Crack­ing com­plex chem­istry con­cepts

The Dominion Post - - Capital Day - ELEANOR WENMAN

On a rainy af­ter­noon, a cou­ple of dozen stu­dents from sec­ondary schools around the Hutt Valley gath­ered in a class­room for a run through of tough chem­istry con­cepts.

The stu­dents are all study­ing for the New Zealand Schol­ar­ship ex­ams, on top of their NCEA re­quire­ments and have stopped in at a free work­shop run by Hutt Sci­ence.

Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity’s Suzanne Boni­face runs the chem­istry work­shops. A co-or­di­na­tor of firstyear chem­istry programmes at the uni­ver­sity, she’s well used to teach­ing sci­ence and has helped write study guides for year 12 and 13 classes.

She takes the stu­dents through lan­guage to use and dif­fer­ent chem­istry con­cepts, work­ing up a base of sound knowl­edge.

Chilton Saint James stu­dent Az­marah Ma­ni­parathy, 17, says the classes are hard, push­ing her past what she al­ready knows

‘‘But it will be help­ful,’’ she says.

The free work­shops are run by Hutt Sci­ence, a Hutt City Coun­cil ini­tia­tive pro­mot­ing sci­ence.

Direc­tor Anne Ryan says the ex­ams are a real chal­lenge for kids and Hutt Sci­ence wants to sup­port them in the lead-up to end-of-year ex­ams.

‘‘The ex­ams chal­lenge their crit­i­cal thinking and their abil­ity to ap­ply their learn­ing,’’ she says.

Only 3 per cent of stu­dents that sit the ex­ams re­ceive a schol­ar­ship.

‘‘We’re sup­port­ing the stu­dents in what they’re do­ing,’’ she says. ‘‘I think the stu­dents re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the cross-college con­nec­tions and it’s re­ally good to see the stu­dents in smaller groups, talk­ing and de­bat­ing the an­swers.’’

The work­shops are of­fered to year 13 stu­dents across both Up­per and Lower Hutt and sessions are hosted once a term, one each for bi­ol­ogy, physics and chem­istry.

Be­tween 30 and 50 stu­dents at­tend every work­shop, usu­ally hosted in the af­ter­noons in a class­room at Lower Hutt boys’ school St Bernard’s College.

The work­shops were first of­fered last year and Ryan says they had brought in the peo­ple who ‘‘re­ally knew their stuff’’ to run the sessions.

Aside from Boni­face, St Bernard’s head of physics David Hous­den ran a physics work­shop, while head of sci­ence at Wellington Girls’ College Chris­tine Pallin took the bi­ol­ogy course.

Ryan planned to run the cour­ses again later in the year, build­ing on knowl­edge the stu­dents learnt in their own class­rooms.


Chilton Saint James stu­dents Az­marah Ma­ni­parathy, left, and Leigh Lauv take in the schol­ar­ship chem­istry les­son.

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