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Big Science Adventures For New Zealand Students

31 October 2005

Big Science Adventures For New Zealand Students

The Royal Society of New Zealand, in partnership with sponsor Freemasons New Zealand, is organising another video challenge for students – BIG Science Adventures. This follows the very successful competitions for the Transit of Venus and E=mc2: The Story of the Universe (Year of Physics) which attracted 72 and 59 entries respectively.

The first stage involves producing a five-minute video on a science topic, but the rewards on offer for the winners this time are different to previous competitions, with the ultimate winner travelling to Antarctica through Antarctica New Zealand's Youth on Ice programme.

The teams producing the six best videos will be assigned to one of six BIG Science Adventures around New Zealand – all in beautiful and remote locations few people have the opportunity to visit. Their guides will be scientists who are carrying out research in these places.

The students, joined by a graduate of the University of Otago Natural History Filmmaking course, will produce a ten-minute documentary of their June 2006 expedition, focussing on the scientific investigation. The team that produces the best documentary, and also shows that they can handle the challenges of working in the field, will be selected to join the celebrations for International Polar Year in 2007 in Antarctica. This will help profile the globally important and internationally recognised research carried out there by New Zealand scientists.

The institutions hosting the six preliminary BIG Science Adventures are: University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, GNS Science (formerly Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences), and The University of Auckland. The Royal NZ Navy, which was of great assistance with the Transit of Venus programme, will help transport the scientific parties to the more remote locations.

Chief Executive of the Royal Society, Dr Steve Thompson, said "New Zealanders are very aware of the heroic exploits of past explorers and scientists in Antarctica, which has been the ultimate challenge. This competition will teach our students about the adventurous scientific investigations of our scientists today, whose work is helping us to understand planet Earth and our unique and beautiful country."

Grand Master of Freemasons New Zealand, Mr David Mace, said "We are very pleased to sponsor this new venture, having seen the motivating effects on students and the wonderful unforeseen outcomes of the previous competitions. The Freemasons will be encouraging their local schools to take part and supporting them wherever possible. Many of the students from the last two competitions have presented their work to us, which has been delightful. Their creative talents and ability to speak on their feet amaze us."

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive, Lou Sanson, said he was delighted by the partnership and the chance to combine such an interesting youth project with International Polar Year and the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Scott Base in January 2007.

"Youth on Ice is all about inspiring young New Zealanders to realise their full potential and foster a lifelong passion for Antarctica. Science is the main reason we are in Antarctica so if we can encourage future generations to pursue careers as Antarctic scientists through projects like this, then that will be a wonderful outcome," said Mr Sanson.

The competition closes on Wednesday 12 April 2006 and the six BIG Science Adventures will be assigned to the winning teams at surprise announcements in schools the first week of Term 2. Schools may submit two entries this time, and each team is to comprise three students and one teacher. The competition is open to Year 11-13 students.

A new website, "Hot Science", to be developed by e-net Ltd, an e-learning company in Auckland, will show the winning DVDs. The website will be part funded by the government's Science and Technology Promotion Fund.

BIG Science Adventures is supported by the New Zealand government through the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.


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