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Photo by Rebecca O'Loughlin

Student activities and successes in the Science Faculty for 2022

Rebecca O'Loughlin —

There have been lots of great things happening across the Science Faculty this year, with students succeeding well, both in school and out of school. Some highlights are:

In Term 3 we had six teams (3 senior and 3 junior) of four students compete in the Epro8 challenge heats at Shirley Boy’s High School, using various equipment to design and build a machine which fulfilled the requirements of the selected challenges. Using their knowledge of Science, Mathematics, Electronics and problem solving skills, they tackled the challenges with valour and wit. The students involved were: Aarya Advilkar, Leilani Amataiti, Christian Birch, Taylor Blackbourn, Anna Christensen, Mack Dalzell, Alex Gibson, Angus Hay, Charlie Helmore, Sophie Jefferies, Isolde Johnson, Isaac Latimer, Daniel Lough, Charvi Malik, Elise Newman, Ameya Raut, Robert Rider, Riley Scott, Ritvik Sharma, William Terry, Charlie Wichman, George Wilkins, Erin Yamada and Ryan Zhang. A special congratulations goes to Short Circuit (Riley, Christian, Ryan and Alex) and Doonie Boon Babes (Isolde, Anna, Mack and Leilani) teams who made it to the junior and senior grand finals at Holmes Solutions respectively. Short Circuit performed amazingly on the day and took out the Junior Grand Final EPro8 title!

We had sixteen Year 9 to 13 students participate in the International Competitions and Assessments for schools (ICAS) Science competition in 2022. This consisted of a multi-choice online test done over a 60 minute period. Congratulations goes to Alex Gibson (9WPEC), Rachel McGowan (9SGCT), Riki Smillie (9WWTA), Andrew Wu (9WPEC), Ysabella Ho (11SESM), James Wang (13SRT) for gaining Distinction awards and Soomin Song (9WWTA) for gaining a High Distinction award. High Distinction places them in the top 1% for NZ entries.

Five Year 10 students, Jolie Higgs, Maika Inns, Aaliyah Mitchell, William Terry and Rylan Underwood were selected to participate in the project, He Puna Pūtaiao in Term Four of 2022. This project is in collaboration with the University of Canterbury (UC) and involves the students spending six days at UC carrying out an investigation into the water quality of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere). The students did background research before going to Te Waihora to collect samples to analyse back at UC. They have completed the sessions at UC and summarised their findings in a University level poster display, well done!

Our Year 11 Extension Science and Year 12 General Science students went to the University of Canterbury as part of their study of Radioactivity and Models of the atom. There they conducted experiments looking at the activity of different Radioactive sources and half-life. The other part of the day was spent interacting with resources from Rutherford’s Den around the history of the atom before getting a tour of the Physical and Chemical Sciences building to look at applications of Physics.

Congratulations goes to Carol Khor who received a place on Nanocamp, organised by the MacDiarmid Institute. This is a highly contested Science camp as they only take 20 students from across New Zealand. She also was awarded the 2021 Te Puiaki Kaipūtaiao Ānamata Future Scientist Prize for her research work she has been doing outside of school. Read all about her work here.

Ameya Raut and Jiayi Zheng received Bishopdale-Burnside Rotary scholarships to attend The Rotary National Science and Technology Forum in January of 2023. A fantastic opportunity to explore and experience all the different areas of science.


Year 13 Biology students began 2022 by developing an investigation into the effect that different levels of activity have on human blood pressure. This was generously supported by Dr Peter Olsen and his team from Ara Institute of Canterbury. Students made the most of Dr Olsen’s guidance and made good use of the equipment Ara provided to allow them to gather data for their experiments.

During Term two Year 13 Biology students visited Orana Park as part of the Human Evolution topic. Biology staff and students find this a very worthwhile experience as we get to observe primate species up close as well as hear the latest developments in the story of human evolution from the knowledgeable zoo staff. The extensive skull collection in the zoo school also allows students to interact with the skulls of the ancestors we have been discussing in classes.

Year 12 Biology began the year learning about different adaptations animals have to carrying out the life process of gas exchange. This involved dissecting and doing biological drawings of insect tracheal systems, fish gills and sheep lungs to allow them to investigate gas exchange in these animal groups. This information became part of their report that was the assessment for this topic.

Following this the Year 12 Biology students investigated the goal of Aotearoa becoming predator free by 2050. A field trip to Zero Invasive Pests and Lincoln University allowed students to hear from experts who are developing the tools and carrying out the research required to reach this goal. Tom Agnew, the predator behaviour team leader from ZIP, introduced students to traps that are currently used to control pests like stoats, as well as allowing students to see some of the innovative trapping techniques that are being developed. He also spoke about his thoughts on the future of trapping pests in New Zealand. Students also heard from Dr James Ross, an Associate Professor in the Department of Pest Management and Conservation at Lincoln University. Dr Ross spoke about the situation of managing rats in New Zealand, the issues they are causing and whether we can completely eliminate these pests. This information from ZIP and Lincoln University was directly applicable to the students' assessment of this topic.

A number of Biology students sat the New Zealand International Biology Olympiad Entrance Exam in August. Grady Kenix, Zoey Kenix, Thea-Rose Willcocks, Jiayi Zheng and Ameya Raut were selected to move onto the next stage in this program. These students are part of the top 224 Biology students across New Zealand taking part. The next step involves an intensive course of Biology training tutorials, which will continue into 2023. This will lead onto the NZIBO camp selection in 2023 where the top 20-25 of these students will take part in a residential practical training camp based in Otago.


When the results for the 2021 examinations came out there was one particularly stand-out achievement amongst them. James Wang sat the Level 3 Scholarship Chemistry exam as a Year 12 student and was awarded a scholarship, placing him amongst the top High School Chemistry students in the country.
James was also involved in the selection process for the International Chemistry Olympiad team alongside fellow students Ritvik Sharma and Oscar Chin. These 3 students had a program of study they completed during Term 1 outside of class. After the final examination in the process James was selected to take part in the Easter training camp. Although he did not make the final team we are really proud of his achievements and the effort he put into furthering his understanding in Chemistry.

The selection process for the 2023 Olympiad team started in October. From the initial test we have two students selected to enter the initial training squad. They are Johnny Lawrey and Ameya Raut. They now have the training material to continue on with this endeavour in 2023.

In Term 2 we had some of our Level 3 Chemistry students carry out extended investigations into the changes in the concentration of certain species. These investigations were completed with the help of the University of Canterbury who allowed us to use their laboratory for a day to get experimental results. Some of the investigations carried out looked into changes in the salinity of aquatic environments, factors that impact on the vitamin C concentration of foods, or how the chlorine containing compounds used in pools degrade over time.


Many of our students at all year levels entered the NZPMC (New Zealand Physics and Mathematics Competition). This year the competition was run in two rounds, the first being an online national round, with the second round being held in regions on university campuses. Highlights from the first round included James Wang earning first place in the senior division, with Grady Kenix and Carol Khor both making the top ten. In the junior division, Erin Yamada and Daniel Lough both placed in the top 30 nationwide. The top 30 South Island students in each division were invited to the South Island Final held at the University of Canterbury, and impressively all 23 entries from Burnside made it through to the Final. The Final included some extra activities - the junior students participated in a Maths Craft session, while the seniors chose from workshops organised by the Physics and Engineering Departments. Burnside came away with some impressive results:

Senior Division - 1st James Wang, 4th Carol Khor, 10th Max Wallace

Junior Division - 2nd Erin Yamada, 4th Sarah McGowan, 7th Ysabella Ho, 9th Daniel Lough

Eight of our aspiring engineers entered the Engineering Science Competition run by the University of Auckland. The competition ran one Saturday in August over nine hours, with the challenge being to answer this question posed in the morning:“What’s the largest payload that could be launched into orbit by slingshot?”

We hosted the Women in Engineering group from the University of Auckland, who ran a thoroughly enjoyable hands-on session for some of our female Physics students.

Unfortunately we were unable to take the Level 2 Physics students on our usual visit to the Electrical Engineering and Physics Departments at UC this year, but are booked in and looking forward to going in 2023!