Curious minds buzzing from Hawke’s Bay Science Camp23/06/2016
The recent Primary Science Week was the perfect opportunity for Hawke’s Bay year seven and eight students and their teachers to get hands-on with science and technology.
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 programme to run a two-day Science and Technology Camp.
The camp, which was a huge success, was attended by 147 students, 22 teachers, four teacher aides and nine parents from schools in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and Central Hawke’s Bay.
Jenny Dee, a member of the Branch Council who organised the camp, says the highlight for her was seeing the enthusiasm of all the participants across the ten half-day workshops.
“The goal was to engage students so they returned to school buzzing with excitement—and with a better understanding of the relevance of science and technology to their everyday lives”, she says. “We were also hoping to inspire teachers to run similar activities in schools, and to raise awareness of the support available to them from science and technology-based organisations in the community”.
At the camp, these organisations collaborated to run a wide variety of workshops, covering everything from ecology to engineering, robotics to the solar system, and geology to electromagnetism.
One particular highlight was the session run by Outreach Coordinator John Barrow from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. He taught the students to make Bristlebots, a simple form of walking robot, and also helped them to build more advanced robots using Arduino - tiny, portable computers.
“It was a real eye-opener to experience first-hand the science and technology buzz happening among school students”, says John. “Technology like this is a big part of their world, so let’s get them to play with it, own it and make it brilliant”.
Karen Hogg, a teacher at Taradale Intermediate, agrees. She says the students learnt that there was a huge range of sciences they could get involved in.
“They were keen to get stuck into the hands-on learning, such as experiencing the night sky at the planetarium, the wildlife at the estuary, electricity and magnetism, geology—and even programming”, she says. “They also learnt to work with students from other schools, communicate their thinking and take risks”.
Many teachers shared Karen’s viewpoint, sending feedback to organisers to say that their students gained a lot of new knowledge and were excited to share their experiences with their classmates back at school.
“We wanted to offer them the opportunity to develop a passion for science,” Karen continues. “It’s great for them to foster an awareness of where it can take them, such as to university, to future employment—and beyond!”
The camp was so popular that many are hoping it will take place again in the future.
Special thanks to our providers for the following workshops:
- 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; and
- EIT School of Computing – Vex robotics.
Special thanks to the students, teachers, teacher aides and parents from:
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
As well as funding from MBIE, we gratefully 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
By Jennifer Niven, School of Engineering and Computer Science, Victoria University
Image: HB RSNZ