About Us

The Science Badge Story

In 1984, a CSTA (Canterbury Science Teachers Association) member returned to Christchurch from a visit to the Singapore Science Centre, enthused with an award scheme for science students. In this scheme, students completed hands-on science activities on a topic they had selected and were then awarded a certificate and an attractive metal badge. Graeme Tinkler was delegated to investigate setting up the scheme locally. A meeting was held at Mairehau High School involving Graeme, Nick Atkins and George Murray and the inaugural Science Badge Committee was established. The metal badges were produced locally and the scheme was established in Christchurch schools.

As interest grew, the scheme was offered to the New Zealand Science Teachers Association but it failed to thrive nationally and was returned to the original committee of three enthusiasts in Christchurch.

1990, the team of three became four with the addition of Dr Sue Jarvis, a teacher at Lincoln HS who was a strong promoter of the scheme in her school, who asked Graeme at a Science Teachers meeting if there could be a Psychology badge as one of her students wanted to do one. Sue was invited to join the committee and Paul, a year 10 student, went on to write a draft psychology badge, which when checked by a psychologist was added to the list of badges. He continued to have an interest in Science Badges and prompted us to start our own web site, with his help.

The number of badges also started to multiply rapidly and there was recognition that the scheme was successfully targeting the needs of Year 7 – 10 students but not meeting the needs of more junior students. To cater for this demand, the Science Activity Challenges were established for Years 3 – 4 students and the Science Explorer (and Advanced Science Explorer) were established for Years 5 – 6 students.

By 1993, the award scheme had spread throughout New Zealand schools and its structure was formalised by the establishment of the Science Awards Trust in May1993. The organising committee continued with the original four members until 2010 when the committee was expanded to include Annie Bowker, Deborah Scott and Karen Radovonich. Angela Devonport, who from 1984 had been responsible for the imaginative design work for the different awards and the digitizing of the whole awards scheme, formally joined the committee in 2018. Pauline Jarvis, our treasurer, has ensured that the Trust meets the requirements of the Charities Commission.

The Science Awards Trust continues to thrive with strong support from New Zealand primary, intermediate and secondary schools and also from home-schooled students. To ensure that the activities remain valid and relevant, an extensive refreshment of the activities in each scheme is undertaken each year.

In 2021 we were contacted by Sarah Ferguson who had completed the astronomy science badge in 1992 and the geology one either in 1992 or 1993. She told us that both badges were a lot of fun, and she remembers being delighted by the badge itself, too. More importantly, the activities required her initiative, and she went to the library, learning where the astronomy and space books were in the Dewey decimal catalogue. She learnt that there were female astronauts, and one librarian mentioned that New Zealand had a famous female astronomer — Beatrice Tinsley. So, the work for the science badge began a path of learning about others who had gone before her from NZ into the world of science. Skipping forward many years, she studied physics at the University of Auckland, earning a BSc there, and then she went on to the US and completed a PhD in computational optics in 2009.

 

Science badges and the other activities can stimulate a life-changing interest in Science.