Community and Education news

Cawthron's school science workshops provide students with a real-life science experience
25 September 2015

Students experience real world science

Earlier this year, more than 200 year 13 biology students from secondary schools throughout the Nelson region spent two days at Cawthron Aquaculture Park studying the green-lipped mussel and developing their own research projects.

The annual science workshops are delivered by Cawthron Institute's Community Education team in collaboration with the University of Otago and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, to give students real-life science experience in a working science laboratory.

"Students change one variable in the environment and measure the response (if any) by the mussel," Cawthron Institute Community Educator, Cristina Armstrong, says.

"For many this is the first time they complete an experiment on their own, and get to experience the everyday challenges that scientists face."

During the workshops, which are held over a three week period, students and teachers tour the facilities, hear about education opportunities in aquaculture and learn about the current science research being led by Cawthron Institute's aquaculture team.

"As these students gain access to expertise and equipment that's not available in schools, they get the chance to work on spat (very young mussels), juveniles and adult mussels and change a variety of variables including the temperature, pH, salinity, man-made chemicals and food type and quantity in the environment. In the four years we've been running this programme, we've seen some fantastic experiments, some of which have inspired our own staff!"

The annual workshops started in 2012 and since then more than 1000 students from six local colleges have taken part. The workshops aim to provide year 13 students from the Nelson Tasman region with an opportunity to participate in real world science, and show them how exciting a career in aquaculture research can be.

Find out more:

Go to to read article and view video.

Contact Cristina Armstrong, Community Educator, Cawthron Institute.