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Shepard tables – these rectangles are the same size. Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

On 10 June, a group of Māori Year 11 students and their whānau came to SOVS as part of a programme organised by the Whakapiki Ake Project team, to encourage Māori students to investigate careers within the applied sciences and inspire them to be role models amongst their peers and whānau.

The session began with Professional Teaching Fellow (PTF) Zaria Bradley giving a speech on Optometry as a career option, followed by Senior Research Fellow Jason Turuwhenua, PhD Student Yadi Chen, and Senior Lecturer Dr Misha Vorobyev performing interactive demonstrations about myopia (near or short-sightedness).  The demonstration took place in the multi- disciplinary lab and included a discussion about connecting physics to sight and life.

Professor Steven Dakin talked about the importance of the brain in vision including a demonstration of the Shepard tabletop illusion. The demonstration shows that a pair of identical parallelograms appear radically different depending on the orientation, and illustrates the importance of visual perception in a simple yet engaging way.

The Whakapiki Ake programme plays an invaluable role in encouraging and inspiring young Maori to pursue a career in Optometry.  With the added incentive of two scholarships (He Rau Aroha) being available for up to $10,000 per annum each for the Bachelor of Optometry, we look forward to seeing eyecare outcomes in the future improve for their whānau.