I felt very privileged to MC the Realise the Dream celebratory awards dinner at Te Papa last night. Unfortunately, it seems that all of the (much deserved) attention given to the Prime Minister’s Science Awards recipients on Tuesday has resulted in this very special event, which celebrates the rather staggering scientific achievements of secondary scholars, flying somewhat under the media radar.
There are so many opportunities for kids to get amongst science at school these days – the Bright Sparks programme, the Science Fair, the CREST programme, the Freemason’s Reel Science Film Festival, among many others. Realise the Dream in a way acts as an umbrella over these initiatives, taking top achievers from each, treating them to an action packed science camp in December, and then wrapping it up with the much anticipated Awards Night.
The top prize, the Genesis Energy Supreme Award, went to an outstanding student from Onslow College, Stanley Roache. Stanley explored and later modeled the phenomenon of coloured rings that are visible when you look down the end of highly polished metal tubes. This guy blew me away – not only does he have an incredible grasp of physics, he can also really hold his own in front of a crowd, as evidenced by his totally unscripted and very sincere acceptance speech. And this was no school assembly! Dotted around the room were the Governor General, the Minister of Science, the Chancellor of Massey University, the Prime Minister’s 2010 Emerging Scientist John Watt, Chief Executives of high-powered companies…. you get the picture.
If you get a spare moment and feel like a good dose of inspiration, go to the Realise the Dream website and learn more about the incredible research projects that these students have done – you’ll learn about the invention of a remote control lawnmower, developments in the treatment of mastitis in dairy cows, a device to transfer data directly between memory sticks, ways for parents to monitor their children’s internet usage and how temperature influences the feeding rate of bees. But I must warn you: be prepared to feel rather inadequate – I certainly did when I thought back to my school science project – trying to figure out which chicken was the boss in our paddock…