Meet Pippa, nine, whose school science project brought 128 NSW councils to heel

Nine-year-old Pippa Kennard set herself a daunting challenge when embarking on her latest science project.

The Oatley West Public School student rang all 128 councils in NSW to compile a list of the most popular breeds in every local government area.

For her efforts, Pippa has won her category in the Young Scientists awards presented by the Science School Teachers Association.

Pippa phones 128 councils for science project.

“We got a new puppy, a Border Collie cross Kelpie called Bounty and I just wanted to know what kind of dogs lived in our street,” Pippa said.

Then she started wondering what kind of dogs lived in other parts of NSW.

“I started ringing a few vets but decided there were too many,” Pippa said.

“I thought we could go to the boss of the local government association and get a list but they told me I would have to ring each council in NSW.

“So I contacted every council and asked them what was the most popular breed in the area. Some got back straight away with a list while others we had to contact again and again.

“I learned how to use Excel by watching YouTube and started entering the numbers under different dog breeds.

“I then consolidated these. If I had red cattle dogs and blue cattle dogs I would just call them cattle dogs.

“I got a map of NSW with each council and colour-coded each of the most popular breeds. Each council has its most popular dog on the map.

“If I had to say which was the most popular dog I would have to say Maltese,” she said.

The map shows a lot of green in the far west for Kelpies. The city areas are blue for Maltese.

Cattle dogs are the most popular breed in far northern NSW. Jack Russells are the most popular breed in southern NSW along the Victorian border.

Bull Terriers are the most popular on the South Coast and parts of the far north coast, while Labradors are the most popular in the Hay Shire, as well as further west along the Victorian border.

In Sydney the Maltese rules except out at Campbelltown and Blacktown where the Bull Terrier is the most popular breed.

The Poodle rules in the northern reaches of the Hills Shire and in the eastern suburbs while the Border Collie is the most popular along the Hawkesbury.

Pippa’s father, Richard, said she was tenacious in pursuing their information.

“She had to make her phone calls before or after school. Most days she would call two or three councils,” he said,

“She developed a confidence over time. She got good at how to ask to be transferred to different departments and could tell when she was being fobbed off.

“Some councils were very helpful and thought it was great to deal with an (then) eight-year-old girl and others weren’t interested in helping her.

“The main thing was that no-one had ever done this type of research before.

“Blue Mountains Council was very helpful. She asked them how they got their list of dog breeds together and then went to the other councils and told them how  to do it.”

For her efforts, Pippa has won her Primary Scientific Investigation Category for Years 3 to 6 in the 2017 Young Scientists Award, a major project of the Science Teachers’ Association of NSW (STANSW).

The awards will be presented at the University of Wollongong on November 1.

Pippa said that when she grows up she would like to do something that involved talking.

“I liked the project because I could talk to people over the phone,” she said.

And the main lesson Pippa learnt from her research?

“Big projects take a long time and if you give up you don’t get anywhere,” she said.