Not all scientists wear lab coats.

That's the message Whanganui Girls' College teacher Blanche Cloete was trying to promote by inviting seven women in science to the Jones St school.

Year 9 students watched from their seats in the school hall as the women made presentations about how science factors into their chosen professions.

"We've got women from different professions that don't necessarily fit into the scientist category, but use science every day in life," Cloete said.


"I got them in to talk to the girls and to show them that science is accessible to everyone. It doesn't necessarily mean that you need a labcoat to be a scientist."

The guests were policy planner Victoria Edmonds, dietician Emma Carran, clinical services manager Rehi Karena, pharmacist Megan Geertson, builder Micaela Payne, geologist Gretchen Williams and MetService forecaster Melanie Graham.

It was a much larger panel in 2019 than it was at the inaugural Women in Science talk last year.

"Motivation has grown immensely from last year. At lower level schooling the emphasis isn't on science so they haven't had a lot of it when they enter secondary school," Cloete said.

"Coming in they think science is only for the smart girls and we have to try and change their thought processes."

The talk was aimed at year 9 and 10 students who have adopted a "place-based" curriculum since last year, not long after Cloete joined the staff.

This term, students have been focusing on "me" as a theme, looking at who they are as a part of society and their places within the family.

They will be looking to broaden their perspectives of Whanganui with trips to local marae and key locations such as Bushy Park.


"As science teachers we need to not just teach the content, but to make them responsible citizens when they leave school and have them thinking in scientific ways," Cloete said.

"We're trying to make them reflective individuals and informed members of society when they leave school."

Results have improved in the school since the new curriculum was initiated, especially in the achievement of Māori students.

Cloete said science was in the process of picking up school-wide.

"Girls overall have a bit more motivation than boys in science, we never had a problem with motivation as such, it just got a bit outdated in the way we were teaching it.

"What we're achieving now is quite satisfying and the girls are all learning from it. It makes all the hard work worth it."