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'Lab in a box' takes science to the people

A shipping container turned science lab is taking a world of science and learning to the people.

The project's just had its first showing in Dunedin and is now embarking on a science tour to the regions. Source: 1 NEWS

The state-of-the art mobile "lab in a box" has just had its first showing in Dunedin and is now embarking on a science tour to the regions.

The project came about from a Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment grant intended to encourage participation in science.

"The risk here is that we have whole groups of people really that don't get engaged with science and don't have positive experiences with science," said Associate Professor Peter Dearden of the University of Otago.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars of high tech equipment such as telescopes and microscopes comes with it.

The lab in a box is targeted at young people but will also be available for community groups that don't always have easy access to science.

"We'd like to think that people might say 'well we're interested in the health of a local river' or 'we're interested the biodiversity of a local area' and that they might use the equipment in lab in a box and the links back to scientists in various places round the country to do those things themselves," Associate Professor Dearden said.

It's been a collaborative effort with the likes of the Otago Museum providing staff to assist with education. 

"Even if 10 or 15 kids, as a result of going through this process, get inspired enough to go to university, study, start companies that know help generate money for the local economy that's a really brilliant thing," said Dr Ian Griffin, Otago Museum Director.

The box's busy life is kicking off with a South Island tour stretching from Southland right up the West Coast.



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