Project21, developed by the University’s Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century (Science21) and Airborne Research Australia (ARA), supports students undertaking the SACE Research Project.
The project has been funded for more than two years through a $1 million education grant from the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Space Research Program – one of only two education projects in Australia to receive the $1 million award.
Senator for South Australia Alexander Gallacher officially unveiled Project21 at Parafield Airport on September 27 , coinciding with a day of teaching and learning for more than 100 students who kicked off their projects at the launch.
Secondary students from schools across Adelaide will devise a real-life issue to investigate, and then plan a mission to collect their data using remote sensing technologies and a high-tech aircraft flown by Airborne Research Australia, based in Flinders’ School of the Environment.
Science21 Director Professor Martin Westwell said Project21 allows students to undertake authentic, relevant research and produce a real outcome that could be of “great use” to South Australian scientists.
“Students will determine the flight path and remote sensing equipment they want carried on board the ARA plane, such as thermal imaging and 3D mapping, before analysing, interpreting and presenting their findings as student-researchers,” Professor Westwell said.
“The data collected, for example, could provide the foundations for improving our city’s energy efficiency.”
Up to 400 students are expected to take part in Project21 during the next two years, including about 70 students who were involved in a pilot in June.
Local scientists are also encouraged to submit topic suggestions to an electronic Directory of Issues and utilise the students’ findings for their own research purposes.
Professor Westwell said Project21 is an important pathway into tertiary education, making the most of the opportunities afforded by the Research Project in the SACE.
“The program not only supports schools to make science more accessible and engaging, it introduces students to cutting-edge, scientific research through an internationally-recognised centre for earth-observation technology that ultimately sets them up for future learning at university or elsewhere,” Professor Westwell said.
Henley High School Year 10 student Victoria Langton took part in the pilot project and is now at the analysing stage of her research into the thermal efficiency of Adelaide buildings based on their age.
Victoria, 15, said she is enjoying the opportunity to lead a genuine research investigation and produce real-life solutions.
“I’ve been able to direct the research myself and make all the decisions rather than just following what someone else has done,” Victoria said.
“It’s been great because we’ve been able to access high-tech aircrafts and sensors to gather data that will help answer a real-life South Australian question.”