More than 70 students from four Adelaide high schools flocked to Flinders University on Thursday, September 22, to showcase their science skills.
Students from the Australian Science and Mathematics School, Norwood Morialta High School, Eastern Fleurieu School and Cornerstone College converged on the campus for the second annual Flinders Science Investigation Awards – a science research competition for students in Years 6-12.
The Science Investigation Awards (SIA) are run by the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE), a national program which establishes partnerships between schools and universities across Australia, including Flinders, with the wider aim of attracting students into tertiary science and increasing the number of skilled professionals in the primary industries sector.
As a PICSE Activity Centre, Flinders held its first SIA competition in 2010 with 34 primary school students, and has now grown this year to include more than 70 students across Years 7-12 entering 46 research projects.
Projects on show at the awards, held in the University’s Science Innovation Learning Centre, include ‘Mentos and Soft Drink, Who Will Win?’ from a team of Year 7 students, ‘River Water vs Rain Water’ from a group of Year 8s and ‘Is Hearing Age-Related?’ in the senior category.
During the event, students present their research in poster form and field questions from a team of roving judges including Dr Paul Willis, Director of the Royal Institute Australia, as well as various other industry representatives and University staff.
Students are also involved in a range of science activities throughout the day, showcasing some of the many resources and cutting-edge technologies in Flinders’ Faculty of Science and Engineering, before gathering for an official awards ceremony in the afternoon.
PICSE Flinders Science Education Officer Sylvia Toelken said the competition encourages high school students to enjoy all things science by allowing them to plan, investigate and conduct hands-on science experiments on a topic of their choice.
She said the awards are also a great way to support young people in the early stages of their journey from secondary and tertiary studies to a successful career in science.
“The awards foster enthusiasm and a general love of science across all year levels,” Ms Toelken said.
“Yet we also run an Industry Placement Scholarship that supports senior students with an interest in science to explore careers and tertiary pathways related to primary industries.”
Australian Science and Mathematics School Year 11 students Kelly Guthberlet and Dylan Vandeleur (pictured) – who presented a poster on the efficiency of a recurve bow – said the awards are a great chance to meet like-minded students from other local schools.
“It’s really interesting to see what other people have done, and by the looking around the room there’s a really diverse mix of research,” Kelly, 17, said.
“It’s good because it allows you to be creative in science.”