General news

Sarah John's in her classroom at Nelson College for Girls
14 February 2018

Local teacher awarded PM’s Science Prize

Cawthron Institute warmly congratulates Nelson College for Girls science teacher Sarah Johns on her Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize, awarded in Wellington today. Sarah has a close relationship with Cawthron, having spent six months at the Institute as part of a Royal Society Te Apārangi Teaching Fellowship.

During the fellowship Sarah worked with Cawthron Senior Scientist Dr Jonathan Banks. Dr Banks welcomed the award and said, “Sarah is very deserving of the Prime Minister’s Science Teacher Prize.  As part of her Fellowship, we were able to include Sarah as a field researcher on an expedition to Antarctica investigating the food webs in McMurdo Sound.

“Her commitment to education was evident during the trip. From Antarctica, Sarah video conferenced school children in New Zealand and overseas in places such as Hong Kong. She also shared her work through a popular and engaging Facebook page.

“Since the fellowship Sarah has maintained her connections to Cawthron Institute. She regularly sends students for work experience and they show Sarah’s infectious enthusiasm for science.”


Listen to Sarah Johns and Dr Jonathan Banks talk about their trip to Antarctica

During Sarah’s six-month placement at Cawthron, she was involved in many activities including co-authoring a review on the use of Greenshell mussel powders for alleviating symptoms of arthritis in pets, processing samples for microbiological analysis, field research investigating cyanobacteria blooms found on a lake near Kaikoura, and DNA extraction using molecular technologies.

Cawthron Chief Executive Prof. Charles Eason said, “It’s wonderful to see science teacher Sarah Johns recognised for her passionate work. Sarah inspires local budding scientists and we congratulate her and Nelson College for Girls on this Prize.”

Sarah is Head of Junior Science at Nelson College for Girls.

Two thirds of the $150,000 Prize will go to Nelson College for Girls and will support initiatives that include creating a well-equipped laboratory and establishing a scholarship research fund for pupils.

Sarah champions her students, encouraging them to consider careers in science and engineering. Sarah is also a member of the Cawthron Scitec Expo and the Nelson Association for Women in the Sciences.