Realise The Dream logo. Click through for image source.I am delighted to announce that the Embassy will begin participating in the annual  Realise the Dream science competition by establishing the American Ambassador Outstanding Award.

Realise the Dream is a national event sponsored by Genesis Energy and the Royal Society of New Zealand which acknowledges and celebrates the finest scientific research and technology development undertaken by secondary school students in New Zealand.

I attended the annual awards program last year at Government House at the invitation of my friend Dr. Di McCarthy, the Royal Society’s Chief Executive. I was thoroughly impressed with the calibre of the students and the quality of projects selected as finalists. It was an inspiring evening, made all the better by the enthusiasm of the students for the research they had undertaken.

Although clearly great fun, the competition is also serious, sophisticated business. The judging is expert and rigorous, and the awards are highly selective. There is the Genesis Energy Supreme Award, a couple of Outstanding Awards, and then several travel and monetary awards. Our Embassy participation adds another Outstanding Award to the prizes available for the best of the best.

To further deepen the extensive science ties between our two countries and to raise the international visibility of the winner, we have structured our new award as a trip to the United States to represent New Zealand in the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-university science competition. Each year Intel ISEF provides a forum for more than 1,500 high school students from about 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research.

The Governor-General, Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae with 2011 participants. Click through for image source.

Last year’s Realise the Dream finalists with Governor-General Lt. Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir Jerry Mateparae (center), Chief Executive Di McCarthy, and Lady Mateparae.

I’m having one of my science days today. When I finish writing this piece, I’ll be suiting up and heading over to the Christchurch Geodome for the opening of this year’s Antarctic season, the most well-known touchstone of the U.S.-N.Z. science collaboration. From my blog posts of November/December 2010 and February 2012, you know just how exciting and impactful our cooperation on the Ice is.

Our bilateral science collaboration, however, extends far beyond Antarctica. I’ve also discussed previously the Global Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, the U.S.-N.Z. Joint Commission on Science & Technology Cooperation, renewable energy projects, the Solar Decathlon, Mars Camp, Vex Robotics competition, the activities in New Zealand of companies such as Intel and Oracle, and many other cross-border science and technology stories.

With the launch of the American Ambassador Outstanding Award, we hope to add more good news to that long and exciting narrative. I’m looking forward to tracking the contributions made by the winners of the Award as they move from secondary school to university and then out into their careers. From what I saw last year, there is reason for great optimism.

Entries on display from 2011. Click through for image source.

Displays summarizing finalists’ projects in last year’s competition.

For more information about the competition and the educational opportunities associated therewith, students, teachers, and parents can check out the Realise the Dream website, which also explains the entry and nomination process. As I understand it, nominations close on October 12th, which is fast approaching. Judges will then narrow the field to 20 finalists.

The winners — including the first American Ambassador Outstanding Award winner — will be announced at a ceremony a couple months thereafter. I plan to attend and will report back to you on the highlights of the evening.

Stay tuned.