Author: sciencernrguest

Call for papers: Polar Record special issue on education, outreach & engagement

Polar Record: special issue on polar education, outreach and communication  

Guest editors: Rhian Salmon and Rebecca Priestley

Submission deadline: 31 January 2018

Ten years ago, the International Polar Year 2007-2008 led to an upwelling of Education, Outreach and Communication (EOC) initiatives across the polar research community that have had long-lasting effect. At the 2016 SCAR conference in Kuala Lumpur, the Humanities and Social Science Expert Group identified science communication as a research priority. This special Issue of Polar Record will be dedicated to Education, Outreach, and Engagement related to polar research, and will help to draw scholarly attention to this important, but neglected, aspect of polar research. It will be published in January 2019, in conjunction with the tenth anniversary of the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (which ran from March 2017-March 2019).

Sciecne historia Rebecca Pristley interviews Andrew McMinn wearing an aviation hat in Antarctica

Rebecca Priestley interviews Andrew McMinn, from the University of Tasmania, at a field camp on the sea ice near Turtle Rock, Ross Island, in 2011

The guest co-editors of this issue, Drs Rebecca Priestley and Rhian Salmon invite submissions of Original Research Articles of 9,000-12,000 words in length. Research Notes (peer reviewed short articles up to 3,000 words) and Commentaries (focused, view-point coverage of topics relevant to this special issue topic) will also considered by the editors (but please discuss with the editors if considering this option).

Submission deadline is 31 January 2018

If you would like to discuss your ideas before submitting – and we encourage you to do so – please contact the guest co-editors Dr Rebecca Priestley ( or Dr Rhian Salmon ( directly.

Submission of Papers is through the journal’s online submission centre:

Please choose the special issue: ’10 years of Polar Education, Outreach and Communication initiatives’ from the drop down list, in the ‘special issue question’ on ScholarOne.

All papers will be subject to the journal’s usual peer-review process and submission does not guarantee acceptance. If you have difficulties with the electronic submission process, please contact one of the editors. Accepted papers will be published in FirstView within a month after acceptance with the full special issue due for publication in January 2019.



Journalist Veronika Meduna sits with miscrophone next to 5 emperor penguins

New Zealand broadcaster Veronika Meduna on the sea ice next to group of Emperor Penguins during the International Polar Year


Welcome back to Café Scientifique

After a year’s break the Wellington meeting of Café Scientifique has started with two successful events in July and August.

Jesse Bering, a Dunedin based American evolutionary psychologist, in Wellington to talk to students of CREW352: Creative Science Writing, packed out VK’s Comedy Bar in Dixon Street with his favourite research topics: sex, death and religion.


Jesse at WORD Christchurch 2015

Bering has had enormous success with his honest and humorous style. He writes a regular column, Bering in Mind, for Scientific American online, and his books include The Belief Instinct, about the psychological origins of our desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves, and PERV, which explores the range of human sexual desire and experience. Bering told students in the CREW352 that like many of us his academic interests have followed what he is naturally curious about, and he hopes talking about it is helpful to people struggling with these issues.

Bering’s Café Scientifique event followed a fantastic evening with Alom Shaha, a teacher, science communicator and author, who recently visited New Zealand to be the keynote speaker at SciCon 2016, the annual conference for secondary science teachers.  Shaha has become a teacher of teachers and points out that he does not consider himself to be a scientist, but rather an expert in pedagogy.  We took advantage of his visit to invite him to address students of SCIE311: Science Communication. “The world needs teachers,” says Shaha, “as we are the ones who make the scientists”.   Shaha disagrees with the common expression that children are born scientists. “Science is a range of methods and tools, for a particular way of looking at the world.  It takes years to practice these tools in the way that scientists do,” he said to our SCIE 311 students.



As this was Shaha’s first time in New Zealand, he was keen to understand the religious, cultural and educational landscape of our country.  His book The Young Atheist’s Handbook is part memoir, part philosophy, and part permission for others to wrestle with doubts about their faith.  “Religion is passed on from parents to children at a time when they are not able to think critically for themselves.  Sometimes young people find that it’s just easier to go along with it,” he told his Café Scientifique audience.

Shaha has a new book due to be released in 2017 about science teaching, and we hope to see him back in New Zealand next year.  In the meantime you can check out his Demo: The Movie  a half hour movie encouraging science teachers to use demonstrations to inspire their students look closely at the world.

Café Scientifique is jointly hosted by the Wellington Branch of the Royal Society and Science in Society Group at Victoria University.  Find us on Facebook to hear about our upcoming events

Dispatches from 2016

It’s July! Over half way through 2016, and it’s been a busy time.  Rebecca has launched a new book Dispatches from Continent Seven and Rhian has grown her engagement team for the Deep South National Science Challenge.


Rebecca’s new book Dispatches from Continent Seven: An Anthology of Antarctic Science was launched in March and is getting great rBookeviews.  Unlike most Antarctic anthologies, which focus on narratives written by explorers or writers, this book features accounts by scientists, including biologist George Murray Levick on the sexual habits of the Adélie Penguin, American geophysicist Robin Bell on the mountain ranges discovered beneath the Antarctic icecap, and Rhian’s own piece, Waiting for the Polar Sunrise, which she wrote based on her winter-over in Antarctica in 2002.

Rebecca talks about her book with Kim Hill on National radio and writes in more depth about her own Antarctic experiences on the Stuff news website.  You can also read an interview with Rebecca about Dispatches by Listener writer Mark Broatch. And because you wont want to share you can purchase your own copy from Awa Press.

Ice science

Dispatches featured in Ice Science held at The Embassy in March as part of New Zealand Festival Writers’ week.  While Antarctica is a “continent for science” it has also inspired many artists, writers and poets. Te Radar hosted a panel discussion of Antarcticans – including Rebecca and Rhian – about what drives people to work, and sometimes risk their lives, in this most inhospitable of environments.

Left to right Te Radar, Dr Rhian Salmon, Professor Tim Naish, Dr Rebecca Priestley


The Deep South National Science Challenge is a $24M programme with a mission to enable New Zealanders to “adapt, manage and thrive in a changing climate”. Rhian sits on the management team and leads one of five programmes – on Engagement. This is a major action research programme that will not only deliver a range of engagement activities and research outputs, but is also serving to redefine how engagement with science is conceptualised and delivered in New Zealand.

By far the most substantial work Rhian carried out in 2015 was development of an Engagement Strategy for the Deep South Challenge. This received very positive reviews from an Independent Science Panel, and Board approval in December 2015. This strategy led to $1.68M being committed to work-streams in broad and public engagement, tailored engagement, training and capacity building in engagement, and programme evaluation and is already being used as a resource by several other Science Challenges.

Rhian’s leadership of this Challenge’s engagement programme presents an exciting opportunity to set new precedents in public engagement with science (PES) in New Zealand. By creating opportunities both for funding and capacity building in public engagement, and by setting ambitious engagement objectives – for example that require co-production and evaluation – this programme is substantially bridging the gap between PES theory and practice while also delivering tangible, innovative, and measurable, initiatives that enable New Zealanders to make more informed decisions about climate change. The impact of this programme will therefore be demonstrated not only in publications, but also in the outcomes of the activities that it funds, and associated capacity-building of all involved.

In order to deliver this ambitious programme, Rhian has recently established a “Deep South Challenge Engagement Team” at Victoria University, which includes a Partnerships Director, Engagement Coordinator, and Evaluation Coordinator.


The new 300 level special topic: Antarctic Science and Culture has enjoyed its first semester as part of the SCIE course schedule and will be back in 2017. It may not be too late to enrol for Semester 2 courses in our programme.  But you better hurry!

SCIE212 Energy, Society and the Future

SCIE312 Revolutions in Science

SCIE311 Science Communication

Our courses are also available as continuing / professional education:

SCIE212 Energy Society and the Future

SCIE312 Revolutions in Science

SCIE312 Science Communication


New ‘Antarctica Online’ Course

Cliff interviews Nick Golledge, from the Antarctic Research Centre, while Rebecca hides inside her extreme cold weather gear.

Cliff interviews Nick Golledge, from the Antarctic Research Centre, while Rebecca hides inside her extreme cold weather gear.

Following Rebecca and Cliff’s successful trip to Antarctica in December 2014, the Science in Society team have been working hard to put together a new fully online course called ‘Antarctica Online’.

The course features lectures that were filmed on the ice and examines contemporary Antarctic scientific research, placing it in a wider scientific, historical, social and cultural context. Rebecca and Cliff gathered material over 10 days around Scott Base, McMurdo Station, and the Ross Island historic huts and three days at an Antarctic Research Centre field camp in the Transantarctic Mountains.

As well as filming lectures for their own modules—on Antarctic science history, and Geology and paleoclimate—they also filmed material for a third module, Constructing Antarctica, which will be led by Rhian, and Leon Gurevitch from the School of Design.

Most of us will never get to visit Antarctica, but this course hopes to offer the next best thing.

The course runs from Monday 28 September to Friday 6 November 2015 (6 weeks)

Fee: $120  (There are no prerequisites for this course)  ENROL HERE



The Conversation

The following work is by Matapuku Robati, a student in our Science Communication course. For this assignment, students were encouraged to explore non-written modes of communication. Below is the story of this work…


If I was given the opportunity to communicate something to the world that I actually gave a shit about, what would it be? This notion came to me from Dr Rhian Salmon who described the inner challenge of deciding what to speak about as she was preparing for a TEDx Talk. This was the inspiration that placed ‘The Conversation’ at the forefront of other scientific topics that I had considered for a creative science communication piece. My aim was to communicate the science of climate change to a non-specialist audience by engaging in a continuous two-way exchange of knowledge between specialists and laymen. I am no climate change specialist by any stretch of the imagination, but for this project I assumed that particular position. The role of the laymen was allotted to my teenage daughter (Sanaa), nephews (Isaac, Adam and Te Ahi) and nieces (Daley, Grace, Faith, Tuakana and Missy). However I felt that these roles were frequently interchanged throughout the course of the project as I felt myself being educated about the complexities of the teenage psyche on many occasions. Whilst not addressing a worldwide audience, but definitely a global issue, I felt a moral obligation to address the teenagers in our family, because at some stage they will need to deal with what generations before them have left behind. ‘The Conversation’ is a creative science communication piece that tackles the issue of climate change by drawing attention to its link with our personal energy consumption.

The KidsDaley and Sanaa

A changing climate is upon us and as a result of the human consumption of fossil fuels global surface temperatures have been increasing rapidly since the advent of the industrial age. With the latest electronic socially necessitated devices appearing more frequently on the teenage wish list and communication within households occurring more often via social media than in person, I felt compelled to at least engage in a conversation that would allow us to look at the situation with some degree of objectivity. But first I needed to establish common ground and between myself and the rest of the family – and music is something we all love!! So it was not very difficult to entice the teenage faction within the family to help me write a song. Prior to that invitation a series of casual conversations about climate change unfolded between me, my daughter and several of my nieces and nephews; who knew what? and how we each of us felt about it. Only 1 out of these 9 teenagers I spoke with had some kind of understanding of climate change and how we as individuals are influencing it. I began to elucidate the subject utilizing various forms of information with the intention of allowing those who engaged in the process of writing the song to think intently about the information I presented, whilst considering any barriers in this exchange and how they thought it could be best conveyed. A collective decision was made to portray the different stages of personal opinion and understanding of the conversations that took place in the song. Considerations as to the intended audience, genre, tempo, artistic elements, delivery, video etc… saw these teenagers don the role of multidisciplinary expert, whilst I took note of their views and steered the project to an amicable conclusion. I have since allowed the budding environmental enthusiasts to take ownership of our creation, to see if they can impart what they have learnt to others. For artistic integrity it was decided that ‘The Conversation’ would be posted on Vimeo. My niece, Daley Bishop, who has been a key collaborator in the development of the project, has since been given the opportunity to speak about the project and could possibly get ‘The Conversation’ some airtime on Atiawa Toa FM.

Success for me in this process would be for at least one of these kids to consider the impact of their energy consumption and, more ambitiously, that one would go on to influence the behaviour and culture of society with regards to our impact on the changing climate.


The Conversation

Lyrics:Daley Bishop, Sanaa Tupuivao & Matapuku Robati
Creative contributions: Tuakana Pupuke
Producer: Matapuku Robati
Video & Images: Matapuku Robati;

Pre chorus

Don’t take my device away / it’s my life my everything – x 2

Verse 1:

You say I should care about the world, but I don’t.

I don’t care what you say what you do with your thoughts.

What I own is mine stop wasting your time preaching about a minor thing, it’s not my problem.


I ain’t trying to drag you down/ just want you to look up

You got your head in your phone/ you can’t see that were stuck

We leave devices on charge, the lights left on, we take the car to the shop/hot water until it’s gone

You know we’re using more than ever before/ power bills through the roof and appetites are growing more.

The source ain’t infinite, if we can’t find more/ we need to change right now, we need to take a detour.


We are – x 3

Running out of patience

Whatever man, whatever man.

Chorus 1:

Don’t take my device away / it’s my life my everything – x 2

Verse 1:


Keep your iPod and your phone what I need is your trust/ give me your ears for a second this is bigger than us.

Bigger than who’s rocking the next best big thing/best be better than your average teenage meme right?

Temperatures are rising/a result of the gases emitted from the cars that we driving.

Things we consume, energy we use / 80% still coming from fossil fuels.

Weather patterns changing, sea levels on the rise/ homes in the pacific sitting beneath the tide

Then there’s us sitting at home oblivious/ apart of the cause, but we gotta change or we’re ……..


We are – x 3

Running out of time

And you should know it all matters.

Chorus 2:

Don’t change my skies today / I’m staying far from that energy – x 2

Verse 3:

Every thought on my mind / has no conclusion, resolution.

Not the life I had in sight / over and over constantly moving.

Now I know, now I’m aware/ I will change some habits yes.

It’s just one of those things/ it’s ongoing

And now I know it all matters.

Chorus 2:

Don’t change my skies today / I’m staying far from that energy- x6

What Lies Beneath – by Matapuku Robati

The following assignment was written by Matapuku Robati, a student in our science communication undergraduate course.


Weather, holiday packages, resorts, vacation, and accommodation: these are among the top five Google searches related to the Cook Islands. When I speak with family, friends and work colleagues with reference to my homeland, similar subjects emerge in the conversation: “retirement, vacation, weddings, family reunions, titles and family land”. When I ask if anyone has heard of the Cook Islands Marine Park? I receive a mixture of answers. All of them were unaware that in 2012 Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna declared more than half the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) a Marine Park – now known as Marae Moana, one of the largest in the world. The Marine Park is in its final stages of development involving various stake holders and specialists working together, a not-too-common alliance of industry and the public.

As a teenager, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my Papa in the capital of Rarotonga. Although many memories of that time now seem hazy, certain experiences have not escaped me. I spent days covered in a warm blanket of tropical ocean where the lagoon and its inhabitants became familiar friends. The rocks and reef resembled streets as my Papa warned me of which marine neighbourhoods to avoid and which individuals in them should be left alone. He took the time to explain the tradition of Rahui which, in pre-colonial societies of the Cook Islands, was a traditional system used to manage areas set aside with certain restrictions, for the purpose of conserving species or resource that were under pressure. He would show me the boundaries of certain no-take areas, but would also boast of secret fishing spots way beyond the reef by referencing landmarks and certain currents. I was also shown how to harvest certain species of sea snail within the lagoon and on the reef such as; kauri, trocus and conch for artisanal purposes, used in traditional ceremonies and for sale at the local market. It was as obvious to me then as it is to me now that the people there were very much aware of their environment and the resources with which they have depended on for generations. It is with this in mind that I see the importance of the development of Marae Moana in protecting marine species and resources, whilst preserving the traditions and values of the Cook Islands peoples that have developed alongside this resource.

The Cook Islands lie approximately 3,000 km north-east of New Zealand amidst the Polynesian triangle, a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand consisting of 15 islands and atolls. It was first settled by Pacific Island seafarers from the nearby islands of Tahiti and Samoa in the 13th century. The country now bears the name of British explorer, navigator, and cartographer Captain James Cook who visited the islands in 1773. The Cook Islands totals 240 sq km of land whilst having an EEZ that is approximately 1,830,000 sq km in size. The EEZ is an area of water prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the sea that spans 200 nautical miles around the coast of the Islands. This gives the Cook Islands exclusive rights over the exploration and use of marine resources within this zone. Industry has had the opportunity to capitalize on the resource within the EEZ with commercial fishing of Tuna and Pearl farming being one of the country’s main exports. Approximately 1,100,000 sq km of the EEZ, about the size of France and Spain combined, has been designated a Marine Park named Marae Moana to promote sustainable development that balances both economic growth whilst conserving biodiversity and natural assets. This seems an ambitious task for a developing nation but with roughly 75% of its GDP coming by way of tourism it makes sense to preserve its waters in as pristine a state that is advertised to this market.

In the spirit of the country’s name sake, the people of the Cook Islands have endeavoured to create a series of maps of the seabed in and around the Cook Islands EEZ in an effort to develop how Marae Moana will be managed. Maps outlining particular habitats, no-take fishing, restricted fishing and potential Deep Sea Mining Zones have been created via a Geographic Information System (GIS) known as Seasketch. The initiative stemmed from the mind of New Zealand rugby league great Kevin Iro. Kevin, also of Cook Islands descent, grew up in Auckland but visited the Islands frequently throughout his life and noticed over time the changes happening within the waters of the Cook Islands; fishermen were catching fewer fish, coral was dying and invasive species were moving in. He wanted to build one of the world’s largest marine parks in the hope of addressing some of the issues presented by both industry and local pressures upon the biodiversity and natural resources within the Cook Islands waters. A steering committee was formed to gather information from locals and various interest groups using Seasketch to create maps to share how they would like the resource to be managed.

Like a child enthused to be meeting his idols for the first time, it was with nervous anticipation that I awaited a Skype interview with Kevin Iro and Cook Islands conservation champion Jacqueline Evans, both apart of the Marae Moana Steering committee. In another time the conversation would have easily been about Kevin’s rugby league exploits but today was about much more, about an initiative to preserve the life and resources within our oceans for future generations. The agreed meeting time of 11am rolls around, anxiety gets the better of me and I hesitate to press the video call icon. But as I hesitate, the call from Kevin comes to me, “dang it” I think to myself. But a sigh of relief quickly comes over me because due to a bad connection we are only able to voice chat and I don’t have to deal with the awkward feeling of being stared at by an idol of mine in my onesie. We exchange pleasantries and the interview commences.

Kevin describes political will as being the most challenging in the development of Marae Moana. There is a general understanding across the board that conservation of biodiversity and natural resources is needed. However set against the economic benefits of current fisheries and the potential future benefits of Deep-Sea Mining (DSM) of the ocean floor Kevin admits, “being able to convince people at a political level that a balance is needed is probably the main challenge”.

“There is always a small minority that overharvest. It seems to be increasingly common now, when people are just taking what they want. I think because our traditional systems have broken down quite a bit, so the respect for the lagoon just is not there anymore”. Jacqueline has been working to see various conservation initiatives implemented throughout the Cook Islands for over 20 years. She hopes that Marae Moana policy will address this behaviour as well as local concerns about commercial seine fishing, a method of net fishing that resembles a bag when enclosing the catch, and use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), “they are not happy about foreign fishing boats taking fish out of their waters”. Jacqueline hopes to have a draft of the marine park policy written up by October 2014. However with political uncertainty, the country has yet to establish a governing caucus after a recount in July’s elections, these obstacles obscure progress in finalizing Marae Moana Policy.

Exploitation of seabed minerals has the potential to provide the Cook Islands with enormous economic benefits. According to the governments seabed minerals authority an estimated 10 billion tons of manganese nodules lies within the Cook Islands EEZ, located in the Penrhyn Basin. Manganese nodules are found in abundance in four regions of the Ocean: Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ); Peru Basin; Penrhyn Basin; and the Indian Ocean, as detailed in the 2014 world ocean review.

Manganese nodules range in size from that of a potato to a head of lettuce. Formation occurs when dissolved metal compounds in the sea water, from hydrothermal vents, precipitate over time around a core of biogenic material and settles on the seafloor. This core for example could be a sharks tooth or a fragment of clam shell around which the nodules grow. The nodules lie scattered numerously on the seafloor like sesame seeds on a bun, at depths of 3500 to 6500 meters where tremendous pressure, deep-sea currents and millions of years are needed for them to grow.

Nodules are composed primarily of manganese and iron, including lower concentrations of cobalt, copper nickel and rare earth elements that are of economic interest to industry for various key technologies such as: microchips; LED and plasma screens; electronic motors, wind turbine generators; and smartphones. As land deposits of these elements become scarce mining of the deep sea is a very real prospect.

Deep Sea Mining (DSM) is a new frontier and is yet to be initiated anywhere in the world. Kelvin Passfield, director of the Cook Islands environmental NGO “Te Ipukarea Society” voices shared concern, “There is very little science available at present but, as an environmental watchdog for the Cook Islands, we want this science to be available before the mining starts. It is looking likely that the only way science will be done will be as a part of exploratory mining.  This is because the cost of doing research is so high at such depths (4000m plus)”.

Kevin and Jacqueline were part of the Marae Moana steering committee that conducted public consultation on behalf of the government around the Cook Islands to give locals a chance to voice their opinions about the marine park and competing interests. Many were in support of Marae Moana concept, particularly in the outer islands where the practice of “Rahui” is still strong. The general public could see the potential benefits of DSM but an underlying tone of concern in regards to the limited research and impact it might have on their way of life was evident.

My way of life and the technology that I utilize; the consumer I am that desires the latest smartphone on the market demands the resources that lie beneath our oceans. This could provide a way for developing nations like the Cook Islands to emulate our western lifestyles by boosting its economy, but could also drastically alter the marine environment and the Cook Islands way of life that has developed alongside it.  As a New Zealand born Cook Islander I am concerned with the exploitation and development by industry within Cook Islands waters and within all other oceanscapes. I am also concerned with my personal consumption of certain technologies that drives the demand to exploit these resources. I am concerned with my consumption of seafood that is obtained commercially from similar environments such as the Cook Islands. However I am now more conscious of my personal consumption and the greater implications it has on the environment. With initiatives like Marae Moana that utilises education and partnerships to raise public awareness, informed decisions can be made by all. And as a result of Marae Moana I am now more aware of these issues and have hope that I too will be able to point my children to the same treasures that were shown to me by my Papa.

Marae Moana – our sacred home of the Sea.



Marae Moana – Twitter: Cook Is. Marine Park @marae moana; Facebook:

Seasketch website:

Te Ipukarea Society website: –

Cook Islands Seabed and minerals authority:

Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation:

SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project

World’s Largest Marine Park: Mapping the Blue:

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