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Māori students put chemistry theory into practice


Chemistry theory in practice for rangatahi Māori

As part of the Pūhoro kaupapa students had the opportunity to extract and identify the pigments in either blueberries or cabbage by dissolving them in solvents over a bunsen burner. The Institute of Fundamental Sciences provided the lab space, equipment and supervisors to oversee the experiments.

Director of Academy Programmes Naomi Manu says, “A lot of these schools don’t have labs in which they can do these practical experiments in and this gives them an opportunity to put theory into practice in a university lab.”

Manukura High School student Pipar Awahou says, “Being able to come here and learn first-hand is awesome. We usually just learn the theory by writing notes, but actually doing some experiments makes it way easier to understand.”

Along with an introduction to Matariki, students participated in veterinary science, marine biology and engineering career exposure workshops. Scientists held Q+A sessions on topics such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics pathways, scientific research, transitioning from secondary school to tertiary, student debt and scholarships.

Ms Manu says the Academy is working to remedy the shortage of Māori studying science at university.  

“While the past 20 years have seen increasing number of Māori engaging in tertiary study, Māori have been more drawn to the social sciences, arts or humanities. This kaupapa is all about ensuring other options for Māori are explored, particularly within the sciences.”

The students, much to their delight, were presented with Pūhoro merchandise.

Pūhoro kaihautū (Navigator) Leland Ruwhiu says the clothing is an important step in unifying the students. “We’re really trying to get them to think of themselves as one unit and not individual schools, so giving them t-shirts and hoodies that bring them together, helps to mentally break down those barriers.”

The programme was established in 2016 to expand the tertiary and career opportunities for Māori rangatahi (youth) by providing opportunities for them to consider science based study and employment opportunities. The kaupapa supports students from year 11 through to university, with extra tutoring on a fortnightly basis, laboratory space for schools without their own facilities, support selecting qualification standards at school, and field trip opportunities.

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