Tag Archives: UC Science

Take a walk through time – UC Chemistry

Chemistry lab 1914: Taken by Samuel Page, a staff member of the Canterbury College Chemistry department, this 1914 photo shows the first year laboratory, which is today the site of UC’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities.

To celebrate the history of the Old Chemistry building at the Arts Centre – now home to the College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata – you can visit a free public display at Pūmanawa, the community exhibition space in the Arts Centre.

Take a walk through time, see old photographs and instruments and try to imagine what it was like to be a Chemistry student without the modern conveniences and technology we enjoy today.

This display is the result of a collaboration between Chemistry alumni, the College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata and the College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao, and is made possible by generous support from the UC Foundation.

The exhibition is on from Wednesday 27 June – Thursday 5 July, 10.00am – 4.00pm and is free to attend. 

How to make the most of a science fair – be a judge

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On Saturday 9 September, I was invited along with a bunch of my student peers to be a judge on the Canterbury Westlands Schools’ Science and Technology Fair 2017 at Ara Institute. Over 200 students enthusiastically presented their work on a variety of topics which, honestly, blew my mind!

Not having previous experience in judging a school science exhibition did not deter me. In fact, the very astute Tamsin Laird, outreach coordinator for the College of Science, made me talk about my background in journalism in a judges meeting to highlight my interest in and the relevance of science communication in today’s world. Because what better event than a science fair to think about changing the world?

Here’s why I thoroughly enjoyed judging the science fair:

  1. It took me back to a time (erm, decades ago) when I was a school student and exhibiting science projects to my peers and my teachers. Even if it wasn’t on such a large scale as the one at Ara, the butterflies in the stomach were unmistakable, as was the friendly competition among students! For the first time as an adult, I saw parents being apprehensive (but supportive) about the results of the competition!
  2. I went in without any preset expectations, but I had a set of guidelines and a very able school physics and chemistry teacher for a co-judge (judges were paired to check exhibits). The thoroughness of some students amazed me, but the cherry on the cake was understanding what motivated them to choose their topics.
  3. Many of the students took everyday problems they faced or witnessed around them to construct a hypothesis which they went on to prove or disprove. I wouldn’t be surprised if (hypothesis idea for next year!) a chunk of mankind’s discoveries were made similarly: by just observing or thinking about something that one witnessed. Imagine this: at one point, Lord Rayleigh must have just looked at the sky and wondered why it was blue. And then actually managed to find why! Our young padawans are on the right track.
  4. Young students are keenly observing the world around us. They left no stone unturned when it came to choosing a topic: right from things we take for granted (does a cat have a paw preference like humans are right and left handed?) to unmasking the veracity of an advertisement (do garlic supplements boost your health?) to the surprising finding (to me) that duck poo actually contains a host of e coli!

The scientific method may be methodical and some may say, almost contained, in its frame of hypothesis/observation — measurement — experiment — testing — modification and more experiments and testing in the over 400 years that it has existed for. However, for the lack of “better” methods, science continues to be the most effective tool we have developed and used to propel our species in understanding ourselves and our environment the best we can.

Giving young students an encouraging push towards science can mean a different and maybe positive history for our future generations. Go on then, introduce someone young to the marvellous world of science!

Written by Sneha Johari

Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson: A cosmic perspective

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American astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson presents A cosmic perspective for one night only in Christchurch at Horncastle Arena, 4 July.

The College of Science is a sponsor of the show and has a number of B reserve, C reserve and student tickets at 20% discount off the full price.

– B Reserve – Normal price $125 plus levy, with discount $100 plus levy
– C Reserve – Normal price $95 plus levy, with discount $76 plus levy
– Student – Normal price $55 plus levy, with discount – $44 plus levy

Get tickets here.