Fair introduces students to science, technology – Stuff.co.nz


Andrew Boot is a researcher with Taranaki medicinal cannabis business Greenfern.

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Andrew Boot is a researcher with Taranaki medicinal cannabis business Greenfern.

Andrew Boot’s journey from high school student to medicinal cannabis researcher is the perfect example of the power of science and technology fairs, co-manager of the Witt Taranaki Science & Technology Fair Adriane Besse says.

In 2016, Boot who was studying at New Plymouth Boys’ High School, developed a project for the annual fair about nitrate leaching and how different soil types affect the amount of nitrate from fertilisers running off into our waterways.

His good work was rewarded with a $1000 scholarship funded by Dow AgroSciences and led to him studying agricultural science at Massey University, despite previous plans to study veterinary science, Besse said.

After obtaining a bachelor degree with a major in horticulture, Boot went to work in the field of agricultural research during summer internships before joining Taranaki business Greenfern.

Greenfern is focused on producing medicinal cannabis and a hemp-based meat substitute, which it developed with researchers from Massey and Sustainable Foods Limited.

While the knowledge he picked up from his nitrate leaching project is not directly a part of his day-to-day life, studying it was what sparked his interest in agriculture.

Boot now has the role of research manager and leads Greenfern’s pilot programme trialling an optimally environmentally friendly indoor medicinal cannabis production system, Besse said.

And to all the students taking part in this year’s fair, Boot recommends finding a topic they’re really interested in.

“Don’t limit yourself with an ordinary topic, find something which deeply interests you and don’t be afraid to dig deep into this topic,” he said.

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“If you are interested in what it is you are researching, then you will get much more enjoyment and valuable knowledge out of it and your passion will shine through in the quality of your project.”

This year’s fair is taking over New Plymouth Boys’ High School from August 9-11, Besse said.

During this three-day event, thousands of students from all over Taranaki will showcase their hard work and discoveries to their peers, relatives, educators, local organisations and industries, she said.



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