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Celebrating 30 years of science outreach at Otago

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Jean FlemingAn article just published in the New Zealand Science Review celebrates 30- years of science outreach at Otago. It presents the reader with an historical account of the development of community delivered outreach programmes by the University of Otago - and more specifically, those through the Division of Sciences and its contributing departments, schools and centres - a relationship that began in the 1970s. Although recognition for community service has been built into academic staff promotion processes for decades, it has only been available for non-academics since 2014 – which lends this article a point of difference given it has been co-authored by both academic and non-academic staff members.

Lead author, Jean Fleming, Professor Emerita in Science Communication (pictured right), was involved with 10 of the annual “Hands-on Science programmes, five as convenor. This steered to her involvement with the first New Zealand International Science Festival (NZISF) in 1997, leading the Programme Committee. Her efforts in bringing science to the public attention led to the award of a Suffrage Medal in 1993, a silver Science and Technology Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1998 and an ONZM for services to science in 2002. Retiring to the Kapiti Coast in 2015, Jean now spends her time as an environmental volunteer.

Passionate for science education and communication, Steve Broni established the Otago University Advanced School Sciences Academy (OUASSA) in 2010. Prior to this, Steve was an Educator with the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and stand-in Course co-ordinator for the University of Otago Diploma of Wildlife Management. He has worked widely overseas; and was a member of the ‘In the Footsteps of Scott Antarctic Expedition 1984-86’. Steve is also chairman of the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust and director for OUASSA.

Sandra Copeland - after working as a secondary science teacher for many years - has been associated with Hands-on Science (now Hands-on Otago) since 2005; first as Camp Manager and later as Coordinator. Having extensive science education experience in New Zealand, and being a self-professed teacher at heart, she is also the Science Education officer for Sciences.

Davina Hunt joined the Division of Sciences in 2009-13 to expand the fledgling Science Wānanga programme through partnerships with iwi and schools to enhance engagement of Māori students in Science.

Finally, Rose Newburn’s first role at Otago was running Hands-on Science, which led to her involvement in, and the development of a number of interactive, accessible, equitable and engaging science programmes delivered by the Division. Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Sciences at the time of writing, Rose is now a freelance writer.

Fleming, J. S., Broni S., Copeland, S., Hunt, D., and Newburn R. (2017). Thirty years of science outreach at the University of Otago. New Zealand Science Review Vol 74 (1): 10-13.

Find out more about the Division of Sciences outreach programmes.

Photo supplied: Lead author, Professor Emerita Jean Fleming