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Sir Paul Callaghan was a great scientist, a superb science communicator, and a visionary with a very clear idea of the importance of science and science education to New Zealand’s future: a future where our population is ‘science-savvy’ and where students are attracted to study for careers in science, technology and engineering. If that’s to happen, we need to catch students early, nuture their natural curiosity, & maintain their enthusiasm for the sciences throughout their educational trajectories.

And for that to happen, our teachers need to be supported in developing and enhancing their own skills. This is particularly the case for teachers in primary schools, where recent reports have identified quite significant issues with delivery of science programs – due at least in part to a lack of professional development and support for primary science teaching.

Which is where the Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy comes in to it. It reflects Sir Paul’s belief that

You don’t need to teach a child curiosity. Curiosity is innate. You just have to be careful not to squash it. This is the challenge for the teacher – to foster and guide that curiosity.

Launched today, the Academy aims to

inspire primary teachers to foster and guide the natural curiosity of children; and promote excellence in science teaching through intensive, best practice, inservice training courses.

The intention is that the 24 teachers who attend each Academy session will then be able to become champions of science** in their own school communities. The program’s goals and intended outcomes are praiseworthy, and its success would be a living memorial to a great New Zealander.

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** great to see that they will receive ongoing mentoring; I must hope that their schools will receive the resourcing to allow their champions to fulfill this demanding role.