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House of Science launched in Tauranga

House of Science launched in Tauranga

Anna Meikle and Celise Woodcock

Inspiring young people about the exciting world of science is the focus of a new science resource facility launched in Tauranga last night.

The House of Science was established three months ago by former secondary school science teacher Chris Duggan to enrich science education across the community. Her aim is to get more students excited by science in the early years so they will be inspired to carry on with their studies through
secondary and into tertiary education.

Connecting and resourcing the local science community is where it all begins, and from next year Chris will begin offering professional development in science for primary and secondary teachers as well as science-based after school and holiday programmes for primary and secondary students.

“Science is an incredibly exciting and important subject and it’s alarming to see so many students lose interest in it at such a young age. I want to help connect schools, tertiary institutions and industry so we can all make science more accessible, fun and engaging for kids.”

Chris said a random survey she conducted of 100 students who attended the Tauranga Careers Expo in August found that many had become disengaged with science before they even entered

secondary school. “New Zealand needs more scientists and people working in science-related fields, so it is imperative we find ways to improve this situation,” she said.

Tauranga Girls’ College Principal and Chair of the House of Science Board Pauline Cowens applauded Chris’ move to build a depth of science knowledge and science engagement in the community, and said that in five to ten years we would see many more young people moving into tertiary science education and industry.

One of Chris’ tasks this term has been seeking funding to put together science resource kits for schools to borrow for their class lessons. She says suitable, durable resources can be expensive and many schools struggle to fund their own.

A range of different kits will cover themes in biology, chemistry, physics and food science, including a full-sized human skeleton, animal skeletons and human X-Rays; equipment to construct solar and wind-powered energy generators and dynamos; a class set of digital USB microscopes; and pulleys, ramps, force meters and scales for construction themes.

The House of Science is based at the University of Waikato’s Coastal Marine Field Station at SulphurPoint, where Chris will run the student-based programmes starting next February. For member schools she will also provide eight professional development sessions for teachers every term, and provide a vital link to local industry to help teachers enrich the curriculum with targeted field trips.

Chris hopes to make access to science information as easy as possible for families, and will offer advice on a range of science subjects including science fair ideas, the young innovator programme as well as providing a community resource centre for home-schooled students.


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