Thursday 2 September 2010 2:57pm
Talented senior science students from New Zealand’s provincial or rural, small and low decile schools will have the opportunity to reach their full potential as part of a new academy being launched by the University of Otago.
Supported with funding from the Government, the Otago University Advanced School Sciences Academy will host its first intake of 50 students in 2011.
Students will be nominated by their schools as they complete Year 12 study in 2010. Successful nominees will then be admitted to the academy, which will comprise two five-day residential science ‘camps’ at the University – one in January and the other in July – and also a web-based component that will enable participants to stay in touch throughout the year as part of an online science community.
The academy will see top University science teachers, researchers and communicators leading a wide range of curriculum-linked science projects that focus on mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology. The residential components will also cover elective science topics and include wider themes so that participants can gain a broad understanding of science and its place in the world, and an insight into the breadth of science career opportunities.
A professional development component for science teachers from participating schools will also be included as part of the academy programme.
“We welcome the Government’s contribution to this important initiative, which builds on more than two decades of experience in science outreach by the University of Otago,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg.
“Over that time it has become clear that science students from smaller, low decile rural and provincial schools tend to perform less well in their early years at University than those from larger, higher decile urban schools”.
“The difference in performance has much more to do with the greater specialisation in teaching and resources that are available in larger and higher decile schools than any difference in the underlying aptitude of the students. Our academy will provide participants with a greater opportunity to achieve highly in their final year of study at school. This, in turn, will enable them to enter New Zealand universities better prepared to excel in more advanced study”.
Following today’s announcement, which includes two years of initial funding support from the Government, the University of Otago will be contacting schools directly to seek nominees. Successful nominees will be required to demonstrate a strong interest in sciences, potential to excel at NCEA/Scholarship level, a commitment to complete tasks, and a willingness to develop team work and communication skills.
Participants will be asked to contribute a $200 commitment fee, but all other costs – including travel to and from Dunedin, residential costs, and tuition costs – will be covered.
Professor Vernon Squire,
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International)
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 8303
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