School pupils in the Cook Islands enjoying a science expo run by Otago Museum this year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED 22120901
Being able to step from the sweltering sandy climate of the Cook Islands into the freezing environs of the Antarctic will be a novelty for the community of Aitutaki.
Following the success of its first science festival in
Rarotonga earlier this year, the Otago Museum science engagement team is
returning to the Cook Islands to share more science experiences — this time, on
the outer island.
The Aitutaki Science Expo will be held next week (December
12-15) in partnership with the climate change division of the Cook Islands
office of the Prime Minister.
Museum science engagement director Dr Craig Grant said it
would feature a shipping container that transforms into a laboratory, and a
mobile immersive theatre where people could experience life in the Antarctic
and learn about climate change and its impacts.
"The response from the Cook Island school pupils and
community at our expo in October was truly amazing.
"We had every school on Rarotonga come through it.
"The children enjoyed it so much that many brought
their families back to our evening community sessions."
He said the support of the United States Embassy and the New
Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade meant the museum was able to take
some of these experiences to Aitutaki so their communities could also
experience "some hands-on STEM fun".
"It’s a real privilege to be able to share all the
amazing mahi of partners like the Dodd-Walls Centre and the MacDiarmid Institute
with communities that would otherwise never get access to such science-themed
"There’s a huge amount of logistical planning that goes
into reaching these remote communities, but seeing the kids’ eyes light up with
our hydrogen demos and hearing their ‘Wooowwws!!’ when they get transported to
Antarctica in our dome, makes it all worthwhile," he said.
The museum employs the largest science outreach team in New
Zealand, delivering science communication to communities around New Zealand and