Pupils vis­it­ing Uni­ver­sity of Otago hav­ing a whale of a time

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN & GENERAL - JOHN GIBB [email protected]

FOUR young vis­i­tors to Dunedin may have been se­nior sec­ondary school pupils but were heav­ily out­ranked in se­nior­ity yes­ter­day, when they en­coun­tered a 26 mil­lion­yearold whale fos­sil.

Kaitlin Bur­den, of Christchurch, and North Is­landers Pippa Ben­ton, Annabel Chilcott, and Klee Beg­bie were among 380 par­tic­i­pants in the Uni­ver­sity of Otago’s 30th an­nual Hands­On at Otago pro­gramme.

They en­joyed their close en­counter with a large whale fos­sil, of the Tokarahia kauaeroa species, from near Dun­troon, in North Otago, while un­der­tak­ing ‘‘snack’’ study in ge­ol­ogy.

The 380 pupils from through­out the coun­try have con­verged on the uni­ver­sity for its lat­est week­long pro­gramme for pupils study­ing sciences, hu­man­i­ties and com­merce.

Kaitlin said her ex­pe­ri­ences had been ‘‘re­ally in­ter­est­ing’’, and Pippa said she now re­alised ge­ol­ogy in­volved much more — in­clud­ing fos­sils — than she had ear­lier re­alised.

The pro­gramme of­fers a taste of re­search life at Otago, and pupils work on a project in the morn­ings, and try brief ‘‘snacks’’ on other sub­jects in the af­ter­noon.

Pro­gramme co­or­di­na­tor Dee Roben said that of the over­all par­tic­i­pants, 130 were pupils study­ing hu­man­i­ties or com­merce.

This was the fourth year the event had been widened, be­yond the ear­lier strictly science cur­ricu­lum.

PHOTO: CHRIS­TINE O’CON­NOR

An­cient crea­ture . . . Sec­ondary school pupils Kaitlin Bur­den (17), of Christchurch, Pippa Ben­ton (17), of Whangarei, Annabel Chilcott (16), of Palmer­ston North, and Klee Beg­bie (16), of Pu­taruru, en­counter an an­cient whale fos­sil at the Uni­ver­sity of Otago yes­ter­day.

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