Life's an experiment for TIGS wonder kids

For the Butson siblings, science, experimentation and a sense of curiosity runs in the family.

Brother and sister Ethan and Macinley have devoted countless hours to their love of science, showing off the latest fruits of their labour at the Illawarra Grammar School’s open day on Saturday.

Year 8 student Macinley spent months on her ‘‘Slow your row snail’’ project, designed to ward off pesky garden snails.

Inspired by watching her own herbs destroyed by hungry bugs, Macinley tested different chemicals and materials to devise a pesticide-free way to keep snails out of the garden.

The result was a moat-like device, creating a water barrier, that also contained copper, which gives the snails a small electric shock if they eat the plants.

‘‘It’s like an electric fence, the snails really didn’t like the shock,’’ Macinley said.

‘‘Only three out of 200 snails that I tested could cross the device, making it a 98.5 per cent protection rate.’’

Her brother Ethan devoted nearly a year to his newest project – a machine which uses augmented reality to help stroke victims.

After watching his grandfather suffer from a stroke, Ethan decided to invent a tool to improve stroke patients’ quality of life.

‘‘Stroke victims and the visually impaired have difficulty seeing objects clearly, they have trouble defining the edges of things,’’ he said.

‘‘This device uses technology and virtual reality to define the objects more clearly, making it much easier for patients to get around at home.’’

Both siblings are keen to pursue a future in science, admitting their ‘‘healthy competition’’ has helped spur them on over the years.

‘‘It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off,’’ Macinley said.

‘‘We do talk about whether we’re on the right track and give constructive criticism,’’ Ethan added.

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