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Rotary Science and Technology Forum 2021

Two of our budding young scientists Dani Daw and Ryan Townsend spent two weeks of their summer at the Rotary Science and Technology Forum 2021 at Auckland University where they stayed in the halls for the two weeks.

Dani and Ryan had to apply to go to the forum and be interviewed by a panel to gain the coveted spots reserved for our region. They were the only two from Whakatane to have been selected for the forum which hosted over 174 Year 12 students (going into Year 13) from all around New Zealand. Dani says they “both have an interest in pursuing a career in Science when we leave school and this forum was a great opportunity for us to explore a wide variety of different applications of Sciences that we might not otherwise be exposed to”. With Auckland University having the facilities and permission, the duo were exposed to Science experiences typically reserved for University education. They were able to dissect whole sheep, play with liquid nitrogen and hold real human brains, all of which were experiences that they enjoyed and were amazed with. For Dani, who wishes to pursue a career in psychology and enjoys looking at the brain and human behaviour, she particularly enjoyed the psychology module looking at brains. “We got to hold real human brains, looked at cross sections of the brains and compared brains that were normal with those that had had a stroke”. For Ryan, the lectures were really fun, “I enjoyed the robotics lecture which was a lot of practical work, we made our own robot with sensors that we could drive around a maze. I have been dead set on getting into physics and going to this forum has cemented that”.

Aside from the Science experiences, both students agree that it was great to be surrounded by other students who had the same interests, career aspirations and passion for the Sciences. They both made friends for life, and say they are in a group chats with their new friends and are so glad we met them. For Dani, that was a highlight - “I loved meeting all the like minded people and knowing that when I go to Uni I will know some people already”. The experience required them to “put ourselves out there to meet people, experience uni life, see how different Uni life is from High School - I feel a lot more comfortable and excited about going to Uni next year now” Dani says.

Across the two weeks Dani and Ryan spent a lot of time with their new friends outside of lectures. Their groups played in a volleyball tournament, they had a disco, a special end of forum dinner, a beach day and spent time around Auckland including going up the Sky Tower.

We would both like to thank Rotary and Trident for the opportunity and the financial support to enable us to go to Auckland for a two week trip that was not only a great experience, but has set us up on the right path to launch into Year 13 and beyond. They encourage anyone who enjoys the Sciences to apply for next year as they know it will impress anyone who goes.

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