STEM NEWS: Marist students engage with National Science Week activities

27 August 2020, 2:53PM

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National Science Week (NSW) was celebrated across the nation from 15 – 23 August 2020This is a week (or 9 days, actually!) when students explore a range of offerings at local, state and national level that are designed to raise awareness of the importance of STEM disciplines to our lives, and to encourage further studies in these areas. 

Marist students were offered a link-up with the 2020 Young Tassie Scientists on Monday 17 August. In previous years this would have involved a classroom visit by the scientists, but Covid 19 social distancing protocols determined the event become ‘virtual’ in 2020. Students had a ZOOM© link-up with Alannah, a young Tasmanian Neuroscience Researcher and Nathan, a Victorian, now resident of Tasmania, who researches the impacts of Tasmanian pollens on the development of hay-fever and asthma symptoms. Both young people proved to be very enthusiastic PhD candidates and they described their working days for students and offered a glimpse of what life would be like as a STEM researcher. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and seek advise on how to best to position themselves, to meet their own career hopes and ambitions. 

Marist Regional College is very grateful to the Australian National Science Week Committee, the University of Tasmania and Inspiring Australia for making this interaction possible for our students. 

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National Science Week – Students showcase more STEM projects. 

Have you ever wondered how difficult it might be to drop a relief package from a helicopter into a war-torn region and avoid damaging the goods or striking the inhabitants? The answers to challenges like this involve parachute design, calculation of forces, measurement of landing times, application of theories of projectile motion and much, much more. This is the topic being researched by Ethan, Sanjey and Toby in their STEM project. They have designed and made parachutes of equal surface area, but differing shape and fabric, and are testing their small designs with view to scale-up for actual use. Their next challenge will be to apply the mathematics, so that their models can be evaluated and scaled-up, for actual usage. 

Ethen has commenced writing his second children’s book for the Tasmanian Science Talent Search. Like his first book, completed in June, this story is also centered around space. However, this time Ethen has moved beyond our Solar System, as he ponders Deep SpaceWith drawings that are inspired by some beautiful images from the Hubble Space telescope, and a fictional storyline that is based in factual information, this book is destined to be worth Ethen’s efforts. 

How effective as antibacterial agents are household cleaners and baby wipes? This is the question being researched by Year 8 student, Lachlan, in Junior STEM Club. Lachlan first did a trial growth of lactobacillus bacteria from sour milk, to tell if they could be easily grown in a laboratory, on nutrient agar plates. Upon finding that the answer was YES, Lachlan then inoculated many plates with lactobacillus, treated them with variable cleaning agents and left them to incubate, to determine how well each cleaner limits bacterial growth. Lachlan’s findings have applications to anyone aiming to maintain clean surfaces. 

Year 8 student, Penny, wonders just how effectively facemasks can function. Given the prevalence of their usage across the world, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the proper use of facemasks and their effectiveness in stopping droplet contamination, is a critical issue. Penny has set up a simulator for a human cough, using a medical dummy, and she is trialing an assortment of facemasks for distance of droplet transmission. This is, indeed, a very timely project! 

Ms Ann Burke 

STEM Coordinator