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.