Teen beats 400 others in science competition

Science whiz: Conrad Petrovic is thrilled to have taken out the Education Perfect and ASTA Stem Challenge competition for 2017. Picture: Simon Bennett
Science whiz: Conrad Petrovic is thrilled to have taken out the Education Perfect and ASTA Stem Challenge competition for 2017. Picture: Simon Bennett

The challenge: design an efficient, transportable device that can be used to purify water in developing countries.

It sounds like a hard ask, but 14-year-old Conrad Petrovic couldn’t wait to dive in.

The task formed the Education Perfect and ASTA STEM Challenge question for 2017 – a competition open to all students in Australia and New Zealand.

The Broughton Anglican College student has always had a love for science and knew finding a solution for the challenge was something he’d be keen to do.

His hard work paid off and the Gilead resident was last week named the winner, beating about 400 other entrants.

“This is the first time I have ever entered a competition like this, and I am very honoured to have been awarded first place in this competition,” Conrad said.

“After reading the criteria for the competition, I was very keen to enter, since it involved designing a project, creating a short portfolio and, more importantly, researching scientific methods related to my design.

“I couldn’t believe I had won at first, but it goes to show that when you participate or enter a competition, you never know what the outcome might be.”

The year 9 student had to design a device would could remove contaminants from a polluted water source. It was not allowed to run off electricity and had to be mobile.

Conrad said he loved undertaking research for the competition.

“I researched what was required to purify polluted water and I added levels of those elements through my design,” he said.

“The different elements of my design also could not make the water unsafe to drink, while still removing all of the contaminants.

“I had to consider the shape of the device, how it would function, what materials were to be used and also ensure my design was ethical.”

Conrad has been fascinated by science for as long as he can remember.

“Science has always been my favourite subject,” he said.

“I have an interest in science mainly because there are still so many phenomena to be explored.

“I believe it’s extremely important that kids of all ages engage with science, because everything in the world is based on scientific principle.

“Science is becoming much more important, especially in areas of medicine, biology, physics and quantum mechanics.”

Conrad is “very excited” to enter another research project – on diffraction patterns – in the Wollongong Science Fair this month.