Blog BLAST & Student Panel

TALKFEST 2014 Blog BLAST Student Panel Competition – Information for Teachers

The TALKFEST Blog BLAST competition is an opportunity to engage students in learning about communication, linking to health, science and key competencies.


    • Blogs are one tool in the modern science communicators tool-kit. They are used by scientists to communicate news of their work to the community, and receive feedback.
    • TALKFEST 2014 Blog BLAST is a competition that enables students to take part in active online communication, while preparing for the TALKFEST discussions.
    • The winning entries will be posted on the LENScience Community Blog alongside posts from prominent scientists.
    • The New Zealand winners will also travel to Auckland to meet with Professor Winston and form the Student Panels for TALKFEST 2014.
    • Prizes for the Cook Islands winning entries will be announced shortly.

Blog BLAST Years 7 – 10 Competition – Information for Teachers

Puberty: Let’s Talk About it with the Experts


    • Puberty is a period of physical, social, emotional and intellectual change.
    • The physical changes associated with puberty are occurring almost four years earlier now than they were 100 years ago.
    • During the pubertal phase of growth young people are also facing social and emotional change, not least that associated with moving school – from primary to intermediate and then on to secondary school.
    • Additionally adolescence, the period between childhood and adulthood, is getting longer – now stretching through into the early 20’s.
    • The use of the word experts in the title plays on the fact that the students, their parents, teachers and the scientists all have expert experience of puberty from differing perspectives.
    • The Blog BLAST student page contains information for students, competition instructions and entry forms.
    • Years 7-10 Blog BLAST Topic: Puberty – Let’s Talk About it with the Experts
      (Full details for students are available from the student Blog BLAST page)
    • Moving from childhood to adolescence involves lots of change. You have changed physically and emotionally. Your intellectual and social development has rocketed forward. And to top it all off, many of you keep having to change schools!
    • Develop a Blog Post exploring the challenges of changing schools.
      • How did you cope going to a new school with different people, different places and different ways of doing things?
      • What advice would you give to young people about to enter a period of change in their lives?
      • Your Blog BLAST should be about 300 words if you are in Years 7-8 and can be up to 500 words if you are in Years 9-10.

Blog BLAST Years 12-13 Competition – Information for Teachers

Reproductive Technologies: An issue for our time

Reproductive Technologies-13

    • Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and pre-implantation genetic diagnostics (PGD) have opened up incredible opportunities for many families over the past 30 years.
    • An increasing number of our students have personal connections to these technologies.
    • The TALKFEST provides an opportunity for Years 12-13 students to discuss reproduction, assisted reproductive technologies, and the ethical challenges that can arise from these with Lord Winston, a pioneer and expert in this field.
    • This has strong links to the Science Curriculum and to several Achievement Standards associated with Biology courses in the senior school.
    • Schools that offer religious studies and ethics courses may also find this event provides a very useful learning opportunity on which to build.
    • The Blog BLAST student page contains information for students, competition instructions and entry forms.
    • Years 12-13 Blog BLAST Topic: Reproductive Technologies – an issue for our time
      (Full details for students are available from the student Blog BLAST page)
      Lord Winston’s research has been in the field of gynaecology. His areas of research have included  assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), as well as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). These technologies have benefited many people, however they have also raised interesting ethical challenges relating to how we use such technologies:

      • What happens to unused embryos?
      • Is it ethical to select embryos for specific conditions?
      • When is it acceptable to use these technologies?
      • Which genetic conditions should we select for or against?
      • Who should have access to this technology?
      • What are possible future developments in this area?
    • Develop a Blog BLAST exploring the benefits and challenges that have emerged from advances in reproductive technologies.
    • Your Blog BLAST should be around 500 words.

Suggested Learning Activities linked to Blog BLAST – Information for Teachers


    • The Blog BLAST competition can be used as a learning experience exploring what a blog is and how scientists and health-researcher use blogs.
    • Students can explore what blogs are, how they are used and then develop their Blog BLAST entry.  See our Blog Information Sheet to get started!
    • Prior to writing a blog for the competition, students could write blogs with a scientific perspective about topics or issues they have been exploring recently in class.
    • The topic given for the competitions are intentionally broad. Teachers may wish to narrow the scope of the topic for younger classes.
    • Peer-to-peer review/critique can be used to allow the students to assess the quality of their blog-posts and refine their entries.
    • Good online places to take students to explore how scientists use blogs include:

      Additional related learning resources for middle school and senior school classes are available from the LENScience web site.