Science experience for pupils

First we had ''Think Big'' - now there is ''Seeing Small''.

More than 230 senior secondary pupils from throughout New Zealand will soon converge on Dunedin for the University of Otago's latest annual ''Hands-on-Science'' school, which starts this weekend. And for the first time they will share meals and social events with about 15 other pupils attending a Dunedin ''Nanocamp'', organised by the McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology involves the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale.

Among highlights of the week-long summer science school is a public lecture on ''Seeing Small'' being given by Prof Richard Blaikie, the Otago research and enterprise deputy vice-chancellor, at the university's St David Lecture Theatre at 7.30pm on Monday. Prof Blaikie is a physicist specialising in aspects of nanoscience and is a former institute director.

Pupils taking part in the 24th school will be based at a range of university departments, each pupil undertaking a week-long research project.

''It means they can actually see how science works,'' school co-ordinator Rose Newburn said.

Two pupils from Samoa were also taking part. Nanoscience was a ''very rapidly developing area'' and many Otago departments were involved with some aspects of it.

The school had long proved successful for several reasons, including that it offered ''a really good balance of science and social stuff'', she said.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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