The pursuit of science can lead to a rewarding career in primary industries- that’s the message fifteen senior science students from secondary schools in Armidale, Tamworth, Gunnedah and Warialda are hearing thanks to a local program run by the University of New England.
The students are receiving a taste of what a career in primary industries has to offer. The local program, managed by Susanna Greig and Associate Professor Robin Jessop at the University of New England, is part of a national plan conducted by the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE).
The students, each of them a recipient of a PICSE Industry Placement Scholarship, attended the PICSE Science to Industry Camp from the 5th to the 9th of January. Sam Adams, who is this year entering Year 12 at The Armidale School, said the camp helped to confirm a career in primary industries was what he wanted. "This has been a great experience and I have met a lot of good people. It has backed up the fact that I want to study Agronomy at UNE once I finish school" he said.
As part of the fun the students visited primary industries and agricultural research laboratories in Armidale, Tamworth, Walcha and Glen Innes. ‘The camp has been a great success’ Ms Greig said. ‘Students visited a number of agricultural research organisations and some award-winning primary industries, learning about the science that supports those industries.’
‘The highlight for me was looking at animal digestion, genetics and breeding. We took gastric juice extracts from sheep and examined microbes under the microscope’ said 17 year old Warialda High School student, Tiffany Hunt. ‘When I finish school I want to study Agriculture or Rural Science and the courses at UNE are definitely looking good’ she added.
In addition to attending the camp, each student will complete a five-day industry placement, working in primary industries or with agricultural research scientists between the 12th and the 23rd of January. ‘To wrap up the scholarship program,’ Ms Greig said, ‘they will return to UNE on the 9th of February to offer presentations outlining their Industry Placement Scholarship experiences.’
As part of the local PICSE program for 2008-2009, science teachers from the New England North West region took part in a ‘Teacher Professional Development’ event in September, visiting many of the laboratories and industries involved.
The PICSE program was established By Dr David Russell from the University of Tasmania in 1999. The NSW hub was established at UNE in 2007-08 and, following its initial success, the program has now been expanded to include more schools and industries throughout the region.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show the students who are taking part in the PICSE event, along with Susanna Greig (second from the right) who is managing the program.