Stuff - Shalini's Science Box experiments lift lid on kid's curiosity

Picture Credit: Mark Taylor/Stuff

As a young girl, Shalini Guleria would look at milk heating on the stove and wonder why it took longer to boil than water.

Her curious nature caused her to ask questions about the world around her and eventually led her to study science at Waikato University. An inquiring mind is a trait she's hoping to kindle in children.

The 24-year-old recently set up Science Box, a collection of science experiments she takes to schools.

"All the experiments that I have in my box are basically things I've found at home. I use them to set challenges for the children and help them understand the science behind it," she said.

In one challenge, students are asked to clean a tarnished 10 cent coin using only a lemon. Students discover the citric acid in the lemon can remove the tarnish, whereas water alone can't.

After completing the challenges, students present their findings to their peers.

"In science, you need to be able to present ideas. Anyone can be a scientist, you just need to be curious about things around you. It's curiosity which makes you wonder why something happens rather than just accept the fact that it does."

Guleria's two-hour science sessions are free to any schools who want to host her. The sessions are aimed at children aged five to 10.

Eventually Guleria hopes to secure funding and expand her Science Box initiative by having other university students create science boxes and visit schools.

To date, she's visited two schools - Te Totara Primary School and St Peter Chanel Catholic School.

Guleria is currently studying toward a masters degree, focusing on tissue engineering for breast cancer research.

Her studies involve using commercially available cancer cells to create three dimensional models of breast cancer tumours. It's hoped her studies could lead to more effective treatments for women with breast cancer.

Prior to her masters study, Guleria tutored high school students in science.

"I seem to be able to connect to kids and the feedback from teachers has been really positive. I had one child who said he didn't like science but at the end he came and pulled on my white lab coat and said when he grows up he wants to be a scientist like me. That brought tears to my eyes."

Making a difference - Eureka Alumni

Shalini Guleria first entered the Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka! Awards in 2014 and then reprised her participation in 2015 and 2016.

Shalini is one of several alumni who epitomise what the Eureka! Trust is doing to identify and then support young science leaders.

She demonstrates the value of science in the community and also the need to communicate that value to a wider public.

Recently she produced a video which explains who she is and what it is that motivates her. We salute Shalini for her scientific endeavour and her commitment to spreading the message.

Here’s Shalini’s VIDEO about making a difference to the treatment of cancer

2018 Video Awards

Entries more than doubled for this year’s Eureka! Video Awards from 4 last year to 15 this year.

Papatoetoe High School students Imran Hamid, Siua Tui and Khalil Telfer were one group of 13 group entries from their year 9 class who took on the Eureka! Video competition as a class project. Their video Vortex Turbine suggested this new technology was a powerful solution for small scale power generation for the agriculture and rural sector. The judges awarded them the prize for the Year 9 & 10 category.

Three Year 7&8 students (Ellie Pillar, Tyler Rawcliffe and Jonty Porter ) from St Andrews School Timaru won their age group prize with a great little video about the school’s project to help the critically endangered mudfish Kowaro in Canterbury. .

Year 13 Kings College students Roy Luo, Dimitris Potusa and Angela Cheng continued the focus on the application of scientific research for environmental benefit with their winning entry Saving our Water: Aquatic Microbiotics Solving Macro Problems

The winning videos can be seen at this link

All the entries can be seen here

The Future of Women in STEM - Sophie Mance

Published in the New Zealand Science Teacher, Issue 137 - Sophie was a finalist in this year’s Sir Paul clllghan Eureka!Awards


This year marks the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand; a major step forward to achieving gender equality. However, 125 years on, how close are STEM reliant industries to achieving gender equality? Since 1903, there have been a mere 21 female Nobel laureates in science, a shocking comparison to the 629 male laureates. Even today, New Zealand’s STEM industry is alarmingly male dominated with no female CEOs of any of our Crown Research Institutes.

My name is Sophie Mance, I'm a year 12 student at Wellington High School. I'm a keen science student taking physics, biology and chemistry, which I hope will lead to a career in molecular biology, genetics or engineering.

READ the full article

What Logan Did - Alumnus stars on TV

As a Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka! Awards contestant in 2016 and 2017, Logan Williams, showed himself to be passionate and tireless in pursuit of his promotion of his innovations and entrepreurial projects.

Logan has continued to be a very active member of the Eureka! Alumni group.

At present he is screening on TVOne’s On Demand platform with a short documentary video about his didymo project.

Logan is a great example of the sort of young science leader the Eureka! Programme seeks to identify and support.

CLICK here to watch his video

Agriculture Dilemma Report identifies some future pathways

The hugely successful Sir Paul Callaghan Eureka! Young Science Leaders Forum has produced a raft of ideas and possible solutions to challenges facing modern agriculture in New Zealand.

The Forum was hosted at Government House by the Governor General, Her Excellency the Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy and brought together secondary school and tertiary students plus teachers and and a number of STEM specialists.

The Report was drafted by Science Communicator, Veronika Meduna and will be circulated to stakeholders and interested agencies to assist future policy development.

Thje Report notes that “agriculture is not currently in balance, and therefore its future is a major challenge. There was a sense that the forces acting on farmers are largely economic, and that the way agriculture is practiced currently is dominated by profitability and productivity, while environmental and social factors don’t yet carry equivalent weight.

“However, participants also agreed that primary production is part of New Zealand’s cultural identity and that it should remain so. Most specific suggestions were about how to make a shift towards more sustainable agriculture – or other uses of land and marine resources – for the people who draw their livelihood from it as well as all of us, as we depend on the primary production sector in one way or another.

“With primary production (including fisheries) making a significant contribution to GDP, participants saw the main challenge in increasing production while at the same time decreasing environmental impacts.”

CLICK here to download and read the Report