Creative thinking earns local students a place at international conference

22 July 2011

A project examining the long-term effects of the Canterbury earthquakes on air pollution has won a local student an opportunity to present her findings to an international audience.

A project examining the long-term effects of the Canterbury earthquakes on air pollution has won a local student an opportunity to present her findings to an international audience.

Year 12 Ellesmere College student Leigh Thrupp will join four other geography students that the University of Canterbury is sending up to Auckland later this month to participate in the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand 2011 Conference.

The other students are Cashmere High School’s Emma Pairman and Jarryd Johnson and UC third-years Megan Coup and Fiona Thomas, who were the top prize winners of two competitions run by the University of Canterbury in conjunction with the New Zealand branch of CASANZ and sponsored by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Leigh’s poster was entitled “The Future for Canterbury: Effects on air pollution from the Canterbury Earthquake”.

“I believe that due to the Canterbury earthquake air polluting levels for Canterbury could do one of two things. Either, the air pollution level could increase due to people being able to use their open fires and older log burners, or the air pollution may not change as due to the earthquake, people’s chimneys have collapsed and aren't able to be used.”

The College of Science Outreach Programme ran a poster competition for senior high school students in Canterbury studying geography. Students were invited to submit a poster around the subject of air quality, based on the curriculum.

Prizes of Westfield vouchers, generously funded by the NZTA, were awarded to the top three places ($500, $300 and $200). In addition the two top posters will be displayed at the Clean Air Society’s 20th international conference in Auckland from 31 July to 2 August and those two posters’ creators will be flown up to take part in the conference’s Sunday afternoon student event to present their poster, meet delegates, answer questions about their entries and receive their awards.

College of Science Outreach Co-ordinator Joan Gladwyn said the Outreach Programme had been working to support Geography teachers in New Zealand for some years and “this competition is a new way to encourage students to go the extra mile with their work on contemporary geographic issues”.

The University competition involved the best GEOG305 Environmental Hazards and Management air pollution assignments winning similar NZTA-sponsored vouchers and getting to participate in the international conference.

The NZTA sponsored the competition as part of its commitment to reducing adverse environmental effects from land transport.

Associate Professor Simon Kingham, Head of the Department of Geography and Co-director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at the University of Canterbury, who was one of the judging panel for the competitions, said “the quality of the students’ work was very high.  They all showed a high level of understanding of some complex air pollution issues, and should be very proud of their work.”

He said the “prize” of free attendance at the conference for winning students was a valuable opportunity.  

“This should be a great experience for the students as they will get to meet professionals in the field of air quality and environmental management, and hear some great speakers, including Professor Bert Brunekreef from Utrecht University in The Netherlands who is one of the biggest names in the world in this area."

Professor Kingham and UC doctoral students Woodroe Pattinson and Omid Alizadeh will also be presenting at the conference.

More about the conference can be found at

For more information please contact:  
Maria De Cort
Communications Officer
University of Canterbury

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