Cracking complex chemistry concepts
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.