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Science Talk Wins Award

8 November 2005

Science Talk Wins Award

Dr Alison Campbell and Dr Penelope Cooke love to talk science. The University of Waikato biological sciences lecturer and earth sciences post-doctoral fellow have just been awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists' (NZAS) Science Communicator Award for 2005.

The Science Communicator Award is presented to practising scientists for excellence in communicating to the general public in any area of science or technology.

With a mutual passion for science education and a reputation for 'just getting on with it', Dr Campbell and Dr Cooke have dedicated themselves to making science accessible to the public.

They are the driving force behind the renowned Evolution for Teaching website, launched in March 2004 to provide expert support and quality material for New Zealand's science teachers. The site specifically focuses on evolution and related geological concepts from a New Zealand perspective, with New Zealand examples and links to the New Zealand senior school curriculum.

They are also the founders of the Hamilton branch of the hugely popular Café Scientifique, a science forum held in a local cafe where people are able to ask questions and debate issues over a coffee or cold beer. The concept has spread locally and there are now meetings in Tauranga and Auckland. The Hamilton Café Scientifique recently held a party to celebrate the Earth's birthday, complete with dinosaur cake.

"Many people have a poor understanding of the nature of science, yet must live in a world where science and technology are increasingly important in their everyday life," says Dr Campbell. "With Café Scientifique we aim to provide people with an informative and entertaining evening of science, in a relaxing setting."

When she's not teaching, researching, maintaining the evolution website, or co-ordinating café meetings, Dr Campbell can regularly be found giving science talks in high schools round the upper North Island.

Dr Cooke says that understanding science needs to be a life-long activity. "Many topics in science are recent developments that will not necessarily have been covered in school science in the past."

Dr Campbell and Dr Cooke will be presented with the Science Communicator Award at a ceremony on Wednesday 23 November. The Evolution for Teaching website can be found at:


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