Student Success Stories
Student Profile – Kaitlin Keenan
Year 13 student, Kaitlin Keenan and her biology classmates, were given the opportunity to attend a lecture on photosynthesis given by respected scientist, Rainier Hoffman, hosted by Rotary in Greymouth in April this year.
Kaitlin says, “The timing was really good as we were currently learning about photosynthesis at school. It was very interesting to get to understand some of the finer workings of the photosynthesis process and to see how it interrelates with the fields of chemistry and physics too.”
As part of the lecture, Kaitlin and her classmates were also able to learn about carbon dating and climate change from a worldly perspective but also looking at potential West Coast impacts.
According to Kaitlin, having access to experiences like this is just one of the great things about being a Westland High School student.
“The teachers at Westland High School are our greatest assets. The science teachers here are excellent. They really care and want to help you succeed and reach your goals – no matter how high they are. The learning here is both practical and theory based which is great as it caters to most learning styles. I’ve had access to a lot of amazing opportunities as a student.”
Student story – Maisie Hopkins
Maisie Hopkins is a Year 13 Westland High School student that this May was given the opportunity to attend the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand annual conference in Christchurch. Maisie was one of only 10 students nationwide that got to attend after fellow Westland High School student, Kaitlin Keenan, who was initially selected was unable to attend.
“It was a really amazing opportunity,” says Maisie. “I had always been interested in astronomy but never really had the opportunity to further that interest until this. It was fascinating to be at the conference and discover how many diverse branches of study there are within astronomy. Some scientists will spend years researching just a single star!”
Among the highlights of the experience for Maisie were realising New Zealand’s contributions to the field of astronomy and meeting the other like-minded students. She also had the opportunity to personally meet and talk with Dr Katie Mack from North Carolina State University who is a specialist in the field of Dark Matter.
The experience has helped Maisie firm up her plans for next year, “I was already planning on studying Environmental Science at the University of Canterbury next year, but I’m considering adding some astronomy papers as part of my course load. There’s still so much we don’t know about the cosmos; it’s quite literally an ‘ever-expanding’ field of science and that’s what really interests me.”
Student Profile – Dominic da Via
Dominic da Via is a Year 13 student at Westland High School who competed in a physics debate in Greymouth this year. Dominic was one of a group of nearly 10 Westland High School students that took part debating the topic of “Should the world use nuclear power as a viable energy source?” in different teams. Also in attendance at the event were representatives of other West Coast schools.
Dominic says, “Getting to take part in the event was a really fun experience. Me and my team argued in favour of the topic and we had a lot of fun interacting with contestants who represented different points of view.”
Dominic is intending to go to university next year and study science-related subjects further.
“I’ve been lucky to have some good science teachers at Westland High School that are really good at explaining the topics. I’m looking forward to studying science at University and seeing where this could lead in the future.”