Last night I had the pleasure of spending the evening helping supervise 57 year 12 students as they competed in the CPIT/NZIC* Year 12 Chemistry competition.
At this time of year, with marking, timetabling and other “joyous” tasks it is easy to feel a bit jaded, and the idea of spending an evening with 57 year 12 students might not seem like such a great idea, however, I came away from the event feeling energized about the future of science and chemistry in New Zealand.
Perhaps it was watching the groups of three working so effectively together, or perhaps because they so enthusiastically tackled the labwork – working out unknown samples using qualitative tests. Maybe it was because so many students turned up, despite the fact that their school year has been so badly shaken by the earthquakes this year.
The evening was organised by my colleague, Dr David Hawke at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology so it had a strong practical focus. After all what better way to explore and enjoy chemistry than to spend time in the lab dissolving, mixing and looking at coloured solutions?
Looking around the room last night I could imagine the great potential of these young people turning into reality in a few short years, with some moving on to pursue careers using the chemistry they have and will learn – science, medicine, engineering to name but a few.
We still have two other competitions running this year for Year 10 and Year 11 students (the Year 13 competition was cancelled due to the February quake), something to look forward to.
*CPIT = Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
NZIC = New Zealand Institute of Chemistry