We have a responsibility to the scientists of the future


By Natalie Martin, 3R Group Materials Innovation Manager

This month I’d like to take a step back from the nuts-and-bolts topics we discuss and look at a very real grass roots issue which will affect this industry in the future – science literacy.

A while ago I met Jenny Dee, the Hawke’s Bay regional manager for House of Science and I’m really proud that 3R Group decided to sponsor one of their excellent science teaching kits.

House of Science was started in 2013 by former biochemist and secondary school science teacher of 15 years, Chris Duggan. The lack of science literacy she was seeing among new high school students was very concerning to her, so she decided to do something about it.
Nearly 10 years later and the organisation is active in 17 regions in the North Island as well as in Christchurch. The regional managers and their teams of volunteers create and maintain several bilingual kits designed to make science fun and engaging for primary and intermediate school-aged children.

The kits also make teaching easy, with all the lesson planning and resources included, with input from experts such as Scion. Schools can use the kits for a few weeks at a time before they are returned to be cleaned, replenished, and tidied up, ready for their next use.
Children can learn about microbiology, recycling and resource management, basic chemistry, and water analysis among other topics. Some kits have a real-world application, such as identifying different types of recyclables, while others let the children make their own simple polymers.

3R is sponsoring the “Load of Rubbish/He Putunga Para” kit, which gives children an insight into recovering recyclables and packaging choices.

As Jenny told the team when she visited 3R, getting schools interested isn’t the hurdle (she already has a waiting list), funding is. More sponsors mean more kits and more kits mean more schools can sign up.
It’s a wonderful initiative and is one which an industry that relies on good science should look at supporting. I’m sure there are other programmes doing something similar too.

While we are often focused on improving the knowledge and skills of the people already in the food and beverage industry, we shouldn’t forget about the next generation.

Natalie Martin is the materials innovation manager at 3R Group in Hawke’s Bay. She has a background in food technology and over 10 years’ experience in new product development for FMCG and still supports the industry as a consultant. At 3R, Natalie works in new product development for various waste streams, including packaging.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Hot Source, NZ Food Technology, or the parent company, Hayley Media.