School students inspired by UNE science experience

Published 11 January 2011

scienceexHigh-school students from a dozen towns and cities across northern NSW are gaining a hands-on “science experience” in University of New England laboratories this week.

The students, who all have a keen interest in science, are preparing to enter Year 10 or Year 11 in 2011. From Tuesday 11 to Thursday 13 January they are taking part in “The Science Experience”, a national program coordinated by the Science Schools Foundation.

UNE is one of about 30 universities around Australia involved in the program, which is designed to provide students with an opportunity to engage in a wide range of science-based activities under the guidance of scientists who love their work.

The students have travelled to UNE from Armidale, Ashford, Barraba, Bundarra, Camden Haven, Casino, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Inverell, Muswellbrook, Uralla, and Woolgoolga. They are conducting experiments in chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, pharmacy, physiology, and musical acoustics, and listening to entertaining talks by UNE scientists – including several on forensic science.

Most of them are staying at UNE’s Mary White College.

“They’re all really engaged and interested,” said UNE’s Dr Linda Agnew, who was guiding the students through some activities in the culture and observation of microorganisms. “We hope we’ll be able to inspire them to go on studying science.”

“They’re also gaining a broader educational experience through exposure to equipment and techniques that aren’t generally available in schools,” Dr Agnew said.

“My brother and his friend came here for The Science Experience last year,” said Amy Luckett from Ashford Central School, “and my best friend came the year before. They all said it was really good, so I thought I’d give it a go.” Amy, in her turn, has found the experience “really interesting”.

Some of the students have already formed ambitions to follow specific career paths in science – including pharmacy, psychology, agricultural science, veterinary science, and forensic science. Maddison Lusty and Hannah Marshall from Coffs Harbour High School said they were both particularly interested in the forensic science components of the program, adding: “That’s why we came.” Others, like Timothy Van Dalsen from South Grafton High School, are pursuing a more general interest in science. “It’s broadening my horizons,” Timothy said.

For more information on The Science Experience, go to: http://www.scienceexperience.com.au/.