DiscoveryCamp and NanoCamp - Annual Report 2018

News & events

DiscoveryCamp and NanoCamp - Annual Report 2018

8 April, 2019

Students at DiscoveryCamp

The annual NanoCamp and DiscoveryCamp for Year 12 and 13 secondary school students are hugely popular and attract many more applications than there are places available. The five day, all-expenses-paid residential programmes give students an opportunity to learn about nanoscience through lectures and lab experience with MacDiarmid Institute investigators.

The DiscoveryCamp programme is for Māori and Pacific Island students to enhance their science knowledge, inspire a love of discovery and help them carve out a career in science. Designed for Māori and Pacific Island students in their final years of high school, MacDiarmid Institute DiscoveryCamp - Te Tohu Huraina - is an annual programme, now in its tenth year, where students from all around the country gather to do real research with the country's leading scientists from the MacDiarmid Institute.

It is well documented that Māori and Pacific Island peoples are under-represented in New Zealand across the sciences. DiscoveryCamp aims to enhance their interest in science, and provide a real understanding of what a career in science looks like.

DiscoveryCamp alumni have told us the programme also plays a significant role in Māori students appreciation of their culture's place in science.

Danielle Sword (Muaūpoko, Te Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Tahu) is now in her final semester of a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. Four years ago her chemistry teacher urged her to attend DiscoveryCamp.

I'd say it was one of the key moments in my life. It was an eye opener. It influenced and inspired me to take that science path.

Danielle Sword

As the completion of her undergraduate degree approaches, Sword is deciding whether to pursue further study. She's seen the way her understanding of tikanga Māori has informed her understanding of her discipline, and she is interested in pursuing research that considers the potential Māori science has to intersect with Western science, and what both cultures have to offer each other.

"For Māori, I do know there is this other side, there's science, then there is this Māori science. They don't fully meet together but one of my goals is to bring it into my western science practices," she says.

In January 2019, 10 DiscoveryCampers and 18 NanoCampers learned about nature at the smallest scales through hands-on nanotechnology experiments in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering. Campers made icecream in the lab, or created dye-sensitive solar cells, and some also made chocolate from 3D printed food-grade silicon moulds.

NanoCamp - University of Canterbury - 18 students (hosted by Associate Professor Martin Allen)

DiscoveryCamp - University of Otago - 5 students (hosted by Professor Keith Gordon)

DiscoveryCamp - Massey University - 5 students (hosted by Associate Investigator Dr Catherine Whitby)

DiscoveryCamp Alumni Research Assistantships

We again offered summer scholarships to our DiscoveryCamp alumni. These are aimed at Māori and Pacific Island undergraduates, and provide research-related work opportunities over the December-February period - Two three-month scholarships of a value of ($6000) were awarded and the alumni were based in Wellington (Victoria University of Wellington and GNS Science).

This summer, one of our scholarship holders worked on the project relating to our Whakarewarewa Thermal Village partnership. This included on-site visits and regular meetings at the village.

The entire experience has really opened my eyes to new paths of science that I have never even imagined.

Tamiara Barcham DiscoveryCamp Otago

We got to explore the boundaries of our own thinking and it made me realise what it truly means to research science.

Aaron Bertelink NanoCamp Canterbury

It was incredible to see how science is having an immense impact on the things we use and see in society.

Cecilia Kolomatangi DiscoveryCamp Massey

It opened my eyes to how I could contribute to today's society through the study of science and the development of new materials and technology that I could use to help people's lives all over the world, especially in the Pacific Islands and here in New Zealand.

Cecilia Kolomatangi DiscoveryCamp Massey