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The First BIG Science Adventures Winners

Announcement by the Royal Society of New Zealand

The First BIG Science Adventures Winners

Eighteen high-school students from around New Zealand will be departing on BIG Science Adventures next month, courtesy of the Freemasons. The six winning teams will make films about the science on their trips – from volcanoes to island geology to dolphins – and the best of these will win the team a trip to Antarctica.

The first two winning teams were told in surprise announcements school assemblies today. The other four winning teams will be announced in schools around the country over the next week.

The first announcement was made this morning at Wellington High, with Royal Society of New Zealand CEO Dr Steve Thompson telling the students of their win. The three Wellington students made an excellent documentary about teenage sleep patterns, and will now – fittingly – keep astronomers company on a lonely planet-hunting vigil at Mt John Observatory, exquisitely sited at the heel of the beautiful Lake Tekapo. The team will also fly past Aoraki/Mt Cook and visit nearby glaciers.

Margaret Austin, a former Minister of Science and companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand, informed the three young men from Timaru Boys High School of their success this afternoon. The Timaru students made a valiant effort in last year's E=mc2 video competition, but missed out. This year their documentary on climate change and our electricity supply impressed the judges with the boys' acting technique and dedication. They have won the most remote adventure – travelling to the Chatham Islands on the Royal NZ Navy ship Resolution. There, they'll learn to interpret the island's story from the rocks, flora and fauna.

A dedicated website is being launched today, Hot Science "Your On-line Science Channel" (, so that all six winning videos can be watched on the day they are announced, with the six Highly Commended and eight Commended entrants' videos being released on-line in following weeks. In addition to information about the adventures, the site will have a special message to participants from the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Steve Maharey, and offer videos featuring the exciting work of New Zealand scientists and researchers.

The Grand Master of the Freemasons, said: "Again, we are gratified that the students have had so much fun, and so much real learning, in making these videos. What a delight to get outside with your friends, and work on something creative, together. For all that, there were clearly hours and hours of hard grind - early mornings, late nights and weekends - doing the editing, and struggling with unfamiliar software. Their ability to stick at it, and complete the job, says a lot for these young people. We really respect the thousands of hours that went into these videos by judging them with great care and consideration. The winning teams have truly earned their places on the six BIG Science Adventures, and I thank all the teams who took part. We hope that participation was its own reward."

The Royal Society of New Zealand, with sponsorship from the Freemasons, has now organised three school video science competitions since 2004, which have seen more then 500 students take up the challenge of communicating science on the big screen, with exceptional and entertaining results.



Timaru Boys High School
In the Footsteps of Dieffenbach : Chatham Islands

These boys have shown 100% determination to get their story and make it into the finals. Their video on climate change and hydro electricity is exciting and powerful; they chose very topical subjects and made the most of the fabulous mountain scenery near Timaru. They have been assigned to the most remote location - the Chatham Islands - where they will learn to interpret the island's story from the rocks, flora and fauna. Their expedition party will travel there from Gisborne on the Royal NZ Navy ship Resolution, which has been deployed on special orders from Admiral Ledson. They return to Devonport, Auckland, on the Resolution, a chance for some rest and relaxation in the big smoke before flying home to Timaru.

Dates: Monday 12 June – Friday 23 June
Science: Study of Geology/Flora-Fauna
Students: Thomas Westaway, Michael Price, Omeed Howey
Teacher: Mr Tony Bunting
Principal Scientist: Dr Hamish Campbell, GNS Science

Wellington High School
The Search for Distant Planets : Lake Tekapo

These Wellington student's video on teenage sleep patterns is extremely professional, and the information is very clearly presented through some excellent interviews. This highly creative team now have the challenge of presenting the work of the planet hunters. Their nocturnal habits will be perfectly suited to keeping the astronomers company on their lonely vigils at Mt John Observatory, exquisitely sited at the heel of the beautiful Lake Tekapo. Weather permitting, they will glide over the Southern Alps, which encircle Mt John, and travel to the nearby glaciers.

Dates: Friday 16 June – Saturday 24 June
Science: Astronomy
Students: Hannah Newport, Josh Barnes, Joe Russell
Teacher: Mr Mark Sweeney
Principal Scientist: Dr John Hearnshaw, University of Canterbury


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