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Students Sacrifice Summer Sun for Science Forum

Students Sacrifice Summer Sun for Science Forum - Record numbers attend 2004 Forum

A record 144 of New Zealand’s sharpest young scientific minds are gathering in Auckland this weekend for the fifteenth annual Genesis Research and Development Science and Technology Forum.

The annual Forum is sponsored by biotechnology company Genesis Research and Development Corporation and is organised by Rotary.

Year 12 students from around the country are giving up two weeks of their summer holiday to participate in intensive teaching programmes combined with field trips and visits to research organisations where they will get first hand experience of the challenges and rewards offered by a science career and exposure to state of the art technology.

This year’s keynote address is by world-renowned squid expert Dr. Steve O’Shea. Dr. O’Shea, a senior research fellow at Auckland University of Technology, is an authority on Cephalopoda, the highest class of mollusc which includes octopus and squid. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in zoology from the University of Auckland.

O’Shea says that these young students are in the perfect position to contribute to the growing amount of scientific research being undertaken in New Zealand.

“I can testify that studying science in New Zealand can lead to an internationally respected career at the forefront of scientific research.

“A career in science is not only stimulating and rewarding, it is a whole lot of fun as well. Spending my days wallowing around in decaying colossal squid is a great way to earn a living and contribute to our knowledge of the world around us.”

Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson says the Forum is an excellent means to encourage students towards careers in science and technology. “As we advance in the twenty-first century scientists, innovators and researchers are making significant contributions to New Zealand’s society and economy. The Forum helps communicate the excitement, reward and value of a scientific career. I congratulate both the sponsors and the students involved.”

Genesis Research Chief Executive Dr. Jim Watson says the Forum aims to capture the students’ enthusiasm and passion for science and technology and to show them the opportunities to participate in ground-breaking research and development here in New Zealand.

“It is important to invest in these young students who will be the future leaders of science and technology in New Zealand. Through them we can build a science culture and they can further their scientific careers here in New Zealand.”

The students arrive in Auckland on Saturday 10 January and the Forum opens with the keynote address on Monday morning.

The rest of the fortnight is spent in sessions at the Universities of Auckland and Waikato, Massey University, Auckland University of Technology, UNITEC and Manukau Institute of Technology, as well as field trips and visits to research facilities.

Dr. Watson says that not only do the students learn about science at the Forum but they also forge enduring friendships.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for them to practise leadership and communication skills and spend time with peers who share similar interests.”

The students are selected from throughout New Zealand, with six students coming from Australia to attend the Forum.

In association with the British Council, two students will be nominated to attend the International Youth Science Forum held in London in August.

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