Taking science on the road
‘‘It's great. It's a different way of learning and a different way to engage [the students].’’
Some of the country’s top boffins and a converted shipping container are changing the way kids look at science.
‘‘Lab in a Box’’ is a science laboratory built inside a 20 foot shipping container and has been touring North Island schools since March.
This week the kids at Koraunui School in Lower Hutt have been using the portable educational resource to get a firsthand look at biology.
Teacher Dianne Christenson said the lab was a great addition to the students’ curriculum and gave them access to equipment and expert knowledge they did not have in the classroom.
‘‘It’s great. It’s a different way of learning and a different way to engage [the students].’’
Lab in a Box is an initiative started about two years ago by Otago University associate professor Peter Dearden as a way of taking science to schools. It is funded by a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Unlocking Curious Minds grant.
The lab is transported by truck and targets mostly schools in rural or isolated areas that do not have ready access to specialist scientific learning resources.
Research fellow Dr Miriam Sharpe and professional practice fellow Shar Rae-Whitcombe of the University of Otago Department of Biology are the two scientists taking biochemistry sessions at Koraunui School between November 13 and 17.
They are helping students understand the molecules that make up living things.
‘‘It’s exciting to get kids into this stuff. It’s a wonderful thing to bring science into schools and to show science isn’t beyond their reach,’’ Sharpe said.
Victoria University brought Lab in a Box to the North Island and science facilitator Suz Bassett said she had taken the lab as far north as Kaharoa.
They had taught a range of subjects from the lab such as chemistry, pest trapping, studying invertebrates and a special examination of wasps and bees.
The lab was equipped with microscopes, a full chemistry lab, high-speed cameras and telescopes. The next stop for Lab in a Box was Avalon School.