History, people, shipwrecks, current events, Southland and further afield … this year’s Southland Social Sciences Fair had 286 exhibits on show at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club this week.
The fair is into its 15th year, and chairman Lloyd Esler said people of all ages, from “kindergarten children to old folks’ home” residents, had visited the extensive exhibition.
“It’s always a fantastic opportunity to learn.”
Mr Esler, a noted local historian, also said he “had picked up lots of bits of history when” he looked at the exhibits.
“It’s a great learning tool.”
Fionn Fitzsimons’ was one of the many exhibits which caught his attention.
Fionn had been enrolled as part of the Growing Up in NZ project when he was a foetus in 2009, while living in the Waikato, before he and his family moved to Invercargill.
His exhibit explained 7000 participants were enrolled in the project, which recorded all the factors that influenced upbringing and how it affected them in later life.
“In 2009, he was the youngest interviewee at minus-three months,” Mr Esler said.
This year, the furthest exhibit came from Perth, Western Australia.
Along with members of her family, Kaylee Chin had taken part in the recent unveiling of composer and musician Alex Lithgow’s bronze statue near Invercargill’s Civic Theatre.
Her great, great grandfather, Alex Lithgow was the composer of the Invercargill March, which is still performed around the world.
“I had met Kaylee and her family at the unveiling and suggested she send an exhibit to the fair,” Mr Esler said.
She did so, by email, submitting an overview of Lithgow’s life.
Mr Esler was also encouraged by the number of entries from Arrowtown School – 27.
They added another dimension to the fair and informed Southlanders about topics which they would not normally think about, he said.
One entry, by Solomon Phoon, was about cabbage trees.
“It stood out,” Mr Esler said. “He knew all the answers, and did all his own drawings.”
Closer to home, pupils from Stewart Island and Limehills schools had exhibited at every fair, and were always of a high standard, he said.
Mr Esler was keen for more schools and pupils to take part in the fair and also to attract a major sponsor.
“If the public knew how interesting it was, then more of them would come and look.”
-By Janette Gellatly
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