UNE scientists impressed with school students’ projects

Published 14 September 2012

Scientists at the University of New England were impressed with the science investigation projects of more than 170 secondary students who displayed their work at the University this week.

The students travelled to UNE from about 20 schools around the New England North West region, bringing poster presentations of their projects with them.  The UNE scientists judged the posters, and the winners received cash prizes ranging from $100 to $600. Prize money also goes to the winning students’ schools.

The posters had intriguing titles such as “Which natural gluten-free flour has the best rising properties?”, “Does storage method affect the amount of Vitamin C in oranges?”, and “Are certain insects attracted to specific colours?”. “What we saw exceeded my expectations,” said UNE’s Associate Professor Lewis Kahn, who was one of the judges.

The annual Science Investigation Awards is an event conducted nationally by the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE) and locally through the PICSE activity centre at UNE. “The UNE PICSE Science Investigation Awards enables students to share their individual science projects with their peers from other schools, and with scientists,” said Susanna Greig, PICSE Science Education Officer at UNE.

“First trialled in 2009, the event is now in its fourth year,” Ms Greig said. “We were delighted to work with the 175 students presenting this year – many more than the 27 in the first year. We’re also delighted to have watched sponsorship grow from $400 in 2009 to $5,300 this year. This prize money is directed in its entirety to the students and schools with award-winning projects.”

Rachel Roan, from PLC Armidale, experimented with the effect of water from six different sources on the growth of oats and red clover. She found that dam and river water produced better results than water from other sources, including town tap water and tank water.

Rachel won the Encouragement Award in the Senior Scientist (Years 9/10) Division. “It’s been very interesting meeting everyone else and seeing what they’ve done,” she said. “There’s such a great variety of projects. I’m interested in science and – coming from a farm – particularly in agriculture.”

Patrick Anderton, from St Mary’s College, Gunnedah, won the Encouragement Award in the Junior Scientist (Years 7/8) Division.

Senior Scientist of the Year awards went to Xavier Dean, Duval High, Armidale (1st), Holly Ashworth, PLC Armidale (2nd), Lauren MacRae, McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth (3rd). Junior Scientist of the Year: Angus Gasbarri, Duval High (1st), Sarah Skinner, Kimberly Gunther & Jasmine Maxwell, Glen Innes High (2nd), John Kirk, Farrer Memorial Agricultural High (3rd). Best Primary Industry Themed Project: Lynden Smith, Farrer High (1st), Austin Youman, Guyra Central (2nd), Erin Bourke, Duval High (3rd).  New Schools Ian Potter Award (Senior): Alice Bowler, Calrossy Anglican School, Tamworth (1st), Alison Korn, Gunnedah High, (2nd). New Schools Ian Potter Award (Junior): Taya Heagney & Jamaica Sparks, Glen Innes High (1st), Rhys Phillips & Darren York, Barraba Central (2nd).

Emily Hamilton from Calrossy Anglican School won the School of Environmental and Rural Science Special Award, and the Students’ Choice Awards went to Jacob Linich from Carinya Christian School and Riley Baile from The Armidale School.

The photograph displayed here expands to show Angus Gasbarri from Duval High School with the prize-winning poster presenting his investigation into the effects of acid rain on plants.