"How many of you would like to have superpowers?" asked Nanogirl in the Dannevirke South School Hall on August 12. Already she had the audience of school children hooked on science.
Dr Kate Sparks, a marine biologist by training, alias Nanogirl, visited the Tararua on Thursday, firstly in the morning at the Pongaroa Community Hall where she educated and entertained children from Pongaroa Primary and Makuri schools, and then at Dannevirke South School in the afternoon.
Nanogirl is a private company promoting the joys of science to children and was created by nanotechnologist and engineer Dr Michelle Dickinson.
Nanogirl is a superhero with a difference. Her powers don't come from magic or alien parents—instead she builds them through her STEM Superpowers: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills.
At Dannevirke South, Nanogirl began with fire - trying to show how it could be germinated from dishwashing soap suds on her hand without injury. The result was spectacular and the audience was "all ears"!
When she went on to pierce a balloon with a skewer without popping it, move a cup through telekinesis (the mind – but actually an air current), create smoke rings which sailed through the hall, levitate table tennis and beach balls and make toilet paper fly like a plane, the children were sorry the act had to come to an end.
Throughout the sessions, Nanogirl reinforced the scientific method – question, hypothesise, test, conclude result – and introduced the scientific principles that made her "superpowers" possible, involving students on stage as her assistants.
In South School's case, she ran an hour-long professional development session with teachers after the demonstration.
South School, which had initiated the visit, was delighted with Nanogirls' visit and Pongaroa had a great day too. See next week for its story.