Science rocks Albany’s foundations

Almost 200 Year 10 students from 10 schools across the Great Southern took the opportunity to hear first-hand wisdom, ask questions and check out some of the latest discoveries and inventions in the scientific community.

Science Rocks’ convenor Louise Duxbury said research has found a link between a lack of information and real experience about science in rural areas, to a lower level of participation by rural students in further science studies. 

“The Great Southern Science Council, with the partners and sponsors in the Science Rocks forum, wanted to fill this gap through inspiration from multiple scientists sharing their passion for science with local students, hence, the idea for Science Rocks was developed’, Ms Duxbury said.

‘It was incredibly successful with students from as far away as Katanning and Gnowangerup attending the event.”

To kick the day off local scientist Jacqui Foster outlined her own story from seaweed farming, to the kelp forests of Tasmania to chasing krill in the Antarctic and rhinoceros’ in Zimbabwe and finally to community education programs through South Coast NRM.

Gary Cass, aka The Crazy Scientist, emphasized the importance of creativity in the sciences and encouraged students to ask questions and think outside the box. His demonstration of fashion garments from wine and tracking your DNA through music had students intrigued.

More than 13 local scientists’ practicing in marine, terrestrial and freshwater biology, health, engineering, agriculture, natural resource management, archaeology and more, provided cameo presentations about why they love what they do and offered students the chance to sit in small Q & A sessions to respond to individual questions.

The day was kept rolling by MC Jason Addis, youth worker and psychology student who, like the local scientists, volunteered his time.

The forum was science in action, with upcoming Year 11 and 12 students on the verge of making learning pathway decisions having a whole day to expand their understanding of what choosing a science career might mean to them.

Practical demonstrations of science included fish research and dissections and introduction to medical skills including plastering.

SciTech wowed students with the intricate and mesmerizing ability of a 3D printer, and a motion controlled, digitally enabled game called ‘Johan Sebastian Joust’.

The WA Museum ‘Who Dunnart?’ display encouraged students to follow a chain of clues to investigate the predators of our small marsupial population, while the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management UWA helped students Microblitz experiments to assist understanding of science through DNA extraction from strawberries.

This inaugural event was made possible through the hard work of Green Skills and Great Southern Science Council’s Louise Duxbury, South Coast NRM community engagement p[oject officer Jacqui Foster, WA Museum Albany’s Peter Pritchard and Rachael Wilsher-Saa, Great Southern Employment Development Committee’s Terry Duke, Great Southern Science Council project officer Kath Gray, with early input from Great Southern Science Council’s Helena Stoakley and  Mt Barker Community College Associate Principal Lindsay Campbell.

Essential funding was made available through South Coast NRM, Inspiring Australia,  WA Museum Albany, Green Skills, Great Southern Employment Development Committee, Regional Development Australia, the City of Albany and water and gifts from the Water Corporation, Mt Romance and Paperbark Merchants.