Science academy gets down to earth

A geology field trip to Brighton yesterday showed the value of a Dunedin programme which is aimed at strengthening rural science education, organisers said.

Director Steve Broni said the University of Otago’s annual Advanced School Sciences Academy had been running since 2011, and aimed to support science education in rural and provincial areas.

A total of 51 secondary school pupils and nine secondary science teachers were taking part in the latest academy gathering in Dunedin this week, Mr Broni said.

Otago geology department Teaching Fellow Sophie Briggs said yesterday’s field trip to Brighton Beach, near Dunedin, had gone ‘‘really well’’ for her and six participating teachers.

University of Otago geology department teaching fellow Dr Sophie Briggs (centre left) explains the features of Haast schist at Brighton beach, near Dunedin, to teachers (from left) Socorro Lakaga (St Kevin’s College), Alison Waller (Opotiki College), Shob
University of Otago geology department teaching fellow Dr Sophie Briggs (centre left) explains the features of Haast schist at Brighton beach, near Dunedin, to teachers (from left) Socorro Lakaga (St Kevin’s College), Alison Waller (Opotiki College), Shobhana Bir (South Otago High School), Ange Fox (South Westland Area School), Zara Heath (Aparima College) and Brigid Fyall (Karanga Mai Young Parents College, Kaiapoi High School). Photo: Gerard O'Brien

‘‘I had a wonderful time showing off some of Dunedin’s geological features and telling stories about Zealandia’s history,’’ Dr Briggs said.

It was enjoyable teaching in the field, and and the teachers were ‘‘really engaged’’, she said.

Participants had discussed activities that could be brought back to the classroom and she hoped the teachers were ‘‘inspired to bring more earth science topics into their curriculum’’.

Mr Broni said the academy, initially run as a three-year pilot programme, had opened up ‘‘a world of possibilities’’ for potentially high-achieving year 13 pupils from rural-provincial, small or lower decile schools.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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