Water, fire, smoke and gravity, mixed with a bit of te reo, were all part of a dazzling bilingual science roadshow enjoyed by Whanganui school children.

The Nanogirl Labs science show was presented at Majestic Square today to about 300 children, teachers and general onlookers.

The show was performed by influential nanotechnologist Dr Michelle Dickinson and te reo speaker and Te Karere reporter, Krystal-Lee Brown.

Dickinson started by putting her hand into a liquid, then setting the liquid on fire and Brown jumping on stage to put the fire out, all the while speaking te reo.


The children sitting on the ground in front of the stage were clearly amused by the comedic style Brown and Dickinson applied as the pair agreed to teach the other science and te reo.

Dr Michelle Dickinson and Krystal-Lee Brown with a display of science and te reo.
Dr Michelle Dickinson and Krystal-Lee Brown with a display of science and te reo.

The pair used a combination of props and volunteers to explain and display a number of scientific theories. Brown would introduce a Māori legend to relate to the science being explained.

The legends talked about included Hine Ahu-One (the first woman made from clay), Tangaroa (god of the ocean), Tāwhirimātea (god of the weather), Ruaumoko (god of earthquakes and volcanoes) and Ranginui.

They blew fire through a tube using cornflour, had a volunteer swing a glass of water around and over his head and they blew smoke out of a barrel.

An adult volunteer was also flown around on a seat using an air blower and a wooden surface with a shower curtain attached to it.

The fast-paced show changed subjects quickly and kept the children engaged. Afterwards a breathless Dickinson was thrilled with the turnout.

"It was so great, so many people here in Majestic Square and so many people turning up for science, which is the best thing," she said.

"We have always learned from our ancestors and we have always learned through storytelling and so it's really important for us to learn different things through storytelling.

"We are telling the stories of Māori myths and legends today because a lot of the kids already know these stories but we're telling through physical science so they can learn about the science as well."

Dickinson was learning te reo and was also picking things up during the shows.

"I am totally learning as I'm going - I've been studying for about a year. But Krystal-Lee Brown is incredible and she helped script write this whole thing for us so we could actually bring this to two different audiences and, hopefully, help everybody to learn from each other."