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Science Faculty
Photo by Brendan Biggs

Science Faculty

Brendan Biggs —


The Year 12 Biology class once again made the trek up the mountain to the University Ski Club lodge at Temple Basin to study community patterns. The weather was perfect, the students worked well and managed to enjoy themselves as well. Here are the intrepid few who made it to the very top of the mountain to look down onto the Coast-to-Coast route through the Mingha/Deception pass. Not to be outdone by previous year's classes, another high altitude swim was undertaken, nobly led by Mr Ron James. They even had time after all this to complete the NCEA assessment.

A review of the Te Pūmanawa Science Programme

Prepared by Dr Maree Hemmingsen

Overview of programme

The STC programme has been a particularly enjoyable for the scientists involved in teaching the sessions. The boys were excellent ambassadors for the school and it was refreshing to see that good behaviour and manners are still encouraged. The mix of students proved to work well with the more senior students taking both a mentoring and leadership role. There were fifteen students in total who took advantage of the opportunity, with a core group of seven. It was pleasing to see how the group worked collaboratively and supported each other. Several students openly admit to being challenged by the science presented in the programme, however, it was evident that the boys were prepared to step outside their comfort-zone and take a risk. We tried at all times to encourage and support the boys when they took these risks, and were prepared to follow the tangents that occurred as discussions developed.

Science at STC is clearly well led, and the boys have benefitted from sound scientific principles being taught. They speak highly of their teachers and recognise the importance of science in the modern learning environment. The boys were able to demonstrate the relevance of science to them and their scientific literacy was tested and enhanced during their time with us. We thank the teachers for their support of the programme, recognising the extra time they committed to it in addition to their normal workload. It is refreshing to work with a school and their teachers who place students learning outcomes so highly.

The scientists who worked with the boys have been full of praise and compliments. The programme was designed to ensure that the boys were able to work within all five science curriculum areas (Nature of Science, Living World, Physical World, Material World and Planet Earth and Beyond). Each staff member was an expert in their field and all willingly contributed to the programme and would do so again. Obviously, there were times when everything did not run to plan and these sessions are acknowledged and addressed in other sections of this report.

Programme in general

The original brief for the programme was to provide an opportunity for STC students to be exposed to science, with an emphasis on showing the boys that science can be fun and is not necessarily difficult. There was an indication that students should be provided with the opportunity to engage in as many of the specialist science subject areas as possible. Similarly, this programme was to be offered to, but not limited to, Maori and Pasifika students, and/or students who would benefit from being part of an outreach programme. Clearly, these objectives were met.

This programme was based on a concept used previously for more senior students who were confident in science, to provide them with an opportunity to see what was possible at University. Unfortunately, there was little engagement with STC science teachers before the programme began. For this reason, I think that the programme, in its current format of visiting the different departments and seeing what is on offer, better suits the senior students who want to decide on their area of interest or speciality for future study at tertiary level rather than a specialist programme for students in Years 7-10. This is not to say that the programme was not enjoyable and that the boys did not benefit from being part of the programme, rather to acknowledge that upon reflection, we could do better.

The boys, who participated in the programme made the best of the opportunities they were given and worked well in every session. However, I think the time invested by teachers, students, parents and scientists could be more wisely spent in collaboratively developing a new and integrated programme that reinforces and enhances the schools current science curriculum. I would value the opportunity to discuss this further with the science faculty, particularly the science teachers who have a strong background in science, and are responsible for the curriculum development and student learning outcomes at STC.