UNE science camp goes off with a bang

Published 14 January 2009

Budding young scientists have taken over labs at the University of New England. UNE siemens.JPGscientists are sharing their knowledge with local school students, for three days of hands-on fun.

The annual Siemens Science Experience is a national program that gives students entering Year 10 in 2009 a taste of the exciting potential of a career in science and the vital role of scientists in today’s society.

Dr Jim McFarlane, the director of the Siemens Science Experience program at UNE, said the event had been a success. Around twenty students from twelve local towns and cities have taken part in the program. It is a massive boost for the students. It allows them to meet professional scientists and to work with them in laboratories equipped with cutting-edge technology Dr McFarlane said.

PLC Armidale student, Alinta Merrotsy, says the camp has given her a chance to explore all science has to offer. 'I loved doing the hands-on stuff such as dissecting hearts and kidneys and learning about DNA profiling and how to make Aspirin. When I finish school I think I want to study medicine or veterinary science, so this has been a great experience', she said.

For Emily Graham, from Macintyre High School in Inverell, science has always stood out as her favoured subject. 'I like both the practical and theoretical sides of science. I want to get into DNA and crime scene investigation when I finish school, so I really enjoyed learning more about these areas and taking part in the practical sessions', she explained.

This summer’s Experience at UNE ran from the 13th to the 15th of January. The students laboratory work included investigations in a range of scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, biology, robotics, and physiology. They also attend lectures by some of UNE’s most distinguished scientists – lectures with titles such as “The life of birds”, “The code of life” and “A chemist’s view of energy”.

Along with their scientific adventure, the students have gained valuable experience of life on a university campus, by staying in a student residence and, in the evenings, enjoying games and sporting activities. 'We hope the experience will inspire at least some of the students to pursue scientific studies through to tertiary level and even to aim at careers in science', added Dr McFarlane.

The program is conducted at 36 universities in association with local Rotary clubs, and with the support of Young Scientists of Australia and the Australian Science Teachers’ Association.

THIS PHOTOGRAPH expands to show student participants alongside UNE Chemistry Senior Lecturer, Dr Chris Fellows.