Science education.

Follow the links below to find out more about our science programmes:

Cawthron Scitec Expo (Science Fair) 

The Scitec Expo continues a tradition of science fairs in Nelson that goes back more than 30 years. Cawthron Institute has been heavily involved for much of that time – originally as a sponsor and now as manager of the event. The Expo brings together scientists, students, teachers, local and national businesses – all working together to support our region’s young enquiring minds.

Are you the next Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton? Explore the wonderful world of science at the Cawthron Scitec Expo; no idea is too crazy, no theory too preposterous. This year the Expo is for secondary schools and is being held on 25th -26th September 2018. More information is here or you can contact

Mussel Biology workshops 
(Year 13 Biology students only)

The Year 13 Mussel Biology workshops were introduced by Otago University and Cawthron in 2011. They are run annually with the collaboration of Spat NZ and NMIT.

During the workshops, students fulfil requirements of the NCEA Level 3 Biology 3.1 Curriculum Assessment, which includes a small animal investigation. Students are required to alter something in the mussels' environment and measure the mussels' response to the change.

The workshops consist of:

  • Induction sessions (1-2hr) conducted at the schools, provided by either Otago University or Cawthron’s Community Educator.
  • 2 day workshop at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park, where students carry out their investigation at the NMIT student laboratory, assisted by both educators and class teacher.
  • Guided tour of Spat NZ facilities.
  • Post workshop report, written by the students and marked by their teachers.

The workshops allow students to:

  • Get fully immersed in ‘real science’.
  • Work in a purpose-built lab, with equipment not available in a school environment.
  • Meet Cawthron scientists and discuss with them their research and career paths.
  • See how Cawthron science has allowed for huge industry advancements.

Click on Cawthron Institute to view more Cawthron videos on Vimeo.

Open Day

Every year Cawthron opens its doors to the public and provides presentations, tours of the laboratory and research facilities, and displays for the public. Scientists representing Cawthron's wide range of research disciplines share their knowledge and explain their work.

"Right now it's an exciting time at Cawthron and we're looking forward to sharing our research with the community," Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Professor Charles Eason, says. "These open days are a fantastic way to connect with our community and allow people to see some of the world-leading science happening in their own backyard."

Watch the 2015 Open Day highlights


Cawthron Memorial Lecture

The Thomas Cawthron Memorial Lecture is a free annual community event held by the Cawthron for the people of Nelson to commemorate the legacy of Thomas Cawthron and to share science with the public.

Over the years many distinguished scientists and scholars have shared their knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Past speakers include Sir Edmund Hilary, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Professor Lord Robert Winston and Rt. Hon. Helen Clark.

This Year’s Lecture

This year our speaker is Professor Gideon Henderson, from the Earth Sciences Department of Oxford University. His work centres around climate studies and the carbon cycle. Professor Henderson has recently been appointed Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, so we are very lucky to have him.  

Professor Henderson will talk about his research into ways to mitigate climate change and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. To view the full abstract of his lecture click here.

The Cawthron Memorial Lecture 2019 will take place on Tuesday 17th September, tickets will be available from the 9th August

For more information contact

Click here to view or download past memorial lectures.

Professor Gideon Henderson