Science Department Report

By Yvonne Caulfield and various contributors | Posted: Wednesday January 1, 2014

A productive year: 2014 has once again been busy and productive for the LPHS Science Department.

We have continued to develop and explore links with the community with LPHS greatly appreciating links with Otago University to bring educational and interesting experiences to our senior students. 

We again visited Portobello Marine Aquarium and both the Chemistry and Microbiology Departments. Dunedin was host to the 2014 Scicon (Science Educators) Conference, and Dr Murray Thompson's work on the organising committee was much appreciated. Dr Thompson was again quiz master for the Dunedin Area Year 10 Science Quiz, and LPHS came second in this long running event. 

Mr Biggin was away for terms two and three this year, exploring,  rock climbing and working with his family in France. In his absence, his classes were taken by Sandra Deans and Natalie Chalmers, and their valuable contribution over this time was highly appreciated. 

Mr Pirie was one of three secondary school teachers in New Zealand invited to the Microbiologists' Conference in Queenstown in August; he met academics and scientists involved in cutting edge research. 

Ms Karen Daly our valued Science technician has shown her exceptionally diverse skills this year. She had the opportunity to attend Spirit of New Zealand with students, take groups of LPHS students skiing and snowboarding, visiting Mt Cook with Enviro-studies and of course developing her skills as a technician, by attending the Science Technicians Conference in Sydney.

A few words from our students and staff

A good year for science

This year has seen a strong presence from Logan Park students at science events and competitions, both in Dunedin and further afield. Our team in the Year 12 Chemistry Quiz notably won the Haiku section of the contest, and a number of students were invited to the Women in Science breakfast. I would have attended myself, but was in Australia for the 2014 Youth ANZAAS Science Conference at the time along with eight other NZ students. The focus of the conference was establishing a connection with Melbourne Universities and institutions. As usual, the Otago Science Fair went very well; I won “Best in Fair” and Grant McNaughton won two premier awards. Between us more than 1/4 of the competition’s top prizes went to LPHS. Lastly, I and three other Logan Park students attended Hands-On Science in January this year, which was a great opportunity to explore new areas of science (I learned more about how the DCC filter river water into tap water than I ever wanted to know). There will have been other events, of course, but one person can’t do everything. It’s been a good year for science, and I’m sure 2015 will be even better.
— Meran Campbell-Hood

I intend to return next year

During 2014 I have done a lot in the field of science. The events I have been involved in have been amazing experiences that have expanded my scientific knowledge.

The first event I was involved in was the Otago Regional Science and Technology Fair. I did a project on the oceanographical composition of the Otago harbour. For my project I won two premier awards, which have taken me further in the field of science. Meran Campbell Hood won overall,with a project she has been working on for several years.

The second event I was involved in was the National Bio Olympiad programme. This is a programme designed to train a team of biologists for the international competition next year in Denmark. This involves learning a lot of university level biology, which is difficult but very rewarding.

The final project I was involved in was the Sir Paul Callaghan Nation Eureka science symposium in Wellington. This involved six high school students, and six university students, speaking about a particular field of science. I talked about the importance of scientific literacy. I won a gold scholarship from The New Zealand Treasury  for a speech that showed the most potential to improve the literacy standards of the most New Zealanders. I also won a bronze award. The whole experience was incredible, and involved a visit to government house, and a meeting with the Governor General. I intend to return next year.
— Grant McNaughton

It was a great experience

In Term Two I was lucky enough to be accepted in to the Te Ruawa o te pahi programme. Around 20 students and I got the opportunity to stay on Quarantine Island for two nights and then a night at the Otakou Marae. During the day we were on the Polaris which is the research vessel for the Otago University Marine Studies. The weather was quite rough the first day and lots of people felt seasick. The following days were much better as we found our sea legs. We collected samples from both inside and outside the harbour, then counted the organisms we found. Some of the organisms we found were crabs, worms, seastars and loads of plankton. We then presented the data to each other in PowerPoints. It was a great experience and although I was a little unsure at first, I am really glad I went.
— Tahlia Hapuku

"I got crabs."

Not what you want to hear, unless you are a Level Three Biology student of course.

Catching these crunchy crustaceans was a challenge, but well worth the effort. Once you had your bucket of crabs you could begin testing. The NZ half crab has been well documented this year, with experiments being performed on almost every aspect of their physiology. In addition to designing experiments, students also learnt about how to conduct ethical experiments. Practical lessons were also taught, such as “Don’t accidentally poison your crabs”, (rather obvious in hindsight).

The NZ Half Crab has a new found place in my heart. Despite attempts to avoid anthropomorphism, I found myself growing attached to my test subjects (except Number 5, he was too crabby). At the end of the trip I was sad to see my crabs go. However after three days together, I had no qualms about leaving my classmates.
— Alexander Woolrych

Every superhero gets a sequel

Earlier this year I applied for a Youth Science Forum in London. I was slightly disappointed but not altogether surprised a few weeks later when I received an email informing me that I hadn’t been chosen to attend. However, this was completely changed a month later when I received a phone call asking if I was interested in attending the World Science Conference in Israel instead. The event was going to be attended by Nobel Laureates, so of course I said "yes".

In the following weeks I rose to fame. I had photo shoots, interviews for newspaper and TV, and even memes published on a Logan Park memes page. I truly was a hero. However, I was to meet my kryptonite: as the trip came closer and closer the political situation in Israel deteriorated, as anyone who has any connection to the outside world will know. Eventually, just a month out from the conference it was cancelled. This was disappointing, but every superhero gets a sequel, so watch out for ‘Mathew Denys and the potentially rescheduled 2015 World Science Conference’.
— Mathew Denys

Technician's notes

I've had a great year at LPHS, along with many great trips like skiing and Environment Camp I've had two great ones worth a mention: In May I was lucky to take 10 wonderful Year Ten students for a sail around the Hauraki gulf on the Spirit of New Zealand. It was a trip of a lifetime, as I had aspired to sail when I was in high school and wasn't sucessful! The students and I had a wonderful adventure and coming back to real life was hard. Then in September I travelled to Sydney to attend a Science Education conference, where I learnt cool things like setting up a CSI crime scene for teaching science skills. It was based at Sydney Grammar, a very posh school indeed!
— Karen Daly

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