Hero photograph
Penguin nasal mite class
Photo by Merv Ellis

Science Department Report

Dan Steggles —

West Coast Penguin Trust and JPII Science Department initiative.

Term 3 – Science Department

Yet another really busy term in Science!

Starting with Science fair, it was great to see so many entries this year and a great attendance for the evening to support the students. Thanks to Harcourts generous donation towards our prize pot, competition this year for the top spots was high and the standard of entries, especially with the Juniors was exceptional. I look forward to seeing some more entries from the senior students next year, the cash prizes may help motivate them!

Senior students, along with Miss Lindsay, finally went along to the University of Canterbury to help them prepare for their nuclear physics internal and show off their ice skating and go karting skills, all in the name of Physics!

Y13 Biologists had an opportunity to head over to Orana Park for the day to view their collection of skulls, comparing those of primates with humans and early human like species. With their vast collection and expertise, the students engaged in several activities designed to support them with the external examination they will sit in November.

We also recently held the first of what we hope will be many Science themed days, with the intention of bursting covid’s bubble the students enjoyed an afternoon in the sun playing with various ways of creating bubbles. Links to bubbles were also made in our lessons throughout the day. An enjoyable half an hour was had by all!

This term also had Science host two very unique events in studying the local little blue penguins. Sadly, over the past few years a number of them have been found deceased along the coast and Senior Biology students at JPII were offered the chance to carry out dissections to help understand their cause of death. This vital research completed under the guidance of Lucy Waller from the Blue Penguin Trust and Marjon Sprock parent and local vet, will help support their protection in the future.

In addition to the autopsy Lucy and Marjon returned this week to follow up their work with a dissection of the nasal cavities. In a first study of its kind for New Zealand, senior students again were offered a chance to take part in a research study being carried out by Ralph Vanstreels, from the Institute of Research and Rehabilitation of Marine Animals in South America. He has examined penguins largely in South America and South Africa and now thanks to JPII, New Zealand! Our Nasal mite samples will now be verified by Otago and will be included in his research paper.

Under Covid, Level 2 restrictions the West Coast Science Fair this year was held behind closed doors up at Buller High school, with the ceremony being broadcast over Zoom. Our students were very pleased to learn that they had secured 1st, 2nd and 3rd place with our first place Y9 entry from Zak Kelmpel achieving 1st place overall and a $400 cash prize! Well done to all students that entered and good luck in your preparations next year!

With the Exams fast approaching, I would like to encourage the senior students to spend a bit of time over the holiday tackling those areas they found challenging on their derived grade exams, although it is also important for them to have a well earned rest, so they return refreshed and ready to go!


We must also say goodbye to Liana Climo our Science trainee teacher who has been a very welcome, albeit temporary addition to the Science team. I know she will be missed by the students whom she has taught and the staff!

Mr Steggles