Counting catfish with AI wins inaugural science fair Supreme Award

Jul 1, 2022 | Uncategorized

A scientific project exploring the use of artificial intelligence and traps to identify and photograph catfish underwater to monitor population numbers has taken out Te Arawa Lakes Trust’s Ngā Karu Atua Supreme Award at the inaugural Te Tūkohu Ngāwhā Science and Design Fair.

Alexander (Alex) Malcolm, from Mokoia Intermediate School, spent many weekends working on his project, one of 80 entries from tamariki and rangatahi from across the Te Arawa rohe.

Alex says he decided to look at alternative ways of monitoring catfish after spending more than five years being involved in Te Arawa Lakes Trust’s catfish programme.

“I wanted to come up with a project that would help the work we’re doing with catfish netting, get a better understanding of what’s happening in the lakes and the different types of fish that are there,” says Alex.

Alex won the Sustainability Category, as well as the Scion Ngā Huarahi ki Te Ao Award.

The results were announced at a prize giving held at Motion Entertainment this evening <<sub: Friday 1 July>>. The entries were judged by Tracey Burton (LINZ), Katerina Pihera-Ridge (SCION), Soweeta Fort D’arth (Bay of Plenty Regional Council) and Deniz Özkundakci (University of Waikato).

The Fair featured five categories – water quality, biosecurity, biodiversity, mātauranga Māori and sustainability, with the winners in each category being eligible for the Supreme Award.

A joint kaupapa between Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the mātauranga Māori science fair is believed to be the first of its kind, specifically targeting environmental issues through a te ao Māori lens.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust Operations Manager – Biosecurity and Jobs for Nature, William Anaru, says local tamariki and rangatahi are incredibly enthusiastic and passionate about being kaitiaki for the environment and it has really shone through in their mahi.

“The projects are so impressive – and around 10 kura have visited the fair over the past two days.

“This kaupapa gives tamariki and rangatahi a chance to kōrero about the state of te taiao, and the more they know about the environment and how to care for it, the better it will be for their tamariki, and future generations after then.”

Te Tūkohu Ngāwhā Science and Design Fair is open until 1pm Saturday 2nd July at Motion Entertainment in Rotorua for kura, whānau, friends and members of the public to come along and check out the projects.

The fair showcases range of topics from restoring native species, through to pest control and measuring and creating habitats to improve biodiversity.

Photo caption: Te Arawa Lakes Trust Ngā Karu Atua Supreme Award winner Alex Malcolm, with the Trust’s Biosecurity Co-ordinator, Mariana te Rangi.

Full results:

Biosecurity category:

3rd place- Lachlan Hoggard and Dane Napier, Rotorua Lakes High School

2nd Place- Archie Graham, Giselle Yee, Vienna Ropotini, Koki Hara, and Aurora Flay Bourkram, Lynmore School

1st Place- Lachlan Hoggard, Rotorua Lakes High School


3rd Place- Ellie Smith, Sophie Bell, Tegan Auld and Candice Chen, Lynmore School

2nd Place- Calais Eru, Peter Hawkins, Moewhare Butler, K.C Goodfellow, and Dante Teka-Corbett, Kaitao School

1st Place- Siwan Lloyd-Jones, Rotorua Lakes High School

Water Quality:

3rd Place- Hunter Russell and Prince Ocana, Malfroy School

2nd Place- Emma Pol, Rotorua Lakes High School

1st Place- Liam Heighway, Rotorua Lakes High School

Mātauranga Maōri:

3rd Place- Haylee Wilson and Lucas Howes, Kaitao School

2nd Place- Jennika Kumar and Riley Cameron-Dyde, Malfroy School

1st Place- Amelia Foote-Webb, Malfroy School

Sustainability Category:

3rd Place- Zayed Imtiyas, Malfroy School

2nd Place- Christian Foote-Webb and James Collins, Malfroy School

1st Place- Alexander Malcom, Mokoia Intermediate

Recipient of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council Te Mana o te Wai Enhancement Supreme Award: Liam Heighway

Recipient of the Scion Ngā Huarahi ki Te Ao Award- Alexander Malcom

Recipient of the Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand Award for Excellence in a project focused on the whenua- Siwan Lloyd-Jones

Recipient of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust Ngā Karu Atua Supreme Award- Alexander Malcom.