Baxter’s pressure point a hit online in US

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Baxter’s pressure point a hit online in US

Katie Holland | Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:04

WHIZZ KID: Rotorua's Baxter Johnson is a finalist in an international online science fair.WHIZZ KID: Rotorua’s Baxter Johnson is a finalist in an international online science fair. 

Ben Fraser

With a pile of bricks, a water container and a hottie, Baxter Johnson has made the final of an American-based science competition.

The Rotorua 10-year-old yesterday sat second in his age group in the online CurrClick Science Fair with his project on water pressure. Site users vote for the best project and by yesterday Baxter had 117 votes, with just two days to go.

“The other boy is about 100 votes ahead of me so it’s quite a lot to make up,” Baxter said.

Homeschooled Baxter’s project was inspired by film-maker James Cameron’s recent deep-sea dive.

“He went down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Of course there’s a lot of pressure down there because it’s really low so that’s what got me thinking about it,” he said.

With a hypothesis “the higher the water container, the more the pressure” Baxter enlisted the help of parents Maree Johnson and Rob Ronald and his five younger siblings to set up the experiment. It was a day-long effort involving 150 bricks, a 20 litre container, a tap, a hot water bottle and a bit of Kiwi ingenuity.

Mr Ronald scaled their two-storey home with the water container, feeding a hose down through a tap into an empty hot water bottle placed under the bricks. It took at least 10 attempts before the hypothesis was proved and they were ready for filming, which meant a lot of restacking.

Ms Johnson said they were delighted with how far Baxter had got.

“For us it was the absolute novelty – the only Kiwi and he’s in the final. We really didn’t expect it,” she said.

Baxter and his siblings study through sites such as CurrClick as well as having lessons with Ms Johnson. They are up at 5am to begin online classes on the American sites.

As well as smashing bricks, Baxter enjoys history, geography, chemistry, astronomy and is learning Spanish and Mandarin. With so many options, the all-rounder is still deciding on his future career.

“Maybe an engineer because I like to design buildings,” he said. “But I love politics as well and I like planes.”

View Baxter’s entry here. To vote you must register on the site, which is free.


From the Smiths:

Updated 25 March 2012: Life for Those Left Behind (Craig Smith’s Health) page 6 click here


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