Monthly Archives: April 2017

Why are Bees so Awesome?

Tuesday 23 May 2017 at 6.00pm
Lecture Theatre 2, EIT, Gloucester Street, Taradale
Admission by gold coin donationProfessor Peter Dearden
Director of Genetics, Biochemistry Department, University of Otago

Honeybees are a vital part of our agricultural production, but also a remarkable example of the product of evolution. Bees have their own social system, symbolic language, produce different castes and build extravagant structures. Bees are also under threat from insecticides, pests and diseases.

In this talk Peter will discuss both his fundamental research into how the honeybee social system evolved, but also what we need to do to save the honeybees of the world.  He might even tell how honeybees might save us!

In 2014, Peter was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Callaghan medal for science communication.

Our thanks to the University of Otago for their support.

Science Technology Camp 15-18 May 2017

Year 7 & 8 Science and Technology Camp, 15 to 18 May 2017, Hawke’s Bay

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand has, once again, received funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund, to run a Science and Technology Camp for Year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, during Primary Science Week in May 2017.

Over the four days, approximately 170 Year 7 and 8 students, accompanied by teachers and parents, from 11 schools in Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay, will attend one or two-day hands-on workshops on a variety of science and technology subjects, related to the world around them. They will return to school with a better understanding of maths, science and technology, and its relevance to their everyday lives.

The following three workshops will be on offer:

Geology workshop (2 days)

Venue: National Aquarium of New Zealand

Run by: Julian Thomson from GNS Science, assisted by Carol Larson from the Aquarium, and Kate Boersen from East Coast LAB.

Topic: The students will spend the first day at the Aquarium, investigating the geology of New Zealand and Hawke’s Bay, and its consequences. The students will use resources from all three organisations, to study sedimentary rocks and fossils, and volcanic rocks and faults / earthquakes. On the second day they will take a field trip to a local site with varied geology, and use their new knowledge in inquiry-style investigations.

Bridge Science workshop (1 day)

Run by: Murray Gosling, a teacher at Hastings Intermediate School, who was on the 2015 Science Teaching Leadership Programme, assisted by land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies.

Topic: The students will learn about land surveying and how it is involved in bridge design, use a theodolite to survey a location for a hypothetical bridge, visit a bridge, investigate why bridges are not all the same design, and how their design and construction is based on maths and science. They will design, build and test their own bridges. Land surveyors and bridge engineers from local companies will be involved in the workshop.

Horticultural science workshop (1 day)

Venue: Plant & Food Research, Crosses Road, Havelock North

Run by: Scientists from Plant & Food Research, including Dr Jeff Reid, for many years Chief Judge of the Hawke’s Bay Science & Technology Fair, assisted by Sarah Hope, a teacher from Hastings Intermediate School, who worked at Plant & Food Research last year whilst on the 2016 Science Teaching Leadership Programme.

Topics: The workshop will comprise 3 activities, which will introduce students to some of the maths and science that underpins horticulture in Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand. The 3 groups will rotate around the 3 activities during the day. They will:

  • compare soil health in different locations in the orchard;
  • conduct physical, chemical and sensory analysis of a variety of apples which are involved in the pipfruit breeding programme;
  • identify pests and diseases which affect commercial crops in New Zealand.

We thank the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for their support

Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger

In March 2017, the Hawke’s Bay Branch hosted a visit by Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, Director of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics at Massey University in Auckland. Peter made time to visit three secondary schools in the region, to talk to physics and chemistry students and their teachers about a diverse range of topics, including the newest elements in the periodic table, the composition of atoms, the fundamental forces and particles, the standard model, and the search for a unified theory. But all this was delivered with a sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm that captured his audience’s imagination and at a level that year 12 and 13 students could comprehend. As Albert Einstein said (and Peter quoted) “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

Here are his presentation slides