Making lessons relevant and suited to students' shortened attention spans are some of the reasons why young women are flocking to chemistry lessons at one school.
About 40 to 50 per cent of senior students at St Cuthbert's College take chemistry, with a large number going on to related university subjects.
Those numbers make the Auckland school a leading example at a time when the Government is trying to encourage more students, particularly girls, to stick with science.
Central to the subject's popularity is the direction of Ian Torrie, the college's head of chemistry. Mr Torrie was yesterday one of five New Zealand teachers to receive an ASG National Excellence in Teaching Award.
When he started at the school 21 years ago the science department was "tiny", but he has since presided over a huge lift in enrolments.
This year 82 out of 158 Year 12 students are taking chemistry, and of last year's Year 13 graduates, 37 per cent are studying university subjects that employ chemistry knowledge including science, medicine and engineering.
Mr Torrie credited his teaching team for the popularity of the subject.
"Teachers here go to great lengths to point out to them why chemistry is really important in their every day lives and their futures."
Mr Torrie said he tried to personalise his teaching to each student.
"The attention span of students tends to be shorter these days, they are used to multi-media, social media, used to getting their information into really short bites.
"So you tend to have to break-up your lesson into lots of smaller chunks.
"It's important to capture their imagination first of all ... a lot of people consider chemistry as a hard subject, but it's a question of how it's taught and whether you are feeling positive about it in the first place."