Young minds shine at Cawthron Scitec Expo

15 August 2023

This year’s Cawthron Scitec Expo has attracted a stellar number of entries, with more than 270 projects by Nelson Tasman students to be displayed at Founders Heritage Park in Nelson on 22 August.

Scitec is a regional STEAMS (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) fair which has been running for well over 30 years with the support of various businesses and local organisations. Students from primary, intermediate and secondary schools enter science experiments, research, technology or art projects which are assessed by a large team of volunteer judges over the course of two days. In most cases, this involves interviewing the students and the public are also invited to come and view their mahi.

Scitec co-ordinator Karen Goodger said organisers were thrilled to see entry numbers returning to pre-covid levels.

“The special thing about this event is that it gives students the chance to lead their own learning by using STEAMS to explore questions and topics that are of personal interest to them.

“Even scanning through the list of entries is awesome – there’s such a wide range of topics with anything from cryptography to protein gummies, from home-made laser cutters to whether football players are worth their pay, and from healthy waterways to latin romance.

“It’s fascinating seeing what these bright young minds can come up with and where their thinking is at.”

One of the trends that has been more evident this year is primary and intermediate schools holding their own science fairs in the lead-up to Scitec, with just a selection of their very best entries being submitted to the regional event.

“We’re also seeing more students submitting projects in pairs or groups. More than 600 students are involved in the 270 projects that have been submitted, and many more have been involved in science fairs within their own school. With so much pressure on school timetables, it’s encouraging to see some really motivated local teachers putting this effort into STEAMS education which offers so many more options to our younger generation.”

This year there are nine class entries, the majority of which are classes in Years 1 – 4.

“We are offering a prize for the best class project, and hopefully we’ll see students who have enjoyed participating as part of a group, progress to submitting their own entries in future.”

A large number of local businesses and organisations support the event, providing sponsorship for prizes and/or staff with expert knowledge to assist with judging. “We are hugely grateful for this support,“ said Goodger. Prize winners will be announced at a separate prizegiving event held in October.

The public are invited to view the Scitec Expo in the Energy Centre at Founders Heritage Park between 3.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday 22 August.

Matt Miller with greenshell mussels in lab
Image: Ranzau School. 
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