Education & Careers //

Science for Schools

The Maurice Wilkins Centre is committed to supporting science education in New Zealand schools. High-quality science education not only encourages the next generation of researchers, it also helps all young New Zealanders to understand and value science and how new scientific developments are important in their everyday lives.


Maurice Wilkins Centre school outreach initiatives

Biology is a fast moving field and teachers need mechanisms to keep abreast of the latest developments if they are to successfully pass these messages along to their students. The Centre realised the mechanisms to achieve this were very limited in New Zealand and so has decided to focus on working directly to support high school biology teachers.  


Science teacher professional development

The NCEA curriculum requires biology teachers to teach in a variety of new areas but specific professional development courses have not been available. The Maurice Wilkins Centre has used the expertise of its investigators to provide teachers with a series of science update courses tailored to be directly relevant to the new curriculum.

The material has been presented in a series of free teacher professional development days, beginning in Auckland in 2012. To date, over 50 workshops have been held at 22 different venues from Kaitaia to Invercargill. These have attracted over 1800 registrations from teachers and when surveyed they said that the days were either “essential” or “very valuable”. All of the material is also freely available on our biology teacher resources page and 95% of teachers who attended said they plan to use parts of this directly in their classroom teaching.

MWC ran 6 workshops in 2023The 2023 programme started in Kaitaia at Waimanoni Marae (21 July), hosted by The Moko Foundation, followed by visits to Whangārei (22 July), Auckland (23 July), Christchurch (13 November), New Plymouth (14 November), and Rotorua (15 November). Topics included the homeostatic control of body weight, the genomics of complex health conditions, the latest science and understanding of Long Covid, genetics and ecological research within a Te Ao Māori framework, and the science and development of a new dahlia-based diabetes drug within New Zealand.  As in previous years, the events were extremely popular with over 260 local science educators and health providers from across the country attending.

Read more about the programme, here.


Biology teacher development scholarships

The Centre also sponsors scholarships for high-school biology teachers to attend the annual Queenstown Research Week (QRW). The aim is to give New Zealand teachers the opportunity to attend an international conference on contemporary biological research and network with colleagues and practicing biologists from around the world. 

Three high-school teachers were supported in 2023: Summer Edwards from Gisborne Boys' High School (Gisborne), Hamish McLellan from Nayland College (Nelson), and Melanie Young from Southland Girls' High School (Invercargill) . They attended the lecture by Professor David Julius, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and continued with science-filled days on Nanotechnology – Applications in Health, Agriculture and beyond.