Tag Archives: technology

UC scientists mix technology, art and roleplay to show teens the earth’s power

UC geologist scientists have developed an exciting hi-tech game to help high school students understand the power of the earth.

The game, called ‘Magma Drillers Save Plant Earth’ was developed by UC Volcanologist Associate Professor Ben Kennedy and geological 3D visualisation expert Dr Jonathan Davidson with help from artists, digital experts and educators.

Ben Kennedy creating magma in their lab

The game integrates storytelling, 3D software, video technology, holograms, comic art and geology to teach secondary school students about the inner workings of volcanoes and the role of geologists and engineers.

Dr Kennedy, who last year won

a New Zealand Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for his inspiring and engaging teaching, says he is always looking for ways to make learning fun and more engaging for students.

“We can’t keep teaching the way we’ve always taught and expect our students to stay engaged – not when we’re competing with gaming technology and Hollywood special effects. As teachers we need to keep up and stay relevant – this game is just one of the ways we’re doing that.”

The project received $30,000 in funding from the Unlocking Curious Minds 2017 funding round, administered by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. UC provided in-kind support through staff time, use of equipment and facilities.

The UC scientists hope to share the game with other schools, museums and educational centres around New Zealand.


Law without Lawyers: does legal education have a future?

In his recent UC Connect public lecture, Professor John Hopkinsexplained how the changing nature of law, the increasing cost of legal advice and the excessive formality of the legal system had left the way open for alternative ways to undertake ‘law jobs’, without the need of lawyers.

“From Blockchain to ‘Alternative’ Dispute Resolution, the way appears open for a legal system without the need for high priests of the legal profession to navigate it,” Professor Hopkins says.

“If current trends continue, the much maligned profession may die out, all on its own.”

Missed this session? Watch the video here:

Engineering innovation improves students’ skills

Congratulations to Associate Professor Tom Cochrane who received the College of Engineering Teaching Innovation Prize recently.

Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award
Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award

The prize was for his ‘Preparing engineers for digital video communication’ framework, which enables students (and academics) to use video technology to communicate engineering results effectively.

Associate Professor Cochrane says communication skills are an integral part of an engineer’s formal education, but practice is needed to improve presentations.

PVC Engineering Jan Evans-Freeman presenting Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award.
PVC Engineering Jan Evans-Freeman presenting Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award.

“The ability to communicate effectively is a professional skill that all engineers should possess, but class sizes can limit students’ opportunities to do oral presentations and receive feedback on their skills.”

In response, Associate Professor Cochrane flipped the class room experience on its head by having students create video presentations to teach each other about different topics. Fellow classmates could then evaluate others’ skills, thereby learning skills for themselves in the process.

170725 Virtual Pres Tom CochraneThe technology is easy to use and allows for various learning and assessment opportunities.

“Self-awareness and practice are key elements for preparing engineers for digital video communication.

“Viewing yourself in a video can be daunting, but it does motivate you to practice and improve your communication skills,” Associate Professor Cochrane says.