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Lord Robert Winston visits Gravida

March 2014

Gravida patron Lord Robert Winston visited Auckland in early March to participate in a number of events across the country.

It was a jam-packed itinerary for the professor, kicking off on Monday March 10 with a visit to the LENScience classroom at the Liggins Institute where he joined students from various Auckland-based schools as they learnt about science and the human body.

The next day, he was in Dunedin where he lunched with Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Otago University Vice-Chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne among others, before visiting Otago Boys High School where he urged students from a number of secondary schools to consider careers in science and public health. He then went on to meet with University of Otago genetics and science communication students, where he answered questions about his career and discussed views on current issues on science. In his blog, Gravida deputy director Associate Professor Peter Dearden writes about meeting Lord Winston, who he says is one of his scientific heroes.

On Wednesday, Lord Winston visited the new AUT Southern Campus in Manukau, where he took part in a roundtable discussion on life-course health.

Thursday was the big event of the week – the LENScience TALKFEST, which was presented in front of a live audience and broadcast across and the Cook Islands to more than 7,000 students. The University of Auckland Fale Pasifika, where the event was broadcast from, was filled with more than 120 Year 7 to 10 students from local schools to hear Lord Winston and Jacquie Bay discuss puberty and its related issues. As the audience was told, everyone taking part was an expert in the subject as they were either going, or had been through it!

Each session also had a student panel – the Year 7 to 10s were represented by Sven Hagedorn and Imogen Crooks from Linwood College, Christchurch, Maia Szechet, from Kadimah School, Auckland, and Jessica Croy, Botany Downs Secondary College, Auckland.

A lively discussion followed, assisted by the student panel of four, with keen interest via live-chat from the students watching remotely.

The afternoon session on reproductive technologies was attended by about 100 Year 12 and 13 students, who listened to a lively presentation by Lord Winston about his research into fertility, in-vitro fertilisation, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and the ethical and social challenges created by this technology.

Once again a student panel – comprising Leina Tucker-Masters, Hillcrest High School, Hamilton, Seini Pua, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, Auckland, Matt Bilton Westlake Boys High School, Auckland and Theo Loretz from Mt Roskill Grammar, Auckland – contributed some intriguing questions and insights for the discussion. There was plenty of activity from the live-chat as well, which ran hot with questions from students watching the event from across the country.

For anyone wishing to view the broadcasts, a link to both LENScience TALKFEST presentations is available on the LENScienceConnect TALKFEST website.

After each event, attendees lined up to be photographed with Lord Robert, and it was a wonderful occasion for all concerned to meet and hear from the renowned researcher and passionate advocate for science communication and education.

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