Scientists are not just old men in lab coats – they can be chefs, teachers and even teenage girls.
That is what sisters Rhiannon and Cerys Thomas think people misunderstand about science.
“Some people get the impression that a scientist is an old man in a lab . . . [but] science is in everything we do,” Rhiannon said.
“Hopefully that’s something that will change in the future . . . because we already need a bit more representation.”
The two Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils recently participated in the 2021 Aurora Energy Science and Technology Fair, and won four awards between them.
Cerys won a New Zealand Institute of Chemistry award for her project, pHaecal Matters!, which compared sheep with cows and the effects of grazing near rivers .
For her project Don’t Burst My Bubble, Rhiannon won a University of Otago department of psychology award, a New Zealand Psychological Society award and an Aurora Energy General award.
Rhiannon’s project investigated how people of different social types valued their personal space.
The competition was open to year 7 to 13 pupils, and the Thomas sisters were the only Waitaki Girls’ High School pupils to enter.
“It’s definitely worth entering. It’s really fun,” Cerys said.
“People think science fairs are kind of boring, when actually you can research anything you want to,” Rhiannon added.
Rhiannon said there was something out there for everyone.
In July, Cerys won the people’s choice award for a competition to design a creature at the New Zealand International Science Festival in Dunedin.
Both girls entered their first science fairs in year 6, while attending Totara School.
They grew up on a diet of science – their mother is a vet and their father is a researcher.
Their youngest sister, Florence (6), also caught the science bug, with a love for animals.