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Science Academy (OUASSA) Teacher Workshops

2021 Teacher Workshop applications are now open

Apply now

Teacher Professional Development Programme 2021

What you need to know

Monday 18–Thursday 21 January 2021

Our professional development workshops for secondary school teachers in January 2021 will cover a range of science subject areas.

Sessions will be run by academic teaching staff at the University and invited speakers who specialise in science outreach. The focus will be on practical sessions and current academic research linked to the New Zealand Science Curriculum.

Some of the experiences will include:

  • Optional practical sessions for senior biology, chemistry and physics run concurrently
  • Forensic science interactive session
  • Resource sharing and programme planning
  • Citizen science workshop with local project facilitators
  • Field trip to Otago Peninsula to participate in the Litter Intelligence project
  • A practical session about Sport and Exercise Science
  • Using story-telling and videos to engage students in science topics

In 2020 we can accommodate up to 16 participants in the Teacher Programme.

To date, our professional development workshops have been very well received and we will continue to work hard to ensure the programme provides you with new skills, insights and resources to enhance your classroom teaching.

The overall aim is to present tools and techniques that teachers can apply back in their classrooms. We also aim to foster links, discussions and support between teachers and academic staff at the University of Otago.

Professional development workshop date and times:

Monday 18 January, 3:00pm
Thursday 21 January, 12:00pm


Accommodation will be at Arana College, University of Otago, Dunedin campus, with the workshops and activities on and around campus.


$450 plus travel
This covers your programme costs, accommodation and meals. Transport will be provided to and from Dunedin airport or bus station.

Withdrawal of Ministry of Education funding in 2019 means we are no longer able to cover travel costs to and from Dunedin.

Online applications open on 14 September 2020.

Teacher applications close on Friday 13 November 2020.

For further information, contact:

Petrina Duncan
Science Teaching Co-ordinator
Science Academy (OUASSA)
Tel +64 3 470 3496

Otago University Utaina! Symposium

The University is running a one-day workshop for teachers about learning and exploring science in te reo Māori on Friday 22 January, the day after our PLD workshop. Teachers registering for Science Academy’s PLD workshop (18–21 January) who want to stay on for this one-day workshop on Friday 22 January may be eligible for a travel subsidy to and from Dunedin.

For more details:

Visit Utaina! Ko ngā hua pūtaiao i te reo Māori – A hui about learning and exploring science in te reo Māori

2020 Summer Teacher Workshops

2020 Teachers and University staff image
Teachers and University staff of the Science Academy 2020 January teachers' camp.

Forensic science crime scene activity image
Forensic science 'crime scene' activity.

The withdrawal of the Ministry of Education financial support for the Science Academy (OUASSA) and its Teacher Professional Development Programme this year has meant we are only able to run one Workshop in 2020 and unable to fund teacher travel to Dunedin. The impact of this was a drop in participation from our usual 15-21 teachers from rural/provincial schools across the North and South islands to just nine, with all but one coming from the South Island.

During a pleasingly warm Dunedin week, our nine science teachers attended one of two streams, either the General Science or a Marine Science programme, with all coming together for Monday night and Thursday morning sessions (see timetables below).

Teachers and students at the Portobello Marine Science classroom 1 image
Teachers and students at the Portobello Marine Science classroom 2 image
Teachers and students at the Portobello Marine Science classroom 3 image
Teachers and students at the Portobello Marine Science classroom.

On the first evening, all teachers participated in a mock crime scene activity with staff from Forensic Analytical Science. The focus was on finding and analysing evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, DNA samples and unknown chemical substances. The teachers found the session very engaging and hoped to run similar activities back at their schools.

Our three teachers who attended the Marine Science programme at Portobello focused on how to teach students about ocean acidification in a practical, engaging way. The simple experiments that they were shown could be repeated in any science classroom, giving students a clear insight into how oceans are affected by increasing CO2 concentrations and decreasing pH levels.

On the second day, teachers were put to the test when 11 students from our Summer Camp joined them to trial the experiments. All three teachers enjoyed being able to put into action what they had just learnt and how to link it to multiple strands of the NZ Curriculum.

The six teachers who participated in the General Science programme went along to the School of Physical Education & Sports Science on the second day to participate in Sport and Exercise Science relevant to junior school students.

Teachers learn about coastal geology with Sophie Briggs image
Teachers learn about coastal geology with Sophie Briggs

Next was a field trip to some of Dunedin’s beaches with the Geology department, looking at coastal Otago rocks and discussing formation processes, as well as how to integrate Geology into the junior Science curriculum. A highlight was when the Otago Daily Times turned up with a reporter and film crew.

See the footage in the ODT article

The third day of the General Science PLD programme included three different options covering aspects of Physics, Genetics or Chemistry. Teachers enjoyed working in small groups with university staff and being able to tailor each session to their particular areas of interest. In Chemistry they practised carrying out titrations for Level 2/3 internal assessments.

Using crash trolleys to measure collisions 1 image
Physics lab photos - using crash trolleys to measure collisions.

During the Physics session, the teachers tested out some applications which turn mobile phones into data-gathering powerhouses, then investigated collisions using crash trolleys. Over in the Genetics lab, they ran samples of bacterial DNA through gel electrophoresis and practised setting up gels using micro-pipettes. Lastly everyone attended a session where they met a team of Physics staff who are developing a Level 3 Physics assessment task in both te reo Maori and English.

using crash trolleys to measure collisions 2 image

All of the sessions were very well received and left the teachers feeling excited about all the new activities they can now do with their students. The final morning workshop was spent sharing resources and discussing ways to integrate their new knowledge into future teaching plans.

Quotes from teachers:

“The workshops were relevant and engaging - very inspiring and excellent role models for classroom teaching.”

“It was so helpful that the teacher participants got together at the end and shared resources to use in the classroom….. I hope this event [will] be continued with funding and invite beginner teachers like me, who also came from another country.”

2019 Winter Teacher Workshop

Twenty one teachers took advantage of a great winter programme with lots of practical and theoretical activities to support their teaching back in the classroom. The programme kicked off with some enlightening presentations by the Otago Medical School on current scientific advancements in medicine.

July 2019 PD Teachers image

Morning practical sessions were held in the Anatomy and Botany departments with further practical activities run by the Departments of Pharmacology and Toxicology. All of these provided opportunities to learn new information and practical skills. Breakout groups worked collaboratively in both the Physics and Genetics/Biochemistry workshops.

July 2019 PD Toxicology image

The ever popular sessions with the NZQA moderators were well received and the final evening socialising with research staff was the ideal way to learn more about latest research focus across various a wide range science disciplines in a relaxed environment.

July 2019 teacher PD moderation session image

2019 Summer Teacher Workshop

Alongside the student programme, we also ran the first of this year’s Teacher Workshops to help support science classroom teaching at our participating schools.  Sixteen teachers attended hands-on full-day lab sessions in Genetics/Biochemistry and Physics, as well as shorter sessions in sport and exercise Science, internals planning and seminars.

“Great to be able to network in Physics and Biology with a small group of teachers in similar situations. Excellent to gain some specific information regarding good websites and info sources.”

2019 Teacher Workshop