With a full head of ‘STEM’ the Victoria University Science Roadshow is on its way to regional Victoria to inspire the next generation of Australian scientists.
The free VU Science Roadshow will bring state-of-the art equipment and hands-on experiments to secondary schools in Ararat, Ballarat, Benalla, Bendigo, Seymour, Shepparton, Wangaratta, and Wodonga from 18-29 July.
Through VU’s ‘Be a Chemist for a Day’ program, Years 9 and 10 students will learn to convert aspirin into Dencorub (Deep Heat), vinegar into banana essence, generate electricity using lemons, and use a VU invention that can help wildlife caught in oil spills.
Years 11 and 12 students will put their VCE chemistry theory into practice by using sophisticated analytical instruments to analyse aspirin in medications, sugars in honey, caffeine in energy drinks and the chemical structure of molecules.
The Roadshow reflects VU’s support of the national focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and its own STEM agenda.
VU’s Dr Domenico Caridi said chemical analysis is now an important topic in the VCE chemistry curriculum but many students – especially in regional areas – do not have access to high-level equipment to conduct experiments.
“The cost of these instruments means they are unaffordable by many schools so students miss the chance to merge theory with hands-on experience,” he said.
Victoria University obtained the instruments in 2012 through a partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments.
“VU offers both programs so students in regional areas do not need to come to Melbourne to experience this kind of science in action.”
Dr Caridi said a STEM education at school is critical, particularly in light of a report from Australia’s Chief Scientist indicating the performance of Australian students against international benchmarks has stalled or declined, as has participation in senior secondary science and advanced mathematics. ENDS