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How you can get a taste of Psychology while still at school

There are a number of ways you can learn about Psychology while still in school:

Hands-On Science

Hands-on Science is a one-week long summer camp organised by the University of Otago. It is held in January for students entering Years 11, 12, and 13. 250 students from around the country stay in one of our residential colleges and learn about a range of science areas.


Find out more about Hands-On Science

You will choose a main research project to study every morning, based in one department at the university. In the afternoons, there are “snacks” available for some of the other sciences that you may be interested in. Psychology is available as both a project and a snack. Here is the description of our project:

Title: The Science of Human Behaviour

Description: You will be both experimenter and participant as we introduce you to intriguing aspects of human behaviour. What do males and females look for in a mate? Why does prejudice occur? How do we measure personality? You will explore issues like these while learning about how scientific research is conducted in psychology and how to design your own experiments. You will also tour the department and meet scientists and clinicians working in different areas of psychology.

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Accolades for our 2014 Hands-on Science teachers

There are over 400 applicants for the week-long Hands-on Science camp. This year, Jess Johnston and Ben Riordan took time out of their roles as PhD students to teach the 20 successful secondary school students. They report that it was an AMAZING experience and they had an absolute blast! So, seems did their students, as they were sent the following beautiful tribute. Take a look at it here and see what you could be a part of next year!

Tribute to Jess and Ben (2014 Hands-on Science teachers)

Otago University Advanced School Sciences Academy

Science Academy is an exciting new programme aimed at Year 13 students with a passion for science and the potential, and commitment to excel in their final year NCEA and/or scholarship science exams. It is aimed for students from rural, provincial, or low decile schools throughout New Zealand. Students attend both a January camp and a July camp, held at the University of Otago. Throughout the year, students are also enrolled in “virtual academy.”

Find out more about the Science Academy

Psychology offers a short 2 hour elective project as part of the Science Academy programme. Here is the description of our elective:


In this elective, you will have the opportunity to act as both the experimenter and a participant in psychology experiments. We will also explore how the experiences of animals (and humans) shape their behaviour, and look at some of the equipment that researchers use to study how animals learn through the consequences of their actions.

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International Science Festival

photo from international science festival

photo from international science festivalEvery two years, Dunedin hosts the International Science Festival. As part of the festival the University of Otago runs a two day interactive Science Expo on campus. This is open to everyone and has free entry. The Expo involves about 30 different displays and events involving many different science topics.

Find out more about the International Science Festival

Psychology has been involved in the past two Expos, with interactive activities and interesting posters at our expo stand that have proved to be very popular for children and adults alike. Stay tuned for 2014 for the next Science Festival!

Tertiary Information Day

Tertiary Info Day happens in early May every year at Otago, so keep this page bookmarked and check for updated info. A large number of people come from out of town to visit the Info Day as it's a way to see the university in action. A number of talks and presentations occur throughout the day, as well as tours of departments and an interactive expo.

Find out more about Tertiary Information Day

There is a 1-hour Psychology presentation and discussion which is very popular with students. Check the website above for information about the time and location of this talk.

Contacts and Other Resources

Celia Lie image

Dr Celia Lie
Tel 64 3 479 3765

Dr Lie, a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Psychology, is involved in the co-ordination of the Hands on Science, Science Academy, and International Science Festival projects.

Please contact her if you have any questions regarding these.

Our department is full of very exciting research conducted by world-class researchers

You can find out more about the diverse range of research interests and projects carried out by our staff and students below:

You can investigate the different aspects of Psychology further by checking out the following sites:

For Teachers

Dr Celia Lie is also interested in local school visits to promote psychology directly to students and to help with science projects, as part of the University's focus on outreach to schools. Please contact her to arrange a visit if your students are interested in hearing more about psychology.

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