Taking nano and quantum science education into Rotorua schools

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Taking nano and quantum science education into Rotorua schools

24 February, 2023

Researchers from the MacDiarmid Institute and our partners at Australia’s Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET) delivered science outreach workshops to 320 Rotorua school students this month as part of the recent AMN10 conference.

Over four days, 25 volunteers from FLEET and the MacDiarmid Institute visited seven schools and presented a variety of hands-on science workshops to students ranging from primary school to early high school aged.

This was a rare opportunity for students to experiment with the properties of materials at the nanoscale and to meet and talk with real scientists about their research and science as a career. 

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Marijn Kouwenhoven from Otago Museum with students from Whangamarino School (left) and Jason Major from FLEET (Right) with students from Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu

I have heard nothing but praise for what you all did with our students. The teachers found it had great value, very engaging, and pitched at the right level for the students…I have been given very positive feedback from all involved.

Teacher Westbrook School

IMG 9329 v2Students from John Paul College met women scientists from the MacDiarmid Institute in an informal ‘People like me’ workshop, where researchers shared stories about their research and career paths and how different these could look and answered students' questions.

Meanwhile Westbrook School, Rotorua Primary School, Lake Rotoma School, Whangamarino School, Te Rangihakahaka and Te Koutu Māori Medium Schools dived into hands-on activities such as building balloon rockets, miniature catapults and graphite circuits and participated in general learning about materials science and nanotechnology.  

I probably learned as much as the students. Alongside picking up some good teaching and outreach ideas from our MacDiarmid Institute colleagues, what struck me most about the schools we visited was how strong and integrated the Māori culture and language was in the local education system and daily life. This includes the Māori-based science that helps them understand their environment.

Jason Major Outreach Coordinator FLEET

The AMN10 outreach programme was led by Marijn Kouwenhoven from Otago Museum (a MacDiarmid Institute outreach partner), and Jason Major and Errol Hunt from FLEET.

The FLEET volunteers were: Karen Bayros and Yik Lee (RMIT) and Golrokh Akhgar (Monash).

MacDiarmid Institute volunteers were: Sam Harris (University of Otago), Emily Stephens, Dr Geoffrey Weal, Dr Isabella Wagner, Associate Investigator Dr Luke Liu, Principal Investigator Associate Professor Natalie Plank and Associate Investigator Dr Nate Davis (Victoria University of Wellington), Principal Investigator Professor Aaron Marshall, Dr Azy Hashemi and Sam Edens (University of Canterbury), Principal Investigator Associate Professor Catherine Whitby, Gaby Sansom and Dr Kate Andrew (Massey University) and Dr Anaïs Chalard, Principal Investigator Professor Duncan McGillivray, Dr Ira Mautner and Associate Investigator Dr Michel Nieuwoudt (University of Auckland).