Science ‘in the bush’ excites school students

Published 14 August 2008

cameron.jpgMore than 300 secondary students visited the University of New England today for a practical scientific program that included working with robots and stone tools, investigating swamp creatures and chemical compounds, and much more.

The students, in Years 8-10, came from 11 secondary schools in Inverell Gunnedah, Walcha, Warialda, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Uralla and Armidale.

This was the sixth of UNE’s annual “Science in the Bush” events, scheduled each year as a contribution to National Science Week. The coordinator of “Science in the Bush”, Dr Chris Fellows from UNE Chemistry, said the day was designed to show students from regional schools that UNE – a regional university – was a centre of cutting-edge scientific activity. “Science is the key to our future,” Dr Fellows said, “and we want to help these young people experience something of the excitement that the pursuit of science – ‘in the bush’ as well as in the city – can bring.”

There was plenty of that excitement in today’s program, which included activities such as “The RoboBug Obstacle Challenge”, “Out of the Swamp!”, “The Wildlife Biologist Challenge”, “The Nature of Consciousness”, and “The Chemistry Fire and Brimstone Show!”

The program also included some activities new to “Science in the Bush” this year, such as adventures in palaeontology, thermal imaging and blood typing, and – in UNE’s new School of Rural Medicine – studies of anatomical models in conjunction with CT-scan and X-ray images. An activity presented by Rhonda Davey from CSIRO’s McMaster Laboratory near Armidale enabled students to investigate egg fertilisation and embryo development, and a chemistry lecture by UNE’s Dr Peter Lye gave them fresh insights into phenomena of energy transformation such as those observed in chemical reactions.

“Science in the Bush” 2008 was sponsored by UNE’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, CSIRO, and the Australian Poultry Cooperative Research Centre.