Chem­istry a hard nut to crack


‘‘It’s re­ally good to see the stu­dents in smaller groups, talk­ing and de­bat­ing the answers.’’

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 co­or­di­na­tor of first year 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, said the classes were hard, push­ing what she al­ready knew.

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

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

Di­rec­tor Anne Ryan said the ex­ams were a real chal­lenge for kids and Hutt Sci­ence wanted 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 said.

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

‘‘We’re sup­port­ing the stu­dents in what they’re do­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘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 said they’d 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 learned in their own class­rooms.


Above, Chilton Saint James stu­dents Az­marah Ma­ni­parathy, left, and Leigh Lauv take in the schol­ar­ship chem­istry les­son. Left, St Pa­trick’s Col­lege Sil­ver­stream stu­dents Shel­don Pa­gaura, left, and Josh Clegg hard at work.

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