Smithy doomed to die in unfortunate ways

All in the name of 'edutainment'

GEOFF LEWIS
Last updated 07:42 28/11/2013
Duncan Smith
CHRIS HILOCK/Fairfax NZ
FORMULA THAT WORKS: Award-winning St Paul’s Collegiate chemist Duncan Smith.

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The problem with Smithy is that he was doomed to die in unfortunate ways - from dodgy nightclub drinks to being the victim of wayward wax jobs.

But his sacrifice was worth it to provide secondary school students with a better understanding of chemistry.

Smithy is a fictional character whose fatal exploits feature in a series of scenarios developed by St Paul's Collegiate chemistry teacher and head of science Duncan Smith.

For his efforts Mr Smith was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Denis Hogan Chemical Education Award.

Mr Smith created Smithy as a reaction to the recent introduction of a new national standard curriculum for chemistry, for which there turned out to be no resources.

The scenarios challenge students to discover and understand why Smithy has died from a series of odd chemical mishaps, including imbibing a deadly cocktail in a Bali nightspot, picking a deadly short cut through a freight forwarding yard and even waxing his dreadlocks.

"Chemistry is a tool students can use wherever they go. Some will go on to teach chemistry, others will use chemistry in things like engineering and health sciences. I believe in edutainment. So long as the students are having fun they're learning."

Mr Smith is contracted to Waikato University to help teacher trainees develop practical skills when it comes to teaching chemistry.

He has worked at St Paul's for 14 years and is one of the school's 10 science teachers.

Last year he received an honours award for services to the teaching of chemistry presented by the Independent Schools of New Zealand, one of only five teachers to be so honoured.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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