Secondary school pupils snacking on study at university

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Coming down . . . Sophie Dobson (17), of Christchurch, throws her egg capsule from the roof of the Beverly-Begg Observatory on Tuesday as part of the University of Otago's Hands-On at Otago programme. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

New Zealand secondary school pupils spent last week getting a taste of what the University of Otago has to offer.

Three hundred and eighty year 12 and 13 pupils from 165 schools are at the university for its Hands-On at Otago programme, now in its 30th year.

The programme allows pupils to experience the university atmosphere and environment.

They work on projects throughout the week, get a “snack-sized” look at other subjects and stay in residential halls.

Organising committee convener Dr Judith Bateup said “the programme is a wonderful experience of what life would be like as a student”.

Hands-On at Otago co-ordinator Dee Roben said it was an “exciting programme” to be involved with and the engagement and enthusiasm from pupils was great to see.

“Many of the pupils who go through Hands-On at Otago choose Otago as their place to study once they’ve left high schools.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of pupils made capsules to protect an egg when it was dropped off the roof of the Beverly-Begg Observatory.

Sophie Dobson (17), of Christchurch, and Yishi Bai (17), of Auckland, wrapped their egg in a pillowcase, put it in a box made of popsicle sticks and attached it to a newspaper parachute.

When asked if she thought the egg would survive, Sophie said it “could go either way”.

Thankfully, the egg remained intact after it was dropped from the roof.

Sophie is working on a English project this week, while also learning about medieval calligraphy, astronomy and law.

“I have had a really good time so far.”