UNSW was one of several international partners privileged to be invited to attend the Expo, hosted by the Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown, who hopes the Expo “will encourage more kids to take up STEM subjects for university study”.

The Expo was extremely well attended and resourced, with UNSW joining Otago MuseumNIWAUniversity of AucklandUniversity of Waikato and Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research)from New Zealand; and Brigham Young University from Hawaii, as the international invitees for the unique outreach opportunity. Local partners also shared their love of science and knowledge for the Expo with highlights by Korero O’te Orau (who had a display of Crown of Thorns Starfish!), Gallery Tavioni, the Cook Islands Voyaging SocietyTe Ipukarea SocietyCook Islands Meteorological ServiceEmergency Management Cook Islands and Muri Environment Care.

Running the booth for the UNSW Global Water Institute were A/Prof Fiona Johnson from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Water Research CentreA/Prof Kristen Splinter and Anna Blacka from the School’s Water Research Laboratory.

The three-day Expo was overflowing with 1,500 school children ranging from Pre-School through to Senior High Schoolers, followed by an afternoon dedicated to community outreach, with many keen young scientists returning alongside their parents. 

The UNSW booth was kept particularly busy throughout the entire Expo – where we focussed on a hands-on and fun experience for the kids – allowing them to get busy building rafts, water filters and capillary action with rainbow food colouring - our raft building exercise was a particular highlight, with many kids returning several times to outlast and outdo one another floating Seabee armour units.

Raft building UNSW