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