD – Queensland Academy for Health Sciences
The optimal reclamation point of phosphate from waste water

Third Place

Benjamin Coxon
QLD – Trinity Anglican School
Playground surfaces: Force absorption capacity of sand

WINNERS – Engineering

First Place

Ethan Butson
NSW – The Illawarra Grammar School
SMART: Stroke management with augmented reality technology

Second Place

Viney Kumar
NSW – Knox Grammar School
The PART program: A signalling system for emergency vehicles

Third Place

Jake Coppinger
ACT – Gungahlin College
Swirlesque: A new form of human-computer interaction

Additional Prizes

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

The fours students chosen to attend Intel ISEF in Los Angeles, California, USA (11 – 16 May) are:

  • Conroy Cheers
  • Lewis Nitschinsk
  • Viney Kumar
  • Jake Coppinger.

2014 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards Teacher

Ms Judith Sise from Lyndale Greens Primary School, Victoria

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Texting teen driver takes out top science award