From a glove which controls computers to bikes made from bamboo, the finalists in this years' BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards cover a diverse range of science and engineering that can teach us all a little something about innovation.

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The winners of the awards will be announced in Melbourne next week by the Chief Executive Officer of BHP Billiton, Andrew Mackenzie, and CSIRO Chief Executive, Megan Clark.

Ben Beagley from Victoria’s St Kevin’s College has been selected as a finalist in the awards for developing an organic light-weight bamboo bike.

Using the bamboo in his garage, Ben designed and constructed a cheaper alternative to the traditional bike that uses the strength and flexibility of bamboo to replace heavy, industrial metal components

Jake Coppinger from Canberra has come up with The Swirlesque, a wearable glove which allows the user to make natural gestures for human-computer interaction and perform actions.

Swirlesque detects hand gestures and acts upon them in intelligent ways such as controlling a music player on a smartphone, control a computer, a TV, a home media centre, or a light bulb.

Other finalists include an app to warn drivers of approaching emergency vehicles, removing nutrients and pollutants using wetland plants, and a forward facing rowing machine.

“Science will always be at the core of understanding how we address human, environmental and business challenges while engineering helps us find the way to do it,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“That’s why we have supported these awards for over 30 years.

“As a global natural resources company, scientists and engineers are an integral part of our present and future, and fundamental to the ongoing development of society.”

Since 1981 the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been Australia's most prestigious school science awards.

The awards reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects, which demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures.

“This year’s finalists are tackling at high school some things that are being tackled in leading research laboratories,” Dr Clark said.

“They have taken on great challenges, like wireless power transmission, bamboo bikes, food production,  pollution and helping stroke victims to recover. They inspire  us with their courage.

“We are proud to be associated with our partners BHP Billiton and the Australian Science Teachers Association.”

The awards are sponsored by BHP Billiton and are managed by CSIRO and are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association. The awards are also supported by Intel Corporation.

The winners of the awards will be announced at a presentation held in Melbourne at Zinc in Federation Square on Tuesday, February 4th from 11am to 2pm. Media are invited to attend.

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  • Liam Grieve watering plants

    Liam Grieve: the most promising young scientist of 2013.  ©Liam Grieve

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  • Liam’s working to create healthier waterways.

    Liam’s Troubled Waters project could be the key to creating healthier waterways.  ©Liam Grieve

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  • Head and shoulders of Jake Coppinger wearing a white tee shirt.

    Jake Coppinger is one bright spark.  ©Sharon Coppinger

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  • Jake’s Swirlesque glove in action.

    Jake’s Swirlesque glove in action.  ©Jake Coppinger

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  • Jack Allison with his very proud mum.

    Jack Allison with his very proud mum.  ©Jack Allison

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  • Jack showing off his skills on the BMX trail.

    Jack showing off his skills on the BMX trail.  ©Jack Allison

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  • Ben on his first mini bike built out of recycled materials.

    Ben built his first mini bike out of recycled materials.  ©Ben Beagley

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  • An organic bamboo bike

    The finished product – Ben’s organic bamboo bike.  ©Ben Beagley

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