Every year, Auckland University hosts the Rotary National Science and Technology Forum, a two-week event that draws in students from all over Australasia. It takes place at the end of the Christmas holidays, when the students are preparing for their final year of high school. The forum is an intense but friendly mash-up of awesome science, socialising and volleyball. This year TEARAWAY Maverick EMMA DICKINS was lucky enough to be there.

20150120_093151Excitement coursed through me as I took those first few steps alongside 179 girls and guys from all over NZ and Australia. We walked through the gates of O’Rourke student hall at Auckland University. I must say I was wondering if this was the best way to spend the last few weeks of my holidays. But by the end of the first day my answer was yes - this was definitely a great way to spend my last weeks of free time. Little did I know how much I'd truly come to love the Rotary National Science and Technology forum, and just how sad I'd be at the end to leave everyone behind.

Each morning I woke up at around 6am for early morning activities – in my case the gym, but for others this meant volleyball, running, walking and even aerobics. A whiteboard on the second floor would then show us our daily schedule, which modules we were to attend and the events being held each day. The 180 soon-to-be Year 13 students were split into six groups, each a different colour. It was the same group of 30 that we attended all of our modules with throughout the two weeks.

Most importantly, it was these 30 that would work together in the traditional volleyball competition against all the other colours. Whichever colour came out on top would go on to face the advisor team in the finals. The volleyball games were definitely a laugh, with outfits and chants that took outrageous to a whole new level!

The lectures, modules and tech options throughout the period were absolutely incredible. We were exposed to a huge variety of scientific fields, from robotics and engineering to chemistry and biology. I had a go at working a little robotic car, extracting GFP from liquid, separating the DNA from fruit, making crystals, dissecting a sheep heart and lungs, firing air guns, learning about forensics, fingerprinting and so much more. The amount you learn and the memories you create are honestly indescribable. Words cannot express how much of an amazing experience it all was.

Not only did we get the opportunity to try things that many people don’t even realise exist, we got the chance to make some lifelong friends. From Starbucks coffees and shopping excursions, to beach days and night-time chats, I met some amazing people. Without a doubt, this forum was the best two weeks of my life.

With that said, I'd like to say a huge thank you to the Rotary clubs who made this possible by sponsoring students to attend the forum; without them I know that many of us wouldn't have been able to take this incredible opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I encourage anyone and everyone with an interest in science to attend this forum. It will truly change your life!

Photos by Emma Dickins


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