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What's on at the 2016 Science Expo

Unless otherwise stated, all activities take place at the St David Lecture Theatre Complex:

  • 10am–4pm Saturday, 9 July 2016
  • 9am–12pm Sunday, 10 July 2016

All welcome, entry is free.


Anatomy @ the University Expo

Come along to our interactive display and discover just how fascinating anatomy is! Witness dissections of a deer heart and lamb's brain, paint your "insides" onto a t-shirt, and see how your bones, muscles, and organs all fit together.

  • Heart dissections: Saturday 11am / Sunday 10am
  • Brain dissections: Saturday 2pm / Sunday 11am

W.D. Trotter Anatomy Museum: Guided tours

Have you ever seen the smallest bone in the human body? A tour around the W.D. Trotter Anatomy Museum brings to life the wonders of the human body. Bookings are essential (maximum 40 participants per tour). Please: no food or drink, or cameras or other visual recording devices, are permitted in the museum.

  • Saturday 10.30am–12pm
  • Saturday 1pm–2.30pm
  • Sunday 10.30am–12pm
  • Sunday 1pm–2:30pm

To book a place on one of the above tours please contact the Museum Curator:

Tel 64 3 479 7361

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Solving the molecular mysteries of our cells

The Māori name of the Department of Biochemistry, Te Tari Matū Koiora, which translates to The Quintessence of Life, highlights how biochemistry explains concepts in the biological sciences at a deep level.

Come along and explore some of the hands-on child-friendly techniques that are used by biochemists to investigate the molecular details of life.

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Brain Health Research Centre

Inflatable brain walk-through

At over 3 metres tall, the Brain Health Research Centre's MEGA Brain is quite a sight. Walk through and increase your awareness of the central nervous system's most critical organ. You will leave understanding more of why things can go so wrong in the brain.

A team of neuroscientists will be on site to answer questions.Check this out and also try our mind control ball game.

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Computer Science

3D printing

A 3D printer makes things by 'printing' layers of plastic to build anything we can design. Come and see this happening. We can print visitors' designs too.

Cooperative virtual sculpture

Learn to create sculpture in a virtual world. You can work together on the same piece from different computers.

Seeing yourselfie

How well you know your own face? Come and see your face made from photos of other visitors. How soon can you recognise yourself?

Games from students

As part of their studies in Computer Science, our students can write their own computer games. Can Frankenstein's monster escape the angry mob? Can you infiltrate the evil megacorporation? Come along and give them a go!

Control a drone with your mind

Wearing a headband you can control a drone to take off and land. This is not science fiction, but real. Come to have a try to show your mind power.

Embodied Earth III

The Earth is continuously being struck by lightning. What does that feel like? Come along and experience virtual lightning, driven by the electromagnetic activity in the Earth's atmosphere.

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Making a good impression: From fossils to false teeth

Why are animal teeth the shapes they are? Can you identify animal teeth from their shapes? How does their shape relate to what they eat? Why do dentists take dental impressions?

In this hands-on activity you will be able to take an impression of an animal tooth, just like a dentist does, and make a plaster copy of the tooth. Find out why teeth are the shapes they are and get to take your model tooth home.

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Food Science

Packing in the proteins

Food Science presents 39 facts about meats, pulses and food quality perceptions. At Food Science, we want to share with you why we love the science of food! Come along and discover how proteins are packed into familiar foods like beef, cheese and pulses like beans and peas, and less familiar foods like soymilk, tofu and tempeh. Get to know why meat can be tough or tender, and why pulses are perfect partners in many food dishes. 2016 is the International Year of the Pulse after all.

We’ve got fun activities for the children and we'll also talk about some of the research we do, ranging from ways to reduce food waste at home, to how to process food more efficiently to increase process yields and enhance nutritional value.

We’re sure you’ll enjoy a taste of our science when you visit us at the Food Science booth at this year's International Science Festival; we look forward to seeing you there.

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Genetics Jedi!

If the skills of a geneticist were strong in you, how would you use your powers? Prevent disease? Save animals from extinction? Feed the malnourished? Before this, understand life you must!

DNA. You must understand DNA. Learn how to extract it, learn how to analyse it. Only then, a geneticist will you be!

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Human Nutrition

Feeding our minds

Sugar and fat have received a lot of recent media attention in relation to obesity and heart disease.  Those who visit Human Nutrition will have the opportunity to guess the fat and sugar contents of some commonly-consumed foods and drinks.

For those who are interested we will have an analyser which will calculate their percent body fat.  People will also be able to calculate their body mass index (BMI) and compare this to some of the All Blacks.

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Information Science

Immersive virtual reality photo booth

Put on a head-mounted display, see yourself in a virtual mirror, and take a photo of yourself with real or virtual props. The latest in science and technology is used to make this immersive experience happen.

Experience 4-dimensionality: Virtual reality hypercube

True four-dimensionality exists, and we are not talking about "3D + time" here, but it is hard for us to think of a cube where four axes are perpendicular to each other, isn't it? Rotate a 4D hypercube around its faces with your bare hands and watch the hypercube in 3D space with a virtual reality head-mounted display.

Look inside! - Virtual slicing through three-dimensional data

What does a brain look like? How does an arm look like inside? Before you start cutting yourself to find out, we give you the tool to do this virtually: use our tablet computer system to slice through volumetric datasets and learn about anatomy.

Look around! - Being inside a virtual environment

Immerse yourself in a virtual environment by simply looking around with a smartphone in front of your eyes. You might be surprised how rather simple technology can make you feel being part of a virtual reality.

Augmented reality sandbox

A joint project with Surveying, Computer Science, and others.

Use your hands or a shovel to play with sand to make virtual mountains, valleys, and lakes. See how a landscape is changing to the input of your hands. An interactive experience for the whole family.

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Marine Science

A changing ocean

Learn more about the ocean and the unique life that lives above and below the surface. Find out how scientists are trying to understand more about human impacts on this environment. Join the team at Lab-in-a-Box on Saturday at 12 noon, for a closer look at the marine food chain, from plankton to top predators, when we will dissect a shark.

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Materials Science and Technology

Be curious about materials

Materials of today are used to create everything; from the simple to the complex, the nano to the giga, from life-saving to life-enhancing. Come and explore the material world with us.

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Maths and Stats

From Einstein to epidemics

How do you detect gravitational waves? How do light waves travel in curved spacetime? How can we predict the next wave of an infectious disease? What do earthquakes and epidemics have in common? Explore how mathematics and statistics are used everyday … and see if you can also win some candy!

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Microbiology and Immunology

You’re more bacterial than human!

In the human body, bacterial cells can outnumber human cells by as much as ten to one. Your body contains over a kilogram of bacteria, and we need them for our survival as much as they need us. Our tiny companions affect our bodies a lot more than you might realise. Come and learn about our personal microscopic ecosystem, the human microbiome.

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Oral medicines

Medicines are most commonly taken by mouth. We will present some of the many different forms of medicines which are commonly taken by the public. We will explain the science behind the medication and its formulation and relate this to its delivery in the body.

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Seeing is believing

Hands-on activities and demonstrations for you to investigate light. Talk to physicists about how we use light in research and why is it important in technology. See quantum effects in action.

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The physiology of sensation, perception, and reaction

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between sensation and perception? Or why our reactions to stimuli around us change depending upon whether we are distracted or not? The Department of Physiology will host a booth at the International Science Festival that will allow you test how good your senses are, and to explore how your reactions can change depending on where your attention is focused.

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Movement and the brain

Can you recognise left from right? How quick are your reaction times? Come and learn about mirror therapy and how it can be used to reduce pain and improve movement.

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Everyday psychology

How can optical illusions make you heavier? Can personality tests really reveal something true about ourselves? What sorts of things around us do we miss when our attention is focussed somewhere else? Come and see us to find out more about everyday psychology!

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