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Sweet success at the University of Waikato’s first ever Science and Engineering Open Week

5 July 2017

University of Waikato Science and Engineering Open Week 2017
Secondary school students from Thames High School sorting different sized lollies without touching them was just one of the tasks encountered by school students at the University of Waikato’s Science & Engineering Open Week last week.

Sorting different sized lollies without touching them was just one of the tasks encountered by school students at the University of Waikato’s Science & Engineering Open Week last week.

More than 500 secondary school students from across the North Island came to the university’s first-ever Science and Engineering Open Week which offered Year 12 and 13 students the chance to attend hands-on workshops and experience a day in the life of science and engineering students.

The workshops covered the programmes on offer in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. They gave potential tertiary students a taste of the fun and varied subjects available to study as part of a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Technology) and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours).

The lolly-sorting workshop was just one of the tasks encountered by students during the Engineering sessions. The Chemical and Biological Engineering and Materials and Process Engineering session challenged groups of students to find a suitable strategy to sort a range of lollies using separation processes such as air classification, filtration and gravity. The project emphasised how engineers must separate materials such as plastics and synthetic fibres to recover useful product within them.

Also on the programme for Engineering was a Mechanical Engineering workshop where students constructed and modified cars using different wheel sizes and gear ratios for delivering a bottle of water as fast as possible to an area on top of a ramp. A Civil and Environmental Engineering workshop showed students the importance of reinforcing materials, while an Electronic and Software Engineering workshop called for programming an electronic mousetrap.

In Molecular and Cellular Biology students learnt about human physiology, measuring the strength of their grip force. They explored rock and mineral specimens and tried to lift a meteorite from Antarctica in Earth Sciences, and investigated micro-invertebrates as a measure of freshwater quality in Ecology and Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences. In Chemistry and Materials Science, students experimented with liquid nitrogen and explosive reactions.

Professor Chad Hewitt, Dean of the School of Science, said feedback was positive. “We had students come from as far away from as Whangarei, Hawke’s Bay and Nelson. It’s clear that school students, their parents and teachers really value the opportunity to talk one-on-one with our staff and current students, while getting hands-on experience in our science and engineering laboratories. It was very encouraging to see students engaged with the changes we’ve made to the curriculum that allow greater access to other disciplines through minors.”

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