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For most of us mushrooms are tasty topping on pizza, but for Marlborough Boys' College student Tom Morgan they hold the potential to help those suffering from osteoporosis.

Studying mushrooms and their ability to create vitamin D2 last night earned him the title of supreme award winner in the Marlborough Lines Science and Technology Fair.

The year 13 student spent more than six months working on his project, which involved measuring the amount of vitamin D2 in oyster mushrooms after being exposed to UV light.

"It is a substitute for vitamin D3, which your body makes when exposed to sunlight. The lack of it is one of the causes of rickets and osteoporosis, and osteoporosis is actually a big issue among elderly people in New Zealand, which really surprised me," Tom said.

The main aim of his project, which was on display at the Marlborough Lines Stadium 2000 in Blenheim, was to measure the levels of the vitamin in mushrooms without the use of very expensive equipment and chemicals.

The work required him to wade through pages of scientific research that had been done in the same field so as to develop a testing method.

In the end he adapted methods developed by other researchers as well as developing two steps of his own.

According to his research, he was the first person to test <a href="" title="Dried Mushrooms"><strong>Dried Mushrooms</strong></a> in this way.

Tom admitted the project was rather complicated and required a high workload, but his interest in the subject kept him going.

"Finally figuring it out was like a real eureka moment, it was great," he said.

He thanked his chemistry teacher, Sally Withers, for her support and encouragement.

Her hard work with students was evident as his class submitted the largest number of entries for one class.

While many of Tom's friends wanted to become doctors, he hoped to go in a slightly different direction working in the bio-medical sector of mechanical engineering.

"I'm really keen to help people, but do it on an engineering level.

"I wasn't sure if I stood a chance of winning the fair but I'm really stoked I did.

"It was a lot of work but it was quite enjoyable too," Tom said.

For winning the supreme award he earned a $1000 scholarship from Marlborough Lines to put in a trust for his tertiary studies.
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