High-school students test science careers

11 February 2014
Lawrence De Burgh from Hastings and Emily Welch from St Peters College Gore

Emily Welch from St Peters College, Gore, and Lawrence De Burgh from Havelock North High School admire a solution of a green fluorescent protein they produced during a workshop for budding scientists held at the School of Biological Sciences with the support of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.

Lawrence and Emily were among 150 Year 12 students from all over New Zealand who gathered in Auckland in January for the Rotary National Science & Technology Forum, a two-week residential course for high-achieving science and technology students that provides an insight into a broad range of science careers. 

The students came from schools all over the country. Activities ranged from three-hour technical workshops hosted by the University of Auckland, AUT, Massey University (Albany) and also Melbourne’s RMIT, through to visits to technology companies like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Navman, Television New Zealand, Air New Zealand and ESR.

The social side of life wasn’t ignored – the group, which stayed at University Hall, also formed a choir, a drama group and an orchestra. They enjoyed a day exploring Auckland, a day at the beach, and a formal dinner whose keynote speaker was University of Auckland vision researcher Professor Charles McGhee.

Milford Rotary's Forum Director Peter Best says that high-achieving students are recommended by their schools, and are then interviewed and selected by their local Rotary clubs. Students receive part-sponsorship from Rotary.

Mr Best says that the forum has been very successful in developing and motivating the next generation of scientists. “They return home with a sense of purpose and a confidence to succeed,” he says. “Their time at the forum is also the beginning of their awareness of the concept of community service and involvement. They invariably acquit themselves incredibly well and aren't afraid to get involved.”

Below: The things you can do with glow-in-the-dark bacteria … pictures from the students’ SBS workshop.

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