The power of science was demonstrated with an extra bang in Dannevirke last Thursday, when a massive thunderstorm, with lightning and a torrential downpour, began on cue following Nanogirl's display of thunder in the Sports Centre.

Bringing the excitement of science to Dannevirke and Pahiatua school students, Nanogirl, aka Dr Michelle Dickinson, and bilingual entertainer Krystal Lee Brown, blended Māori myths with explosive science experiments in their show Matatoa.

Dickinson, an academic, doctor, nanotechnologist, author and the recipient of a NZ Order of Merit held the students and fire in the palm of her hand, leaving Josh Withey of Huia Range School shaking his head in disbelief and wonder.

"Did she actually blow?" he asked as Ruahine School student Olivia Augustine blew cornflour through a tube resulting in a ball of flame.

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Dickinson and husband Joe Davis, chief executive and co-founder of Nanogirl Labs, said the shows were about bringing science to everyone.

"Four out of five young New Zealanders enter secondary education with inadequate science education to enable them to thrive at high school," Davis said.

Water and dry ice explode into a cloud in front of excited children at Nanogirl's Dannevirke Matatoa show. Photo / Christine McKay
Water and dry ice explode into a cloud in front of excited children at Nanogirl's Dannevirke Matatoa show. Photo / Christine McKay

"We do a lot of work in schools and Matatoa is a bilingual show because so much knowledge and actually a huge amount of science is passed down through purakau, Māori myths and legends. This has been an exciting project."

Dickinson believes science is more than just a school subject and wants to encourage more people into the industry.

"Scientists and engineers are the problem solvers of our world," she said.

And Weber School principal, Janine Satchwell, echoed the sentiments of everyone in the Sports Centre.

"Awesome and brilliant."