Boys’ School Packed for Science Talks!
August 12, 2016 at 3:21 PM
The Boys’ School welcomed two of New Zealand’s top scientists to speak at the 2016 Science Symposium last night. Students and their parents packed JC Chalmers Hall from wall to wall to hear from cognitive neuroscientist, Dr Kerry Spackman and Dr Cather Simpson, Associate Professor, Photon Factory, Auckland University. Also joining the speaker’s line up was Executive Director of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, Mr Andrew Bell. Not to be outdone, we added one more scientist to the mix - Year 8 student, Isaac Mellis-Glynn!
An evening dedicated to science helps students to consider the possibilities of science as a career. The Symposium is timed to support this term’s focus on the Science Fair for the boys in Years 7 and 8. They have been working in pairs or independently on a project of their own scientific interest that required following a line of investigation and drawing their own conclusions. With their work on display last night, the Symposium allowed the boys to communicate their findings back to their peers and the School community.
To add something special, our four guests were invited to share their thoughts and ideas with the boys and their families, adding inspiration and motivation for our future scientists and citizens of New Zealand.
Our first speaker, Dr Kerry Spackman has a background in Formula One racing and working with some of the most successful sportspeople where both technology and science have played a major role in advancing their careers. In addressing the students, he said that they could become the richest people in the world, but to be successful, you have to get along with people and know how to network your ideas. ‘Be a good person, never give up, work hard and follow your passion!’
Our second speaker, Mr Andrew Bell, has a special connection, as he was once Chaplain for Saint Kentigern. He joked that while he is not a scientist, he will probably be remembered for conducting science experiments in Chapel that occasionally went awry – like the exploding eggs episode! In his current role with the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, science and technology contribute significantly to helping thousands of people around the world regain their sight. He explained that during World War 2, ophthalmologists became aware that the body did not expel glass impaled in the eye during bombing raids. This was the catalyst for developing intraocular lenses that can help save sight being lost to cataracts. Technology designed by Sir Ray Avery, saw the cost of lenses being significantly reduced to greatly assist in the poor countries of the world – ‘a miraculous piece of plastic.’
Dr Cather Simpson was our final speaker, explaining that the Photon Factory at Auckland University is a multi-user laser facility where students and staff study how molecules convert light to useful energy and exploit short laser pulses in micromachining projects for scientists all over New Zealand.
As an example, she explained that photons are currently being used for cost effective technology in animal husbandry, enabling farmers to focus on the production of either quality bulls for breeding or dairy cows for milk production. Dr Simpson along with her two PhD students, Andy Wang and Nina Novikova, made use of UV light to demonstrate fluorescence in some spectacularly 'highlighted lilies' that had been left to absorb highlighter ink up through their freshly cut stems. She encouraged the boys to make a hypothesis, take a risk and if it turns out ‘wrong,’ to learn from it.
Our guests may have been a tough act to follow but Head Boy, Issac Mellis-Glynn is not shy about speaking to a large gathering. Well versed in speech making, he delivered a fantastic presentation about the trials and tribulations of conducting a science project that tested the health of Auckland’s waterways – right down to being bitten by an eel in the process!
Principal, Mr Peter Cassie closed the evening saying that ‘science gives humanity hope; it makes us think about our world and our future.’
Our thanks to science teachers, Mrs Patsy Hindson and Mr Steven Tait for their work to bring this evening together, along with our student MC’s, Quinn Thomson and Joe Duncan. Our very special thanks to Dr Kerry Spackman, Mr Andrew Bell and Dr Cather Simpson for taking the time to share their expertise with us. This was an evening of scientific discovery enjoyed by all.