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Six Big Science Adventures Assigned To New Zealand

Thursday 4 May 2006

Announcement from the Royal Society of New Zealand

Six Big Science Adventures Assigned To New Zealand Students

All six winning teams now know of their success in the BIG Science Adventures video competition for Year 11-13 students, sponsored by Freemasons New Zealand.

The teams are from: Burnside High School, Nelson College, Pakuranga College, Pukekohe High School, Timaru Boys' High School, and Wellington High School.

They have all been assigned trips to some very remote and special locations the coastal haunts of whales and dolphins in the Bay of Islands, White Island and the central plateau, Stephen's Island, Mt John Observatory at Lake Tekapo, Fiordland, and the Chatham Islands. Some of the students are already in training to prepare for the physical demands of their field trip in June.

The challenge now before them is to make a 10 minute documentary of their host scientist's work in those locations. The best video will win the team a place on the ultimate science adventure, a trip to the Antarctic in January 2007. This has been organised through Antarctica New Zealand's Youth on Ice programme. The winner will be announced by Sir Edmund Hillary at a special event in Wellington on 4 August, for which all the teams will come together to present their documentaries and share their experiences.

Each team has been appointed a film mentor a new graduate of the University of Otago Natural History Film-making Course who will give the students planning and technical assistance.

The standard of entries in these video competitions is now very high this is the third organised by the Royal Society and sponsored by Freemasons New Zealand. The judges wanted to acknowledge several videos beyond the winning six, and to see these go up on the new website www.hotscience.co.nz A list of those Highly Commended and Commended is at the end of the release, as well as full details of all six winners.

The Royal Society of New Zealand is very grateful to Freemasons New Zealand, Antarctica New Zealand, and the Royal NZ Navy for their wonderful financial and in-kind support for the competition, which is life-changing for many students. Thanks also to the judges for their marathon video watching efforts, and the very careful consideration they gave all the students' work.

For more information, contact Glenda Lewis, Royal Society of New Zealand, Glenda.lewis@rsnz.org tel. 04 470 5758 or 027 210 0997

Burnside High School: Dolomedes Aquaticus and the work of Michelle Greenwood
Assigned BIG Science Adventure: Molten Matters, Bay of Plenty/Taupo area

The energetic and intelligent "two-legged freaks" from Burnside will turn their attention from the habits of Dolomedes Aquaticus, more commonly known as the New Zealand fishing spider, to the unpredictable and truly scary habits of volcanoes, starting with White Island. Their intrepid hosts led by GNS Science's Dr Brent Alloway are used to staring into the mouths of these untamed monsters that will one day show their awesome powers again. He'll show them around the Taupo Volcanic Zone, where most of New Zealand's deadly volcanic activity has occurred. The team had better be fit - they'll be going right to the top of Ruapehu to see the breathtaking Crater Lake and across part of the Tongariro Crossing to see the Red Crater.

Dates: Sunday 25 June Sunday 2 July
Science: Study of Volcanoes/Geothermal areas
Students: Reuben Todd, Melissa Hay, Allen Carbon
Teacher: Ms Claire Wichman
Principal Scientist: Dr Brent Alloway, GNS Science

Nelson College: Cawthron, Creating an NZ Icon
Assigned BIG Science Adventure: Whales and Dolphins, Northland

The cultivation of paua at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson is a story of hope for yet another endangered marine species. Two of the boys - Michael Potton and Michael Holmes - demonstrated their talents at video making in the Transit of Venus video competition two years ago. They won a place on the expedition to the UK to observe the 2004 Transit. This time, they have earned a place on the expedition to the Bay of Islands where marine biologists are studying whale and dolphin populations. They will spend much of their time on the water, and will have the opportunity to visit Great Barrier Island, which is not far from the marine laboratory at Leigh, 1.5 hours north of Auckland.

Date: Saturday 17 June Sunday 25 June
Science: Study of whales and dolphin populations
Students: Michael Holmes, Michael Potton, Robert Whittaker
Teacher: Mrs Leigh Riley
Principal Scientist: Dr Scott Baker, University of Auckland


Pakuranga College: My Neighbour's Planet
Assigned BIG Science Adventure: Stephens Island (Tuatara)

These girls found a superb talent in Jennie McCormick, their now famous neighbour. Jennie is an amateur astronomer who, from the comfort of her home in Pakuranga, found a planet by observing the changing light from a star on her computer. Using her kitchen bench, two apples and a tomato, she explains Einstein's simple but powerful technique of microlensing, which enables astronomers to detect the presence of planets. Having conquered this topic, the girls will now investigate the habitat of our oldest residents - the tuatara - which lived on our land for millions of years alongside the dinosaurs. Somehow, they survived the mass extinction of life c65million years ago, only to be driven from the mainland by the pressures of human habitation, and the predators that came with them. The team will be flown by helicopter to their last outpost - rugged Stephens Island - off the north of the South Island. The Navy boat will uplift the party, requiring some skill given the very
rough waters, and all but inaccessible coastline.

Dates: Sunday 11 June Sunday 18 June
Science: Study of Tuatara habitat
Students: Monique Higgins, Eileen Gallagher, Jenny Suo
Teacher: Mr Gordon Lawrence
Principal Scientist: Sue Keall/Dr Nicola Nelson


Pukekohe High School: The Iron Production Process
Assigned BIG Science Adventure: From the Mountains to the Sea, Fiordland

This team produced a very competent programme on the steel making process, gaining access to NZ Steel's plant in Glenbrook and some superb shots of the furnaces and molten metal. The boys will travel to far southern latitudes to join scientists in Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, where they will have quite a different topic to elucidate - the study of the food chain. Captain Cook was the first European scientist to make measurements in Fiordland - he tested a prototype of John Harrison's new clock, which finally enabled sailors to estimate longitude with reliable accuracy.

Date: Sunday 18 June Sunday 25 June
Science: Food Webs
Students: Tim Clauson, Allen Crimmins, Alec Wild
Teacher: Ms Lisa Ooi
Principal Scientist: Dr Stephen Wing, University of Otago

Timaru Boys High School: S'no Problem
Assigned BIG Science Adventure: 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

This video on teenage sleep patterns is extremely professional, and the information is very clearly presented through some excellent interviews. These highly creative young people 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 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


Highly Commended
Karamu High School: Powering the Bay
Mt.Aspiring College, Rabbit CaliciVirus Disease
Orewa College, Bridging the Gap
Orewa College, Waste
St Mary's College, The Tuatara: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
Tauranga Girls' College, Are We Safe?: A Closer Look at the Tarawera Eruption

Commended
Aurora College, Set in Stone, Curio Bay's Link to the Past
Columba College, The Story of Floating Sand
Katikati College, To Wetland or Not
Matamata College, The Pest-Proof Fence
Opotiki College, A note on the Whio
Wellington Girls' College, The Pencarrow Lakes: Wellington's Best-Kept Secret
Western Heights' High School, Springtime Investigation: Nitrates in Rotorua Lakes
Whangarei Girls' High School, A Stake in Our Future

Ends


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