Our Isaac fol­low­ing Gates’ foot­steps

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Bill Gates was just 13 when he de­signed his first com­puter soft­ware pro­gramme.

Now Auck­land high school stu­dent Isaac Mercer is fol­low­ing closely in the foot­steps of the Mi­crosoft mogul.

The 13-year-old has de­vel­oped the aptly-named Net­book Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem, which can be down­loaded free from his web­site.

‘‘I wanted to cre­ate an al­ter­na­tive to Win­dows for net­books and older com­put­ers that runs faster and still looks good,’’ the year 8 stu­dent says.

One of the ben­e­fits of his op­er­at­ing sys­tem is that it has built-in an­tivirus soft­ware.

His pro­gramme has al­ready had 168 down­loads from 23 coun­tries around the world.

‘‘I haven’t had any feed­back yet, but my mum has used it and thinks it’s bet­ter than Win­dows 8,’’ he says.

Isaac’s pro­ject saw him re­ceive a joint first prize at the Niwa Auck- land Science & Tech­nol­ogy Fair awards cer­e­mony this week.

The an­nual fair, which is held at the Fick­ing Cen­tre in Three Kings, cel­e­brates the ex­cel­lence in sci­en­tific and tech­no­log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion car­ried out by year 7 to year 13 stu­dents.

The win­ner of the pre­mier award was Auck­land Nor­mal In­ter­me­di­ate pupil Ella Buchanan.

Ella im­pressed the judges with her ‘‘orig­i­nal and creative’’ pro­ject Yeasts Feast On Sugar And Sound.

The year 8 stu­dent looked at recipes con­tain­ing dif­fer­ent types of sugar and com­pared how long it took for mea­sured amounts to pro­duce 100ml of car­bon diox­ide.

Af­ter learn­ing that wine­mak­ers have used sound waves to stim­u­late yeast, she de­cided to use dif­fer­ent sound fre­quen­cies gen­er­ated through her iPod to de­ter­mine whether they would have a sim­i­lar ef­fect on yeast used in bak­ing.

Her pro­ject beat more than 260 other en­tries to take the top award and $600 in prize money.

Fair co-or­gan­iser Roberta Bastis­tich says the level of projects this year was out­stand­ing.

‘‘The stu­dents are so in­no­va­tive. It al­ways in­trigues me how they come up with some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery year,’’ she says.

Other top­ics ex­am­ined by the stu­dents in­cluded the ef­fec­tive­ness of An­chor’s triple-layer milk bot­tles and the dan­ger of per­sonal laser point­ers.

The judg­ing panel com­prises ex­pe­ri­enced sci­en­tists and tech­nol­o­gists rep­re­sent­ing in­sti­tutes in­clud­ing Auck­land Univer­sity, Star­dome, Niwa and Mo­tat.

Visit nos.isaac­scom­put­er­tips.com to down­load a copy of Net­book Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem.

Go to sci­fair.org.nz for the full re­sults.

Pho­tos: DANIELLE STREET

Com­puter smarts: Isaac Mercer, 13, de­signed a com­puter op­er­at­ing sys­tem that is an al­ter­na­tive to Win­dows, but ‘‘still looks good’’.

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