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

Science Teaching Leadership Programme

Science Teaching Leadership Programme –
Professional development opportunities for Year 1 to 10 science teachers

Launched in January 2015, the Science Teaching Leadership Programme provides opportunities for primary schools and secondary science departments to enhance the teaching of science within school communities. The programme, funded by MBIE, is managed by the Royal Society of New Zealand and supports A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara, the Government’s national strategic plan for science in society.

To date two teachers from Hawke’s Bay are participating in the programme – Murray Gosling and Sarah Hope, both of whom are teachers at Hastings Intermediate School.

An integral part of the programme is a 6 month placement (Phase One) for participant teachers in a host organisation that uses science in a significant part of their work. This placement is vital for teachers to develop their understanding of science in action and how this links to the Nature of Science strand in the New Zealand National Curriculum. Murray completed Phase One during the first half of 2015, and Sarah is on Phase One for the second half of 2016.

Murray was hosted by the Entomology team at Plant and Food Research (PFR) in Havelock North, where he was involved in strategies to control pest populations in horticulture. Murray trialled a computer programme to count insects trapped on a sticky board – a lot quicker than a human doing the job! In June 2015, he demonstrated his work to a group of senior secondary students and teachers visiting PFR to get an insight into science-based careers.

PFR Murray Gosling 2 bridges 3

During Phase Two of the Programme (12 – 18 months), back at school participant teachers and schools work together to improve science teaching and student learning. They also foster relationships between science organisations and school communities, so students have relevant contexts for their science learning.

In May 2016, Murray participated in a Science & Technology Camp for Year 7 and 8 students and their teachers, run by the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society, with funding from MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund. Over the two days, Murray ran 4 workshops on the science of bridge design. Students learnt about the different structures that bridges are made from and how the weight of vehicles is distributed as they travel across the bridge. The students then designed and built their own truss bridges, using only wooden stirrers and hot melt glue. The strongest bridge survived a hanging weight of 12kg! The workshops were supported by young structural engineers from local businesses, who described the application of maths and science in their work, and brought along equipment they use in their jobs.


Sarah Hope is being hosted by the Crop Production and Pipfruit Breeding teams at Plant and Food Research (PFR). With the Crop Production team, she’ll be participating in research trials of various vegetables, including beetroot and onions. The objective of these trials is to understand how seed quality affects quality of the harvested vegetable, which is very important for improved export returns. In the Pipfruit Breeding team, Sarah will be involved in the pollination process: she’ll be hand-pollinating apples and pears to produce specific genetic crosses, with the goal of developing new varieties of fruit with improved characteristics – both for orchardists and consumers. The aim of Sarah’s placement is simple: to develop an on-going relationship with PFR, and use the leadership skills and science knowledge she develops to design enhanced science programmes for students with ‘real world’ contexts.Aquarium 4


Applications are now open for schools wanting to begin Phase One of the programme in either term one 2017 or term 3 2017 (this start date is subject to government funding). Applications for this round will close on Thursday 8 September 2016. For details, refer:

Curious Minds Science Camp May 2016

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Year 7 & 8 Science and Technology Camp, 17 and 18 May 2016

The Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand 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 2016.

Over the two days, students, teachers and parents from 15 schools in Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay, attended four half-day, hands-on workshops on a variety of science and technology subjects, related to the world around them.

  • National Aquarium of New Zealand – life processes, ecology and evolution
  • GNS Science and East Coast LAB – rocks, fossils and earthquakes
  • Faraday Centre and Jenny Wake from MTG – electricity and magnetism. This workshop was supported by electrical and mechanical engineers from ABB, Compac, Haden & Custance and Unison, who described modern applications of this technology in their work.
  • Victoria University School of Engineering and Computer Science – “Bristlebots” and build your own robot using Arduino
  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council – “Clearing the Air”
  • Hans Rook and John Cheyne, with support from the Department of Conservation – the Ahuriri Estuary: a haven for birds
  • Holt Planetarium – our solar system
  • Murray Gosling (2015 Science Teaching Leadership Programme) – the science of bridge design. This workshop was supported by structural engineers from the Hastings District Council, MWH, Opus and Strata Group, who described aspects of bridge science they apply in their work.
  • EIT School of Viticulture and Wine Science – the science of yeast fermentation
  • EIT School of Computing – Vex robotics.

Faraday 2Photo 1

146 students, 22 teachers, 4 teacher aides and 9 parents from the following schools participated in the Camp:

Flaxmere Primary School • Hastings Intermediate School • Havelock North Intermediate School • Maraekakaho School • Napier Intermediate School • Ongaonga School • Peterhead School • St Mary’s School • St Patrick’s School • Tamatea Intermediate School • Taradale Intermediate School • The Terrace School, Waipukurau • Twyford School • Waipawa School • Waipukurau School

Photo 7The students and teachers returned to school with a better understanding of science and technology, and its relevance to their everyday lives. Here’s some of the feedback we received from the teachers:

  • Just wanted to thank you and your team for an outstanding two days of learning. Our kids loved all their workshops and were buzzing about all the things they had learnt. We met some fascinating people, passionate about their areas of expertise. This was a wonderful opportunity.
  • Many thanks for the last couple of days.  The kids were buzzing on returning to school today and were sharing their new learning and excitement with their teachers and classmates!  I will organise for them to share a presentation with the school/learning teams as well.  Would love to participate again if this is available next year!?!
  • Firstly thank you for the opportunity; I had 4 students and a teacher that were fizzing from the experience.  I hope this event is repeated next year as it was a fantastic opportunity. Congratulations to you and your team for an awesome camp.
  • Thanks for an awesome two days. We all loved the experiences.
  • Our 4 students had an amazing time and they were so happy to be involved in such a range of activities. Thank you once again for this opportunity, we will be in “boots and all” next year.
  • Thanks for having us over the 2 days. The kids loved it and gained a lot of new knowledge.
  • Thanks so much for all your superb organisation. The kids had a fantastic 2 days, and returned to school buzzing.
  • Thank you for organizing such an amazing couple of days.  I learnt so much and so did the children.
  • They had two days of fantastic learning experiences thank you.
  • Thank you very much for organising the two days. The children loved attending the courses and enjoyed the ‘hands on’ approach. I am meeting with them tomorrow so they can organise thank you emails, a school newsletter article and a school assembly short presentation.
  • Thanks for offering the Science and technology camps to us.   We have come away with a wealth of knowledge and have already shared some learning with our class.
  • I want to thank-you so much for the most wonderful two days for our students and all the adults attending. To me there was a perfect balance of presenting and interactive learning activities for our kids … they were captivated and inspired from the beginning to the end, in the 4 workshops I attended.   Every scientist / presenter was so contagiously passionate about their field of expertise … just brilliant.
  • Thanks again for a wonderful experience. We will share the student presentations about this when they are completed.

Faraday Mitch 1 (768x1024)Photo 2

As well as funding from MBIE, we received support, financially or in kind, from the following individuals and organisations:

ABB Limited • Compac • Department of Conservation • Eastbridge Engineering • East Coast LAB • EIT School of Computing • EIT School of Viticulture and Wine Science • Faraday Centre • Futureintech • GNS Science • Haden & Custance • Hans Rook • Hastings District Council • Hastings Intermediate School • Hawke’s Bay Branch of IPENZ • Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society of NZ • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council • HB Youth Futures Trust • Holt Planetarium • John Cheyne • JuiceWorks Limited • Little Red Robot Design • Massey University • MTG Hawke’s Bay • Murray Gosling • MWH New Zealand Ltd • Napier Boys High School • Napier City Council • Napier Intermediate School • Napier Sailing Club • National Aquarium of New Zealand • Opus International Consultants • Page Bloomer Associates • Strata Group Consulting Engineers • Unison • Victoria University School of Engineering and Computer Science • WeaveIT Limited

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Siouxsie Wiles’ visit to HB Schools

Havelock North Int 4Karamu 1

In March, the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the Royal Society hosted a two day visit by Dr Siouxsie Wiles. Siouxsie is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, where she combines her twin passions for glowing creatures and nasty microbes, to better understand antibiotic-resistant superbugs and find new medicines to kill them. Siouxsie is passionate about demystifying science for the general public, and raising awareness of the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Siouxsie visited 3 intermediate schools and 6 secondary schools, where she busted some myths about scientists (very few wear white coats and work in labs), and talked about the important role of microbes in producing foods like cheese and yoghurt. Then she talked about bioluminescence, and how glow worms, fireflies and anglerfish use it to attract prey or find a mate, and other sea creatures use it to camouflage themselves.

The Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at Auckland University is using bioluminescence to look for new antibiotics. The lab is screening Landcare Research’s collection of 9,000 New Zealand fungi, in the search for new antibiotics that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria (superbugs), like MRSA. The genes that produce bioluminescence are inserted into the DNA of these bacteria; when the bacteria are alive, they glow blue in the dark; when they are dead, they don’t. Using this technique, they can determine if a fungus growing on a petri dish is producing something which kills superbugs. If it is, the fungus is sent to Siouxsie’s collaborators at the university’s chemistry department, who freeze-dry it and make extracts from the remains. The extracts are then retested against the superbugs to see if they are still able to kill them. If so, the team will work on identifying the chemical in the fungus that is responsible for killing the superbug. To date, the Lab has screened 150 fungi, and found over 30 that are able to kill at least one of the four superbugs they are tested against. These are currently being freeze-dried and extracted for further testing.

Siouxsie’s visit was very well received, and 2 schools donated to her research. Here’s some of the feedback:

From a teacher at an intermediate school: “Thanks so very much for organising Siouxsie’s visit.  What a wonderful experience for us all.  The students’ discussion, following your leaving, reflected just how much they learned and also that they very much appreciated the opportunity.  We all think Siouxsie is amazing, very cool indeed and are impressed that she is working so hard to find solutions to a pending disaster in the world of medicine.  Lots of the kids are very keen to advance their science experiences … and this has made them even more passionate …  just what we want. They went back to their classes bubbling to their teachers that they loved their afternoon.”

From a senior student: “It definitely demonstrated how fun and exciting it can be if you find a topic or area you’re interested in and pursue it as a career. I know that it gave me and probably many others the insight into how there are many different areas of science you can study and you don’t have to be a geek!”

From a biology teacher: “Thank you for organising the visit, the students and teachers loved it. Please pass on our thanks to Siouxsie, she is very passionate about her work and it certainly shows. Students said that they had a new perception of bacteria and fungi. Great to see a real scientist at work.”

From an intermediate teacher: “I love that she was not at all conventional as far as children’s perceptions of scientists go.”

From a science teacher: “I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and felt there was a great deal there to get the students thinking.”