Physicist's dream academy set to open

MATT STEWART - SCIENCE
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2012
Paul Callaghan
Sir Paul Callaghan

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The late Sir Paul Callaghan's dream of making New Zealand a more science-savvy nation takes off this week with the opening of the first academy named after the decorated physicist.

The Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy aims to produce more science graduates and skilled workers by helping teachers inspire their pupils.

“You don't need to teach a child curiosity," Sir Paul said before his death in March. "Curiosity is innate.

"You just have to be careful not to squash it. The challenge for the teacher is to foster and guide that curiosity."

Sir Paul, last year's New Zealander of the Year, was one of the country's most renowned scientists, who advocated for the role of science in creating a vibrant economy.

Waikato University biological sciences lecturer and science education advocate Alison Campbell said it was "wonderful" to see Sir Paul's dream realised. "In today's world we need to have a science-literate workforce - even if they don't end up working in science, they have that background knowledge of how the world works."

The four-day live-in workshop aims to give primary and intermediate teachers the skills to guide and inspire children's natural curiosity for science.

Richard Hartshorn, chairman of the National Science-Technology Roadshow Trust, said the pilot academy, being held from tomorrow, was fully booked with 22 teachers.

“We believe we can build, enhance, and sustain both their confidence and enthusiasm for science teaching,” Mr Hartshorn said.

Ultimately the academy would improve New Zealand's prosperity by creating a more “science-savvy” population.

“The challenge facing New Zealand is greater than any single organisation can confront; however, we believe a very good place to start is by laying a strong foundation for our youth.”

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- The Dominion Post

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