Investigating the past and present condition of the Waikato River was the task for 39 top Year 12 students last month at the University of Waikato.
The week-long action-packed Hill Laboratories Waikato Science Summer School ran on December 4-9, and gave the students a taste of what it can be like to study science and engineering at a tertiary level.
Travelling the River
The week kicked off with a visit to the The Mighty River Waikato exhibition at the Waikato Museum, followed by a road trip up the river with stops at Lake Taupo and Tokaanu Power Station, and an overnight stay at Turangi.
The following day the group travelled back down the river, with stops to explore and collect samples at the Craters of the Moon, Wairakei, Aratiatia Rapids, Waipapa Dam, the Karapiro Stream and the Hamilton Water Treatment Plant.
Students spent the remainder of the week in Waikato University’s science and engineering labs, analysing samples and conducting experiments to determine the environmental and physical changes to the river and the surrounding land as it flows between Taupo and Hamilton.
Group presentations by the students brought the week to an end. Topics of focus included the natural, unmodified Waikato River; dam and power generation on the river; the influence of rural land use on the river; and the effects of urban development on the river.
“I was incredibly impressed with the quality of students we had coming through the Science Summer School this year. They appeared interested in what was presented to them, and undertook the tasks given to them more than competently. If this is a reflection of the quality of the students we have coming through, then the future of science in New Zealand is in good hands,” says Dr Ian Duggan, Science Summer School Convenor.
Main sponsor Hill Laboratories is the country’s largest privately owned analytical testing laboratory
“Good science is close to our heart, and our strategic plan includes an intention to support young people as they pursue their own interests in science,” says Steve Howse, Hill Laboratories General Manager.
Waikato’s Summer School is an annual event run by Rotary District 9930 and Waikato University’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, with sponsorship from Hill Laboratories.