Tue, Oct 4, 2022 9:54 AM

Above and beyond in the name of science


Sara Hollyman

A rural school has been given special recognition at this year’s Cawthron Scitech Awards for going above and beyond to get their projects completed, even after they were cut off from each other.

Following severe flooding that devastated Rai Valley in August, Rai Valley Area School went above and beyond to ensure their projects were completed.

Science teacher Lisa Hooker was left stranded at her Moetapu Bay property when flooding destroyed the bay’s access road.

After touching base with the students, many of whom were helping clean-up the devastation at their own homes, she realised they all wanted to continue with their entries for the science awards.

“The simplest thing would’ve been to say no, but the students were invested in it and being in a small rural school, the value of them coming to an event like the science fair and seeing where the work they’re sits in the larger profile of students in their year group, they had set their hearts on it. It was just trickier,” she says.

Once school reopened Lisa began catching a water taxi to Havelock – a roughly 15 minute journey. From there she was picked up by the school’s principal and driven to Rai Valley. But being expensive and time consuming, it wasn’t feasible to complete every day.

She made a couple of trips a week to help the students complete their projects.

Lisa’s property was still affected by slips when the expo rolled around on September 6, but she again caught a water taxi to bring the students and their projects through to Nelson for the expo.

This year’s expo saw nearly 60 science, research, technology and art projects submitted from Year 9 – 13 students from Nayland College, Nelson College for Girls, Nelson College, Waimea College, Rai Valley Area School and Home School students.

Organisers said they were impressed by the lengths that Rai Valley Area School went to participate in the expo when they had more reason than most to withdraw from the event.

“We were blown away by the commitment that Rai Valley Area School made, submitting four entries and also having their students present to be interviewed by judges about their projects,” says coordinator Karen Goodger.

“We offered video conferencing, but their teacher was keen for her students to get the full experience of being there in person. The effort she made to do this is really quite incredible.”

One of their students, Electra Maisey, also received two awards; Highly Commended Science and the Aquaculture Award sponsored by Soroptimist International Nelson for her project, Ocean Temperature and Byssal Threads.

This year’s four Supreme Awards went to Edward Henderson from Nelson College for his science project Krazy Kōura, Brooke Robinson from Waimea College for her research project, Why Do We Dream?, Max Foy from Waimea College for his Radio Telescope technology project and Keshia Linyard for her art project, Fight or Flight.

Ministry of Inspiration, Plant and Food Research and Cawthron meet with all the entrants and discuss their vast array of projects.

All students receive written feedback from the judges and then a select group of entrants were invited to the Scitec Prizegiving at the Pūtangitangi Greenmeadows Centre in Stoke on 27 September.

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