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Newsletter takes cutting-edge science to the class

Newsletter takes cutting-edge science to the classroom

25 June, 2008

AgResearch has created a Science by Email newsletter to keep secondary school science teachers informed of the cutting-edge scientific advances made at New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute.

AgResearch Education Advisor and former Secondary School Science teacher Colin Nicol says much of the newsletter’s content ties in well with the NCEA curriculum.

“Having been a teacher I am only too aware of the time pressures teachers face and wanted to provide something teachers could use in the classroom. I also wanted to provide useful links to other sites to reduce the time the classroom teacher would have to spend researching examples.”

In addition to a selection of topical articles, the quarterly newsletter will feature quiz questions and notices of upcoming courses, debates and symposia of interest to teachers.

The newsletter supports the AgResearch education programme which has seen Colin Nicol visit more than 80 schools since the beginning of 2007 and teach more than 2000 secondary students.

“I take in things like electrophoresis gels that the students then get to use — teaching them the technique for checking if an animal or plant has a particular gene. Most schools can’t afford the equipment, so the students would never otherwise get the opportunity to use them.”

Colin says that while most people are aware that agriculture is the foundation of New Zealand’s economic well-being, many do not realise that agricultural science has had a significant part to play in its success.


“It is important that we inform school students of the value that science has and will continue to deliver to the New Zealand economy.”

AgResearch recently extended its education programme through the establishment of a partnership with Auckland University’s Liggins Institute. Through its LENS programme, it provides opportunities for school students and teachers to learn about the latest advances in the life sciences within the context of current, applied biomedical research and links directly to the secondary science curriculum.

Colin Nicol says that by joining forces with the Liggins institute, he is able to reach more school students.

“There are many commonalities in animal research we focus on at AgResearch and the largely human health focus of the Liggins Institute.”

View the Science by Email newsletter on-line by clicking on the link:   To subscribe, email


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