Students switch on for science
STUDENTS across Queensland are putting their scientific minds to work as a part of this year's inaugural Science for Growth Awards.
The students are investigating everything from youth pain tolerance to alternative products for household insulation.
An initiative of the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE) and sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, the Science for Growth Awards encourage students in years nine and 10 to choose a science topic they would like to investigate, then develop a hypothesis and carry out experiments to answer their questions.
With plans to expand the awards to all Australian schools in 2013, Dow AgroSciences' sponsorship reflects their mission to encourage Australia's next generation of bright young scientists to pursue careers in agriculture.
"To overcome the growing skills shortage facing Australia's agricultural sector, we need to engage students in science at a high school level," Dr. Matt Cahill, Dow AgroSciences' Research and Development Leader, said.
"The entries to date have been impressive and give me great confidence that Australia's ag industry has a very bright future ahead."
Year 10 entrant Rachel Rognoni, from Centenary Heights State School in Toowoomba, said her investigation into pain tolerance thresholds in youth was inspired after reading a magazine article.
"I read a study that said the pain tolerance of kids in hospital increases when they are playing video games because they're distracted," Rachel said.
"It made me wonder if other distractions could do the same thing so I initiated a control test with a fellow student and then conducted several variable tests to trial my hypothesis.
"Firstly, I put my volunteer's feet in a bucket of ice water and told her to hold them there as long as she could. I repeated the experiment, adding a range of distractions and timing how long it took her to pull her feet out."
The distractions included playing video games, reading, having a conversation, listening to music and solving a mathematical equation.
"The music and the video game were definitely the most effective at increasing her pain tolerance, but all of the distractions increased her tolerance, even if only slightly."
Rachel's teacher, Amanda Kilgour, and New South Wales teacher Lisa Davis from Marian Catholic College in Griffith, received a teacher's award for commitment to student excellence as part of the Science for Growth Awards.
Their prize included free registration, accommodation and travel expenses to attend the Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA) in Canberra from July 8 to 11.
"The Science for Growth Awards gives students an opportunity to create real life, valid experiments, helping to build links between the classroom and their future career, while developing problem solving skills that can be applied to almost every facet of daily life," Amanda said.
Open to all Years Nine and 10 students in New South Wales and Queensland, submissions to the Science for Growth Awards close on 19 September 19.
The winning students in each state will take home a cash prize, with the overall project winner receiving $500.
For more information and to register go to www.scienceforgrowthawards.com.au.