Examples of how Futureintech Ambassadors can support Maths, Science, Technology and Careers teaching
Inspired by any of these stories? Contact your local Futureintech Facilitator to find out what great learning opportunities they can arrange for your students – while we can't guarantee a particular Ambassador or session, we will do our best to organise a visit that works for you.
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Maths Week visitors discuss how they use maths at work
Mathematics | Years 1-6 | Central/West Auckland region | October 2017
Stephen Lopati and Vivianne Tadros visited Rosebank School (Auckland) for Maths Week. They spoke to 150 Year 5-6 students about their jobs and how they use maths. Stephen talked about his role as a civil engineer with Tonkin & Taylor. He discussed construction of the new Waterview Tunnel near the school in relation to maths – the number of engineers and the number of concrete tiles, for example, and the addition and multiplication relating to that.
Vivianne gave a presentation about her job at New Zealand Transport Agency and what it’s like to work as a transportation engineer. She too discussed the maths she uses in her work, focusing on a bridge replacement project she worked on in Northland.
Teacher Sheela Stanley said the presentations were of a high standard and students could see the connection between what they are studying and careers in engineering. “And that’s the exposure we are looking for – showing students what they can achieve with maths.”
Photo: engineer Stephen Lopati
Learning about opportunities and careers with science
Science; Careers | Years 11-13 | Christchurch region | October 2017
HOD Science Karen Powell requested Ambassador support for the Avonside Girls’ High School Year 11 Double Science course. Students work towards double the usual number of NCEA Science credits so are timetabled for eight periods each week. Karen was keen for students to learn more about different science fields before choosing topics for their science projects. Six Ambassadors visited the class at various times during the term.
Environmental scientist Sarah Jackman from AgResearch talked about how all research starts with a question and explained her role in setting up experiments to answer environmental questions. She then had the students work on an activity around possible questions for an experiment on plants.
Abigail Neave from Beca discussed her role as a mechanical design engineer with Beca. She then had the students work on a paper glider activity to demonstrate dynamics.
Structural engineer Harriet Ingham from Holmes Consulting also followed her presentation with an engineering activity. Half the class designed and built a tower with marshmallows and spaghetti, while the other half used winegums and toothpicks. The students then tested their towers for stability, rigidity and flexibility.
Carey Lintott from Beca talked about working on fresh and wastewater projects and water quality projects in her role as a water engineer.
Environmental scientist Aimee Robinson from Ballance Agri-Nutrients discussed her role looking after farming and surrounding primary industries environments. She ran an activity in which students had to provide solutions to help a farmer.
Marine ecologist Chris Woods from NIWA talked about looking after New Zealand’s marine life. Students tasted seaweed and looked at marine samples he brought along.
“They were great role models for our girls” says Karen. Co-teacher Debby Schefer adds, “The students really enjoyed the talks, asked lots of great questions and had fun with the activities – which often led on to further questions.”
Photo: Ambassadors Sarah Jackman, Chris Woods and Harriet Ingham.
What it's like to be an engineer
Technology | Years 1-6 | Central/West Auckland region | October 2017
Year 4 Gifted & Talented Education students at Point Chevalier School designed a weather station as their Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards project. Mentor Phoebe Moses, a structural engineer at Beca, helped them explore what it’s like to be an engineer.
Phoebe first visited her group of mini engineers in February for a planning session. She gave a presentation about her job, with the 12 students very engaged and asking lots of questions. This, says teacher Hannah Macfarlane, got them thinking about engineering and mathematical principles, such as volume.
Phoebe returned for 13 more visits, helping students use engineering tools – including a risk matrix and importance chart – to focus their ideas on creating a sun dial, weather vane, and thermometer. Using a laser measure during a measuring activity was a highlight for many students.
Phoebe also discussed the communication skills that engineers need when, for example, talking to stakeholders. The students created a questionnaire to help them find out what staff and other students thought was needed in a weather station. They then designed the station and completed construction drawings.
Hannah says Phoebe’s expertise made the project dynamic and meaningful, and the children looked forward to her visits. “She’s also a great role model. After her first visit one of the girls said that she’d thought the engineer would be a man with a moustache!” Students giving feedback on the project said they “learnt heaps”, “wished the class ran for longer each week” and that “Phoebe came along every time.”
Photos: engineer Phoebe Moses with students at Point Chevalier School
Using pedal power to recharge school laptops
Technology | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | August 2017
Electrical engineer Kate MacDonald MIPENZ from GHD is working with students at St Peter’s School (Christchurch) on a pedal power project for the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. The Year 7-8 students are designing a stationary bicycle that can generate electricity for charging the school’s laptops and iPads.
In her first two visits to the class, Kate has talked about her career as an electrical engineer and covered some basics, including how an electrical generator works. She’s helping teacher Maxine Gill guide the students as they research the equipment they’ll need for the project. They’re also preparing a bill of materials and a budget to present to the client – the Board of Trustees – applying for funding being a very important part of any engineering project.
Kate says she is very impressed with the students, “They are keen and smart. After I explained briefly how an electrical generator works, one girl suggested that we wrap coils of wire around the spokes and put magnets on the spokes that go up and down as the wheels turn so that they can induce current in the wires. She designed a generator from first principles!”
The group have come up with a plan to use the stationary bike to turn a cordless drill backwards to create a voltage on the battery terminals. They will use this to charge a powerbank, which can be connected to electronic devices.
Photo: engineer Kate MacDonald
Providing an engineering perspective of systems
Science | Years 1-6 | Christchurch region | August 2017
Transportation engineer Charlotte French from GHD provided some engineering inspiration for Prebbleton School students studying ‘systems’.
She talked to the Year 5-6 class about her job and transportation systems, including the new motorway extension going through Prebbleton township. Charlotte had the students work in pairs on an activity, designing an intersection. Afterwards she went around the classroom to give feedback on each pair’s work.
Teacher Darelle Busfield says the students were very engaged, asking and answering Charlotte’s questions. “Her follow up task was engaging and fun, and the children all felt successful. “
Creating a robotic cupcake vending machine
Technology | Years 11-13 | North Auckland region | August 2017
Chemical engineer Brooke Clark from Fonterra is mentoring a group of Year 12 Technology students at Whangarei Girls’ High School. Four girls – The Technohackers – are creating a robotic cupcake vending machine as their CREST project.
Brooke is guiding the students as they work through the same technological process she uses in her role as a process technologist at Fonterra – Maungaturoto. Their machine will contain pre-made cupcake shells that are filled and topped by the robot based on a customer’s selections from a menu.
“It’s a very ambitious project,” Brooke says, “They have to think about every aspect, such as how they construct the machine and develop the software needed to run it. It’s exciting, and they’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
Food Technology teacher Rebecca Maunder says that the group’s mentors extend and challenge their design ideas. “They provide support, encouragement and inspiration, and an industry insight that we cannot provide in the classroom.”
Photo: engineer Brooke Clark
Supporting after school Code Club
| Years 7-8 Years 9-10 Years 11-13 | Central/West Auckland Central North Island region | July 2017
Software engineers Linda Chin from Xero and Nick Sarten from Trimble Loadrite are supporting St Dominic’s Catholic College (Henderson) students to learn programming.
The 12 Year 7 - 11 students meet after school once a week for Code Club (affiliated to Code Club Aotearoa). Gifted and Talented coordinator Sheila Boddington set up the club to provide an opportunity for students interested in learning to code. They’re creating computer games, animations and websites, and are learning how to use Scratch, HTML and CSS, Python and Sense Hat.
Nick and Linda move around the group, helping and encouraging the students as they learn new skills. They also work together to come up with tasks and challenges to help the students develop a greater understanding of both front end and back end programming.
“The students are really excited to have two people who actually work in the industry helping them develop their skills. Linda and Nick are so approachable and cope effortlessly with the different skill levels of students ranging from year 7 to year 11. We feel very lucky to have them as our volunteers”
Photo: engineer Nick Sarten
Making engineering real
Mathematics; Science | Years 11-13 | North Auckland region | July 2017
Automation engineer Aaron Taitoko from Tui Technology was busy during a visit to Dargaville High School. He visited a Maths and two Science classes, giving a presentation about his role to each class.
Aaron showed the Year 11 students how a ball clock and bin sorting system are designed, engaging them with questions about the process. “The robot didn’t do as good a job as you, why? What should we change on the machine so that the robot can do a better job?” He also provided worksheets and did some hands-on activities with the students.
Careers Advisor Julie Chiaroni says the 57 students and three teachers enjoyed their sessions. “Aaron was EXCELLENT; he made engineering real and is a great Māori role model for our students.”
Photo: engineer Aaron Taitoko
Food Technology and Dairy Science
Science; Technology ( Food ) | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | July 2017
Food technologist Sarah Jolly from Fonterra visited the Year 7/8 class at Hautapu School, where she trialled an activity from the upcoming Futureintech Pasture to Plate resource.
Sarah talked about food technology and dairy science, explaining how she applies them to her role as food safety and quality specialist at the Te Awamutu site. She then discussed the product development process and had the children make mozzarella cheese, followed by taste testing their product.
Deputy-principal Reshma Patel-Harman wanted to engage students with science in a real life context and motivate them for the Science Fair this year. She says Sarah instantly won the 34 children over with her warmth, storytelling and ability to include the audience in her presentation. “We would have her back anytime!”
Design and engineering in Technology classes
Technology | Years 11-13 | Christchurch region | July 2017
Mechanical engineer Richard Hunter from AIM Altitude visited Burnside High School where he talked to around 110 students over two sessions (four classes were split into two groups).
Richard talked to the Year 11-13 Technology students about the process he uses for designing aircraft interiors. Students could relate to this design process and see how it was directly applicable to their own project work. Students and teachers enjoyed Richard’s presentation, and there were quite a few questions at the end.
“Richard exceeded our expectations,” says John Creighton, HOD Technology. “The design approach way of thinking was superb. For some of the Year 12 students a light went on and they 'knew' what they wanted to do.”
Seven of the students will be working with an engineering mentor and entering their ambitious technology projects into the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. For Year 13 students, these projects will also make up a significant part of their assessment for New Zealand Scholarship in Technology.
Photo: Mechanical engineer Richard Hunter tries out an aircraft interior designed by AIM Altitude.
Engaging students with science and technology
Science ( Physics ) | Years 1-6 | South/East Auckland region | May 2017
Food technologist John Cox from ZeaGold was the second of three Ambassadors to visit Valley School this year as part of the Gifted and Talented Extension programme.
He spoke to 24 Year 2-6 students about his job then got the students to make their own product. Each group used a different recipe to make silly putty soap and had to work out how to change their mixture so that it could be shaped into a ball. The activity involved a lot of fun – and mess!
John used a hammer to show how using different energy would affect the silly putty – demonstrating the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid. This activity linked to the previous week’s visit when structural engineer Ross Yearbury from Blueprint Consulting Engineers had looked at force, tension and compression.
Teacher Marnie Loxton said the children were fascinated to learn about John’s job and how science is used in the world. “They enjoyed the activity that he prepared for them as it made them think, act and sound like scientists. There’s one word to sum up our session with John – inspirational”.
After the visit, Marnie continued the session by exploring another non-Newtonian fluid *oobleck, and the students designed a space rocket that could land in oobleck. “It was exciting to see one particular child use the knowledge he gained from the session and also transfer what he’d learnt the week before during Ross’s session on bridges.”
*Oobleck, a mixture of cornflour and water, has properties of both liquids and solids.
Bridge in a bag
Science ( Physics ) | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | May 2017
Structural engineer Doreen Prasad from Cheal Consultants visited St Patrick’s Catholic School (Taupo) to help engage students with STEM education, using Futureintech’s Bridge in a Bag kit. She talked to the Year 7/8 class about what structural engineering is, and discussed some of the projects she’s involved in at work.
Doreen then brought out the wooden pieces from the kit and gave advice about concepts such as force, load, compression and tension as students constructed their own bridges.
Teacher Angela Moeke organised the visit and says, “The children loved it. They were engaged and had a lot of follow-up questions.”
Photo: Ambassador Doreen Prasad with students and the Bridge in a Bag kit.
Selective breeding and genomics
Science ( Biology ) | Years 11-13 | North Auckland region | May 2017
Birkenhead College teacher Alison Purdie requested an Ambassador visit for her Year 13 Biology class. The students were studying genetics and would be assessed against Achievement Standard 91607 – Demonstrate understanding of human manipulations of genetic transfer and its biological implications.
As there weren’t any Ambassadors available at that time to visit the school, Melissa Stephen from DairyNZ in Hamilton talked to the 28 students via Skype.
Melissa discussed selective breeding and genomics, and explained how she applies this knowledge in her role as a genetic evaluation developer.
“It was so relevant to the topic we were studying,” Alison says, “and also completely different for them to talk to someone involved in the practical application of what we are learning. It will be interesting to see if any of them consider going into a career in agriculture.”
Learning about careers in science
Science; Careers | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | May 2017
The Year 7/8 cohort at Russley School (120 students) learnt about a variety of careers in science as part of their Science programme this year. Futureintech Ambassadors visited on separate occasions during Term 1 to talk about their roles in engineering, digital technologies and scientific research.
When researcher Phil Novis from Landcare Research visited, he talked about his career path and experience working as a scientist in Antarctica, and brought along Antarctica clothing for the students to try on.
Teacher Phil Innes said the visit went really well. “Phil was so organised with Antarctica clothing, and then spent 20 minutes doing experiments with water and lots of lab equipment. The children were really interested to see a real live scientist at work with equipment."
Combined Food Technology / Health & PE project
Technology ( Food ) | Years 11-13 | Waikato region | March 2017
Food technologist Ari Penberthy from Prolife Foods gave a presentation about new product development to Year 11 Food Technology students at Rototuna Senior High School. Afterwards, Ari and the students made baked oaty slices using dough he had brought from work.
Food Technology teacher Jenny Mangan and Health & PE teacher Anna-Marie Keighley are collaborating on a combined Food Technology/Health & PE project. Students will develop a food product to provide appropriate nutrition before, during or after an adventure race they will be participating in.
Jenny says the students learnt about what is involved in the process of developing a new product in industry from the early stages of coming up with new ideas. "Through the hands-on activity they experienced how the oaty bars are formed when they are trialling new formulations on a small scale, and how consistency in the size and shape of the bar can be achieved."
Starting high school with science careers
Science; Careers | Years 9-10 | Christchurch region | March 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, Lincoln High School's Science department ran a Careers in Science unit for all Year 9 students. The initiative aims to capture student interest in science at an early stage and address their often limited perceptions of what the science they're learning can be used for in the 'real world'.
Students started the unit by browsing the Futureintech website and printed brochures to find out what careers build on physics, chemistry and biology knowledge. They also looked at the different industries that employ people with technology, engineering and science skills.
Ambassadors representing different career pathways (this year they were engineers or scientists) visited the school, with each pair going to one of the 11 classes. They talked to students about their jobs, the challenges and rewards, and how to forge a pathway into an exciting, meaningful and well paid career that will be in demand into the future.
"They were fantastic speakers as always," says Science teacher Rose Travis. "They certainly inspired students in both my classes to think about career options involving science."
Starting the year with women scientists and engineers
Science; Careers | Years 9-10 | Central/West Auckland region | March 2017
In the first few weeks of the school year, all 200 students starting in Year 9 at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School met a woman whose job involves the real world use of science.
Structural engineer Karina Kaufusi from Beca, civil engineer Ying Yang from Mott MacDonald, former Plant & Food Research scientist Laura Ward and clinical research associate Mrinal Murali from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare covered the eight science classes. Each student also received a Futureintech brochure about science-rich careers and a matching activity sheet.
“When students arrive in Year 9 they have a wide range of backgrounds in terms of their understanding of science. So we start with class discussions about ‘what is science?’, ‘what isn’t it?’, ‘why is it important?, and ‘what is a scientist?’,” explains Head of Science Michal Denny.
“Asking the girls to ‘draw a scientist’ overwhelmingly produces pictures of old men in white coats with crazy hair. Further questioning reveals that the male scientists they’ve drawn are European in ethnicity and are busy ‘blowing things up in labs’.
“We wanted to address these narrow perceptions right at the beginning of the year so I said to Futureintech that I’d love to have some young female scientists talk to our girls. Having engineers talk reinforces the idea it isn’t all about being in a lab – that science happens in lots of different places.”
From left to right: Laura Ward, Mrinal Murali, Ying Yang and Karina Kaufusi.
Flying Fox Challenge: Year 7-10 Maths resource
Mathematics | Years 9-10 | Christchurch region | January 2017
Two Year 10 Maths classes at Opihi College used their knowledge of maths and forces to complete the Futureintech Year 7-10 Flying Fox Challenge. This resource was developed to students how the maths they’re learning is applied in jobs such as surveying and engineering.
Surveyor William Ching from Timaru District Council visited the school for the first session. After talking about his role at the council, he discussed contour maps and had the students draw the contours of a potato. They also calculated the height of the school building using trigonometry.
Theresa Allan, a structural engineer from GHD, took the second session. She explained what she does in her job, then the students carried out calculations related to forces. William returned for the final session in which students designed their flying fox.
Teacher Anne Griffiths said “The students were enthusiastic in their efforts to design their flying foxes. It was a great opportunity for them to work collaboratively and there were many creative solutions to the problem. I developed a Level 1 NCEA Mathematics assessment around this flying fox scenario. Having completed this practical, all the students could understand the context of the assessment.”
Linking classroom activities to science in the real world
Science ( Biology ) | Years 7-8 Years 9-10 | Waikato region | January 2017
Year 7-9 students at Berkley Normal Middle School took part in the Term 4 Science elective aimed at exposing them to what science looks like in the workplace and getting them excited about science.
Scientist Nicola King from ESR, who was the second Ambassador to take part in the elective, visited for a session about microbiology. She talked to students about what she does in her job, then had them swab objects around the room. The students plated their samples on agar petri dishes and looked at them under a microscope. They also placed their fingers on agar plates to see how clean their hands were; these were left for a couple of days so the bacteria could grow. Following this activity, the students looked at yeast under a microscope.
Teacher Sarah Bogan says Nicola captured the students’ attention with her presentation and engaged them in a discussion about science and how the activities linked to science in the real world.
“All the students were enthusiastic about the set task and the content Nicola covered. She engaged them in their learning – they were still buzzing about the lesson when they next came to the science room.”
The Caretaker's Swimming Pool Temperature App
Technology ( Electronics ) | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | January 2017
Four students at Kirkwood Intermediate designed and built an electronic sensor and mobile app to free the school’s caretaker from taking hourly manual readings of the swimming pool’s temperature.
Electrical engineer Chris Baddock from MWH mentored the team and guided them through the product development process. The students started with meeting their client – the caretaker – to establish what he wanted from the project and how the temperature information would be presented to him.
They decided on a smartphone app that updated in real time and could be checked even when the caretaker wasn’t on the school grounds.
The team then researched and analysed different varying measurement techniques before designing their electronic device. It included components to measure, process and display the temperature data locally, and a Wi-Fi module to transmit the data.
During the construction and testing phase the group entered their work in the Canterbury-Westland Science and Technology Fair, where they gained a merit award form Statistics New Zealand for ‘Excellent use of statistics in a science project’.
“Chris made the learning as practical as possible, with students testing design ideas and making modifications to improve performance,” says teacher Julie Anderson “He also discussed the impact an engineering career can have on improving the quality of individual, family and community lives.
“I was amazed at the visible personal growth of the students during the project. They gained confidence as they volunteered for various roles and spoke to adults. Students learnt more than problem-solving – it also involved ways to make and how to justify a decision, how to design solutions, the importance of stakeholder feedback, and working to a budget.”
Photo caption: Students show their prize at the Canterbury-Westland Science and Technology Fair.
Learning about oceanography
Science ( Physics ) | Years 7-8 | South/East Auckland region | January 2017
Coastal scientist Kirstyn Goodger, from Beca, returned to her old school, Farm Cove Intermediate, to talk to Year 7-8 students about science in the real world.
The class was involved in a week-long Science Intensive which included investigating the environmental issue of ocean pollution. Most had heard of the great Pacific Garbage Patch but did not know how it came about.
Kirstyn talked about what she does in her job then did some experiments linked to her presentation on ocean currents. The students were interested to see that salt water added to fresh water sank to the bottom because of its higher density – and that the cold water could be from 500 years ago!
Students said they particularly liked learning about how the ocean works, the ‘global conveyer belt’ of large-scale water circulation (including the formation of ocean gyres) and seeing how it worked in the experiments.
Teacher Lynn Dunbar says it was a great success. “The students were very engaged and really enjoyed learning about something that most had not thought about before."
Plenty more fish in the sea
Technology ( Food ) | Years 11-13 | Dunedin region | January 2017
Tanyaradzwa E Mungure from the University of Otago mentored two students working on a Student Product Development Challenge with a sustainability focus. The Year 12 and 10 students aimed to recover more flesh from discarded commercially processed blue cod fish frames than is currently done, and develop a commercially viable food product.
They researched methods for recovering additional flesh then trialled doing this by hand, recovering an average of 25 to 35% flesh – the same as mechanised fish recovery methods used in industry. The students discussed their concepts for using the fish with Ta, and decided to develop fish sausages. They created two recipes and conducted sensory evaluation testing to determine which sausage was preferred.
The students were awarded first prize in the Waikato and South Island section of the challenge.
Food Technology teacher Heather Brown says the students’ enthusiasm was boundless. “Working on the Challenge with a mentor helped them improve their planning and evaluation skills, problem-solving and research and documentation skills. They also learnt the protocols around communicating with tertiary-level experts and industry professionals.”
Learning how the digitech curriculum relates to industry
Technology ( Digital ) | Years 11-13 | Christchurch region | January 2017
Spencer Travers, an embedded design engineer at Trimble, had visited the Middleton Grange School 13 Digital Technologies class in 2015. He spoke to the students about his job and how he uses the waterfall and agile methodologies. “He had an excellent presentation,” says teacher Patrick Baker, “which thoroughly engaged the students, and gave them heaps of the right material for their reports.”
Patrick requested a repeat curriculum-related talk for the 2016 cohort. Spencer again talked about working in the software industry and how those methodologies are used.
A few days later the class visited e-commerce provider eStar, to get an industry perspective of the full capability of an online retail service – from website design through to the logistics of tracking and delivering the good.
The students were split into two groups for the visit. Software developer Andrew Grieve and software development manager and design lead Dena Emanuel discussed their roles and introduced the students to people working in other areas of the organisation.
Come dressed as your future career
Careers | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | January 2017
180 Year 7 and 8 students at Marian Catholic Primary School were involved in a school careers day which included dressing up as their ‘future career’. Six of our Ambassadors visited, each doing a 45-minute careers presentation and an activity twice, so that the six classes could hear from an engineer and a food technologist.
Environmental engineer Andrew Tipene and civil engineer Tim Kuek, both from AECOM, and structural engineer Adam Langsford, from BCD Group, talked to students about what they do in their roles and ran a pipe cleaner tower challenge.
Food technologists Christina Ferrick, from Open Country Dairy, Louise Tolenaars, from Dairy Goat Cooperative, and Ari Penberthy, from Prolife Food, also talked about their jobs and did a food science activity with the students. All the Ambassadors said it was a positive experience and they had a lot of fun working with the students.
Associate principal Kerrie Martin was impressed with their efforts and is planning more visits in 2017. “Our students enjoyed hearing about the Ambassadors’ study pathways and work experiences, and how what they do links to the ‘big picture’.
“The students were enthusiastic and engaged – there was a perfect balance between talking, questions and hands-on activities. The activities were pitched at the right level, requiring cooperation and collaboration.”
What is hydrophobicity?
Science ( Chemistry ) | Years 1-6 | Central/West Auckland region | January 2017
After a visit from biochemist Laura Domigan, a research fellow at the University of Auckland, Year 1 to 3 students at Massey Primary School could understand and explain hydrophobicity*.
They had been studying aspects of the Living World and Nature of Science strands. Team leader Anna Watkin asked Laura to speak to three different groups of students (180 altogether) about being a scientist and how she uses biochemistry in her everyday work.
Laura talked to the students about her job, explaining why she wears protective clothing and sharing some of the exciting things she has been involved in. She then did some experiments, mixing oil and water and watching the phases separate. With the help of volunteers from the class, she investigated which phase could be used to dissolve food colouring and which to dissolve M&M's.
Anna says the students were very engaged in the lesson. “They were captivated; it was something new and different and all were keen to interact and join in the discussion and activities.”
*In chemistry, a hydrophobic substance is one that repels water.