Nelson teacher inspiring young women to achieve in science wins $100k award for school

A Nelson teacher is being recognised for her winning formula in the classroom, which has seen an increasing number of young women succeed in science.

Today Sarah Johns received the 2017 Prime Minister's Science Teacher Prize, winning $100,000 dollars for Nelson College for Girls and $50,000 for herself.

"I try to make it inclusive that science is everywhere and everything," Mrs Johns told 1 NEWS.

"And it's not pure, like science relies on creativity, and it relies on innovation and it relies on risk taking and that's something kids generally aren't afraid of."

In the nine years Mrs Johns has been teaching at the school, more students have become involved in science. Around 70 now take part in the region's Science and Technology Fair Awards.

Sarah Johns.
Sarah Johns. Source: 1 NEWS

"When I'm in here and I talk to my girls, I'm not trying to talk you into being a scientist or to study science. I am preparing you, coaching you, for the world that you're gonna step into".

Her teaching style is proving popular with students.

"She doesn't just talk about hypothetical stuff, she talks about real stuff,"  Year 11 student Sophie Craw told 1 NEWS.

"Like with chemistry she might talk about, like detergent or soap or something that we would know about".

Mrs Johns has embarked on her own learning experiences outside the classroom, working in Antarctica, Nepal and Samoa.

Nelson College for Girls Principal Cathy Ewing says Mrs Johns has brought back "practical applications" from those experiences, showing students what science can do for them in terms of future careers.

"And really emphasising the role that women can play in terms of what they might be able to go on and do," Mrs Ewing said.

Sarah Johns received the Prime Minister’s Science Teachers Prize. Source: 1 NEWS



Government gives $750k initial aid package to cyclone-ravaged Tonga to 'meet its immediate needs'

An RNZAF Hercules is flying to Tonga this afternoon carrying emergency relief supplies to Tonga.

Possibly the strongest storm ever recorded in the Pacific Island kingdom, Cyclone Gita passed Tonga overnight causing widespread destruction, flooding and power outages.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has told Parliament the plane is being deployed after a verbal request from the Tongan government to help the 5700 people seeking shelter in evacuation centres. He says it's expected these numbers will increase substantially tonight.

The Hercules is carrying family hygiene kits, shelter kits, jerry cans, and tarpaulins.

The plane is also carrying a New Zealand Government team to support the New Zealand High Commission to assess emergency needs and respond to requests from the Government of Tonga.

Mr Peters says the full extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is still being assessed but there is an immediate need for assistance on the ground.

The Prime Minister said she just spoke to Winston Peters and Cyclone Gita relief funds for Tonga are "all signed off". Source: 1 NEWS

Initial assessments indicate there has been extensive damage to homes in Nuku’alofa and some damage to commercial buildings, he says.

Mr Peters told the House he has also approved an initial package of $750,000 to support relief efforts in Tonga.

"I'll help the government of Tonga to meet immediate needs such as emergency shelter, water and sanitation," he said.

At this stage Fuaʻamotu International Airport runway in Tongatapu is open to emergency supply aircraft only. 

Mr Peters says a visual inspection of the international airport has shown the runway to be intact with minimal damage.

New Zealand is coordinating the international relief response alongside other countries including Australia.

With respect to Samoa, Mr Peters said the Government has already approived $50,000 emergency funds for the New Zealand High Commisison in Apia to use to support Samoan efforts.

"And as we get a clearer picture of demand we'll be ready to answer and respond," he said.

"As the situation on the ground becomes clearer we'll support governments with longer term recovery and reconstruction."

Mr Peters said that following previous events New Zealand has for example helped get the power network up and running, repaired schools and other government infrastructure and ensured clean water is available.

The Foreign Minister says a Hercules is flying to Tonga and relief money has been approved for the two island nations. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Watch: Relief supplies for Cyclone-ravaged Tonga prepped by busy NZ Defence personel

Emergency supplies from New Zealand are set to be sent to Tonga this afternoon in an effort to provide assistance to Cyclone hit Tonga.

Severe damage was caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita overnight, levelling houses and tearing off roofs as winds reached nearly 280km/h.

Follow 1 NEWS NOW's live updates as Cylone Gita heads towards Fiji

A RNZAF C130 Hercules aircraft carrying emergency supplies including hygiene kits, shelter kits, jerry cans and tarpaulins, along with a New Zealand government team will fly to Tonga this afternoon.

"The full extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is still being assessed but there is an immediate need for assistance on the ground," Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says.

Cyclone Gita hit Tonga overnight leaving widespread destruction including flooding and power outages. Source: 1 NEWS

"Initial assessments indicate there has been extensive damage to homes in Nuku'alofa and some damage to commercial buildings," he says.

"About 5,700 people sought shelter in evacuation centres overnight, and it is expected these numbers will increase substantially tonight."

New Zealand is coordinating the international relief response alongside other countries including Australia.