She's Nano Girl and she took to the stage at Whanganui Intermediate last week in front of 309 Year 8 students from nine local schools.
Dr Kate Sparks, a marine biologist, works for Nanogirl Labs in Auckland, a company set up to bring science to homes and schools throughout the country. As an educator, it is Kate's mission to inspire students to look at science as an option for study and a possible future career.
Last Friday, in an hour-long presentation sponsored by Rotary Club of Wanganui North, Dr Sparks gave a dramatic and inspired look at how science is fun, spectacular and interesting.
She began by telling the students she had no interest in becoming a scientist: she wanted to be a super hero! Realising that may not be a possibility; she found ways that science could endow her with superpowers.
Using a vast array of props and with help from eager students, she quickly developed a rapport with her young audience and made science theatrical and exciting with tricks and experiments.
Making fire, defying gravity, telekinesis, levitation and more gave Dr Sparks the opportunity to demonstrate many scientific ideas, showing students the practical application of science for fun.
"Rotary Club of Wanganui North very kindly invited us to come to Whanganui," says Kate, "They made it possible, paid for everything and organised for all the schools to get together and Whanganui Intermediate very kindly said they had a hall big enough to host everyone in."
Kate is a full-time Nano Girl, based in Auckland.
"In a normal year I would be able to visit school children in Auckland pretty much every week. Unfortunately this is not a normal year, which means there have been long periods of time when I could not visit anyone. But now I am able to come into schools, to share science with students, because I think it is a really important thing for us to do."
Last week Kate was in Wellington for three days, Palmerston North on Thursday and Whanganui for the Friday. Her job is to create science content.
"My job could be anything from designing educational resources to presenting science shows for kids to trying to get parents and teachers interested in science and doing professional development with teachers. At Nano Girl Labs we are all about trying to get more people engaged with science because we think it's really important, it's fun and we think everyone in New Zealand deserves a great relationship with science.
"The great thing about kids is that they are naturally curious, they always want to ask questions and want to ask why. That means kids are natural scientists."
Dr Kate Sparks has a PhD in Marine Science from the University of Otago.
Malcolm Jansen of Rotary Club of Wanganui North says he sent out invitations to all schools in the area with Year 8 students. Nine responded, one sent and apology and the rest didn't bother to reply.
Schools that attended were Fordell, Kaitoke, Kakatahi, Okoia, Upokongaro, Whangaehu, St George's, Ngamatapouri and Whanganui Intermediate.