Hands-on science education

Fifty senior secondary school pupils from throughout the country have converged on Dunedin for the 10th anniversary of a national science education camp.

"We try to give them the same opportunity that high school pupils have in major urban areas, such as access to science centres," University of Otago programme director Steve Broni said.

The focus of the Otago University Advanced School Sciences Academy was on potentially high-achieving science pupils and their teachers from rural, provincial and lower-decile schools throughout the country.

"We’ve targeted what we consider to be the areas of greatest need for the past 10 years," Mr Broni said.

Steph Bartlett (17), of Kerikeri High School, Northland, takes part in a genetic education...
Steph Bartlett (17), of Kerikeri High School, Northland, takes part in a genetic education session in the University of Otago biochemistry department yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

The academy had operated initially on a trial basis for the first three years but now was fully funded by the university.


Because of the demand for academy places, he would like to expand the intake to about 80, but needed to attract further sponsorship to achieve that.

The pupils yesterday simulated solving a crime using DNA analysis, and undertook genetic research.

Apart from the week-long programme for pupils, the academy also offers a three-day residential professional development and learning programme for teachers, and 24 are attending.

The same pupils will return to Dunedin in July for a week-long winter educational camp.

The goal was to boost their ability to excel in the final year of secondary school science and prepare them for tertiary study.

Since its first intake in 2011, nearly 600 pupils had completed the programme and more than 90% went on to some form of tertiary education, he said.

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