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Hands-on 2023 group image

Making memories – some of the student ‘blue shirts’ who were on campus in 2023.

It will be all hands on deck when hundreds of secondary students arrive in Dunedin on Sunday for a taste of Otago campus life.

For the first time since the programme Whai Wheako i Ōtākou, Hands-On at Otago began in 1990, the entire group of students will stay together – in the brand new residential college Te Rangihīroa.

From Sunday, 14 January to Friday, 19 January, 372 students from 172 schools around Aotearoa New Zealand will be based at the college, located on the corner of Albany and Forth Streets. This will be the first large event for Te Rangihīroa since it officially opened in October.

Hands-On at Otago Co-Convenor Dr Lisa Russell says having all the students under one roof will create a great atmosphere and increase opportunities for students to mix with their peers.

A significant highlight this year is that a student from Taranaki will get to experience Hands-On at Otago while living at Te Rangihīroa, with its special Taranaki connections, on a fully funded scholarship. The scholarship was set up by former Hands-On attendee Tane Whitehead (Taranaki, Te Atiawa (Taranaki)).

Hands-on at Otago is a fun, immersive programme that gives senior secondary students (those who will be in Years 12 and 13 in 2024) a taste of student life at Otago, with the aim of encouraging them to consider tertiary study, especially at Otago.

The students try out university subjects and take part in research projects – experiencing everything from lab work and bookbinding to solving a murder mystery. They also get to enjoy a varied recreational and social programme, including sports, games and a quiz night.

Hands-on using dry ice image

Students experiment with dry ice during a Hands-On at Otago session.

Co-Convenor Prajesh Chhanabhai says it’s great to see the students tackling new challenges and learning such a lot in just a few days.

"We look forward to welcoming these young curious minds and we love the energy they bring to the campus in January. In my other role as Schools' Liaison Officer, I get to see the ripple effect this programme has when these young people return to their home communities.”

Dr Russell says the interactive experiences organised by the departments are at the heart of the programme. She thanked staff for their hard work and commitment to making the event a success.

Dr Russell says in 2024, 86 of the young people attending will be on a scholarship.

“We’re very grateful to our scholarship providers. Their support means more students can access the programme and it helps us attract a diverse range of students from different backgrounds.”

About a quarter of those attending will be Māori and Pacific students.

-  Kōrero by Andrea Jones, Team Leader, Divisional Communications

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