Learn from lemonade at Science in the Park

11 March 2007

Lemonade and factory wastewater don't sound related – but if you come to Scion's Science in the Park later this month you might just learn about a common process linking the two.

Science in the Park is a free open day for members of the public to learn about what Scion does. On Saturday March 24 everyone is invited to explore Scion and check out displays as diverse as measuring the smell of your burp, setting up a worm farm and uncovering the story behind leaky homes.

At the open day Scion's scientists will be handing out lemonade and ginger ale they've brewed themselves to teach the public all about the magic of microbes and how they can be used to not only make drinks – but also clean up wastewater.

Scion scientist Garrick Thorn says micro-organisms,such as bacteria and yeasts, are used in everyday products like fermented beverages – including ginger beer, beer and spirits – and pharmaceuticals.

"But at Scion we take that a step further and use bacteria to do useful things such as cleaning up wastewater and creating environmentally-friendly plastic," he says.

"We'll have posters on display explaining our work into wastewater and we will encourage people to ask questions about how it all works. We'll also have samples of the plastics we make from wastewater bacteria on show."

Mr Thorn says most people don't realise how important bacteria is and the diverse role it can play.

"Bacteria are used in many ways to benefit our lives. They are not as bad as they are often made out to be.

"Our work is mainly involved in finding innovative ways of treating wastewater from pulp and paper mills. It doesn't sound like it has anything to do with lemonade – but it's the same concept – using microbes to change what is in the water," Mr Thorn says.

Science in the Park is open to all members of the public and includes displays, careers expo, a future farming roadshow, guided tours and seminars for teachers. The Open Day is located at Scion, Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, 49 Sala St, Rotorua.