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Published 30 May 2018

In for a FEAST: seven students selected for Australian science experience

Seven students have been selected by Royal Society Te Apārangi to attend the Future Experiences in Agriculture, Science and Technology (FEAST) in July.

FEAST will take place at the University of Queensland in Brisbane at the start of July and is a five-day residential programme designed to inspire and inform high school students about the range of exciting and rewarding science careers in the agriculture, animal, plant and food sectors.

The students will explore science disciplines through hands-on activities and workshops. They will also attend industry-run sessions, reinforcing to the students that there are many exciting career opportunities available in science.

Andrew Cleland, Chief Executive at Royal Society Te Apārangi, says: “Not only is this a great opportunity for talented young New Zealanders to interact with experts at the top of their fields in science but it is also an occasion for students to meet other like-minded students from Australia and to share their passion for science”.

The students selected are:   

Megan Joy-Lai, Trident High School, Whakatane

Megan intends to study a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Massey University when she finishes school. She says: “my passion for biology and animals has driven me to pursue the career of veterinary science because I would like to use this degree and my skills to aid animal welfare and conservation work around the world, which will include educating people about the importance of the environment that surrounds them,” Megan said.

Heidi Kristono, Wellington East Girls' College 

Heidi Kristono is involved in a number of activities at school including Innovative Young Minds and is co-founder and co-leader of the Wellington East Girls’ STEM Club and an environmental form leader. Heidi intends to study biological sciences at university. She says: “I have a steadfast passion for science. I have been watching documentaries by David Attenborough and other science programmes such as ‘Inside the Human Body’ since I was five years old. At the age of 14, I started to collect science equipment such as a small microscope, a light prism and a Newton’s cradle. Science stimulates me because I am naturally curious, and it answers the many questions I have”.

Mason Lowe, Napier Boys’ High School

Mason is very involved with school activities and is captain of the debating team and a mathematics and science tutor.  He likes sport and is the captain of the first XI hockey team. He has been a volunteer for the SPCA for the last two years as an animal handler and carer. “I have been interested in the sciences since my introduction to them at the beginning of high school. This interest has been influenced by my brother, who is a third-year vet student – often he explains the biological processes in a variety of different animals. I have garnered a strong interest in the biological aspects of the science fields as it helps me understand concepts on a real-world level. In particular equine and wildlife animals are those that I am most curious about,” Mason said.

Carlos Mendonca, Onslow College, Wellington 

Carlos really enjoys science at school but just studying science at school isn’t quite enough for Carlos. He has been a participant for a number of years in the Wellington regional science and technology fair, a participant in regional and international physics tournaments and is studying toward the International Biology Olympiad. He also belongs to the Onslow College enviro-group. He says: “my exposure to both the physical and biological sciences has been amazing and surreal; however I am left in somewhat of a dilemma whether to go on and study physics or biology at university. Both seem interesting and fulfilling to me but at the moment I am torn. I think an opportunity like FEAST will help me decide”.

Mortaza Sahar, Pakuranga College, Auckland 

Mortaza Sahar, or Taza as he likes to be called, is Head Boy at Pakuranga College. He is not sure what he wants to study at a tertiary level but it will likely involve either artificial intelligence or neuroscience. He is very involved in school activities and is the chair of the accelerated learning committee and a peer support leader and is captain of the first X1 hockey team.  Taza is heavily involved in community activities, which include being the public relations officer for the ‘Hazard Youth Afghan Association’ and is a team member of the ‘Empower Refugee Mentoring Programme’. “My parents have instilled in me that education is one of the most important things in life. I never really believed this until I reached my teenage years. I realised that in order to achieve anything in life, I would need to embrace learning and education. I have always been an extremely hard worker because I firmly believe that if you put the work in to understand and learning something, it can be achieved, however big or small it may be,” Taza said.

Shalin Shah, Mount Albert Grammar, Auckland

Shalin Shah intends to study at the University of Auckland and complete a Bachelor of Engineering. “I love learning new things. My interest in STEM has also made me capable of being the leader of school robotics (a group of 40+ students ranging from years 9-13). My role as the captain is to manage, mentor and tutor students about international robotics competitions, building systems and coding. Robotics has helped me gain an array of skills outside of the STEM area also,” he says.

Fateh Singh, Manurewa High School, Auckland

Fateh Singh intends to study a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Auckland next year and is striving to gain excellence for NCEA Level 3. He has already gained excellence at Level 1 and Level 2. “Being brought up in a Sikh family, I have always been a disciplined and a hard-working individual. Alongside being academically focused, I enjoy being involved in extra-curricular activities to further develop my skills and become an all-rounder. I take huge pride in my achievements and I am also a ‘Save the Children Youth Ambassador’ a peer mentor and managing a start-up business. These roles will allow me to grow my leadership qualities and to become a Youth Leader in my community,” Fateh said.

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi