Lectures, tutorials and giant catapults.
It’s not the toolbox for every university student, but it is for Rebecca Fitzgerald.
The University of Canterbury postgraduate student will spend Wednesday launching rocks with her giant catapult in front of an international film crew.
The Discovery Channel crew is heading to the university to film Ms Fitzgerald using her contraption to catapult rocks about 100 metres.
It’s all in the name of science though, with staff and students looking to learn about the impacts of volcanic rocks during an eruption.
The experiment, using a pneumatic cannon, demonstrates how drag varies as spinning rock and magma fly through the air from a volcano and will be used to test the hypothesis that it is better to face an eruption rather than run from it.
“The cannon investigates how much shrapnel is produced when the rock impacts the different ground surfaces and what is the consequence on human injury or death,” geologist Dr Ben Kennedy said.
The experiment stems from Ms Fitzgerald’s mapping of the craters produced by flying rocks in the eruption of Mt Tongariro in August 2012.
“It was quite scary to see the damage these flying rocks had done to sections of the Tongariro Crossing hiking trail and the holes ripped through the Ketatahi hut,” Dr Kennedy said.
The Discovery channel will also film the university’s rover robot which inspects damage to piles under earthquake-damaged buildings and a quadcopter which inspects clifftop quake-affected homes.
A Discovery channel spokesman said the university research will be aired within the next month.