Finding the next Maori Einstein

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Kia ora whanau

Whangaia te manu o te ngahere ki te miro, nana te ngahere. Whangaia te tamaiti ki te matauranga, nona te Ao! Feed the bird of the forest the miro berry and he will own the forest. Feed the child knowledge and he will own the world.

We had a great day today as guest judges to the Bay of Plenty Junior Science & Technology Fair here in Rotorua. While this is just a small korero on some of the things we saw today, it was refreshing to see young minds come alive and try to make sense of this world in which they live.

From learning how bacteria grew on your toothbrush to measuring the levels of bacteria within a local stream system, we got to talk to intermediate science students and listen to their projects, asking what inspired them and how they came about selecting this particular project.

You could see it in the time and attention each tauira gave and knew that their minds were expanding with each experiment they undertook. I loved walking through their project, listening to what they observed and understood; also it was fascinating to hear examples of when their initial hypothesis changed over time. That was cool.

In the back, we sat amongst 70 judges, each of whom took the task seriously as we respected the science community and its contribution to our own lives, but also understood the delicate nature of the fair and that young lives were being put forward. In pairs, we split up and looked at a number of projects, talking for about 25 minutes with each and then putting forward our own score sheet. This was amazing as we got to interact with the rangatahi and be absolutely blown away by each and every one. It was tough as it is a competition.

At the same time, Aunty Bea was a judge and talked about the Putaiao Award, as well as keeping an eye out for Maori science in action as well as Te Arawa student projects. This, she said, was a great way to bring the entire whanau onboard with learning. She talked about a previous winner, weighing the different fibre of Harakeke, and said this event was a great way to showcase Maori knowledge and to encourage Maori tamariki into science and as a confidence builder.

So yea, great day and if you want to go down to the Rotorua Convention Centre to check out the BOP Fair Projects, the BOP Junior Science & Technology Fair will be there for the next couple days. Kia kaha taioha ma, rangatahi ma.

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