Bringing science to the people02/02/2016
Ordinary shipping containers are to be transformed into extraordinary teaching laboratories. They're free of charge and just waiting to come to your school, writes PETRA DEARDEN.
A lab in progress.
This article first appeared in New Zealand Science Teacher 2015 print journal. Find a complete issue of the journal, in digital format, here.
Lab-in-a-Box has landed and we are here to support you and your teaching in your school.
We know that you are amazing at your job, and that you engage every day with the future of New Zealand. We know that often it is a struggle to get the results you want with the tools at hand. We know that often rural schools miss out on the advantages of their urban counterparts, but Lab-in-a-Box wants to help you to help your students.
Until the end of 2015, Lab-in-a-Box will be available to schools free of charge. Charges may apply in 2016 and beyond, depending on what is requested, and consumable and transport charges.
This ambitious idea comes with government funding and a whole lot of enthusiastic industry support in the form of science toys, tricks and treats that will thrill and enthral. We have machines, telescopes, technology, consumables, safety gear, and most importantly, people – people who are as excited about your subject and your aims as you are.
Lab-in-a-Box is a shipping container transformed, sparkling and gorgeous, into a cutting-edge mobile teaching and research laboratory, and it is ready, waiting and willing to be taken to your school to support and extend your already wonderful programmes.
Lab-in-a-Box is a flexible and multifunctioning classroom, with its very own on-board, real-life, 100 per cent biodegradable, interactive educator. We will drop it in your school grounds and let you go crazy. Whatever your unit, we can come prepared.
Plus, Lab-in-a-Box will be something new, exciting and special in the school – and you, because you are amazing, brought it.
Your students will be able to carry out messy, but very fun science experiments (volcanoes are always popular), look at microscopic pond life, and check out a river’s health, peer inside an atom or look out to the planets and stars, or even design and 3D-print the ‘next big thing’.
Lab-in-a-Box will help you to let your students ‘have a go’ with practical science, and discover how science works and what scientists do. With the Science Learning Hub and the Science Media Centre, we will help you to show your students what science is happening in New Zealand and how scientists are making a difference in New Zealand and the world.
We want to work with you, the science teachers, and help you show your students how much fun it is to discover, detail, describe, develop and sometimes destroy things. Getting your hands dirty, ‘getting right up in it’, can spark a joy in science, and learning in general, that is lifelong. And you will be the coolest teacher.
Like a good political leader, Lab-in-a-Box wants to take science ‘to the people, by the people and for the people’. We want to bring to you the gear you need to teach the way you want to.
Initially Lab-in-a-Box will be visiting primary, intermediate and area schools in South Canterbury, Westland, Otago and Southland. Ultimately, the aim is to run programmes within secondary schools as well, and to make our pride and joy, our Lab-in-a-Box, available across the whole of our country.
Read more about this project here.
Unlocking Curious Minds
In mid-2015, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced funding for a range of projects supporting the interaction between science and New Zealand society. Unlocking Curious Minds is a pilot contestable fund, designed to support projects connecting citizens with science and innovation.
One of the grants was awarded to Genetics Otago, and the Lab-in-a-Box project is a collaboration with partners Otago Polytech, Otago Museum, the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre and Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary. Lab-in-a-Box aims to deliver hands-on, relevant science education to schools, in particular primary and intermediate students, and rural communities.