On 19 June, 28 students went on an excursion to the University of Queensland (UQ) to participate in Experience Science. We spent the day engaging in activities that aimed to inform us about what to expect from a Science course at UQ. Throughout the course of the day, we heard lectures from PhD candidates, Honours and Masters recipients, and participated in three workshops. As part of the purple group, we participated in the Maths, Chemistry and Biology programs. In the Maths session, we learnt about the importance of the networking theory in forming public transport systems as well as mapping the neurons in your brain. Our tutor also demonstrated the fascinating method of determining the smallest possible surface area of any given 3D shape through the use of bubbles. The session highlighted just a few of the many career paths that a degree in Maths could open-up for us in the future. Our second course was Chemistry. We conducted an experiment which allowed us to investigate the amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A) in two different vegetables.
Through paper chromatography, we determined that beta-carotene was present in both capsicum and carrot. Although the experiment was only a brief glimpse into what a degree in Chemistry would allow you to accomplish, it was useful to experience the type of research that students do. Our final lesson of the day was Biology. The Biology activity stood out from the rest of the sessions as it incorporated theatrics. While UQ students – dressed up as alarmingly realistic zombies – walked around, we were tasked with investigating what substance in an area of Australia was turning the humans into zombies. Our group was given several petri dishes filled with substances ranging from the mould in one of the zombie victim’s house to the porridge they had consumed, to look for a worm that was effectively infecting humans. In order to find this worm, we looked through microscopes to study each substance. Although disgusting, we finally discovered the worm culprits in the porridge.
Overall, the day was inspiring and exciting. The UQ students opened our eyes to so many potential career opportunities as well as study and research opportunities in the STEM program. From studying rat skulls to sketching the Himalayas, the opportunities presented at UQ were completely outside of anything I had imagined for myself. This excursion really inspired me to look outside of my comfort zone and to study something I am passionate about.
Kasey Gill, Year 10
As a Senior student, the day was invaluable in giving me a taste of university study and life. The students from UQ helped to answer the questions I had, particularly regarding postgraduate studies, elective units, and overseas exchanges.
We took part in three separate sessions throughout the day; I took part in the Marine Science, Physics, and Ecology sessions. The Marine Science session saw us looking through VR goggles into an immersive 3D experience on the Great Barrier Reef, and learning about coral reefs, with an emphasis on the factors causing the destruction of said reefs. The Physics session was all about light – elements such as hydrogen, neon, and sodium were excited, releasing light of different wavelengths (and hence different colours). We then applied this to plants and saw that pure chlorophyll under UV light emits red light. The reason for this is that electrons in the atoms are excited to a higher energy state, then release light when they return to the previous energy state. In the session on Ecology, we were paired-up with local UQ experts, who explained the history of the grounds on which UQ was built. UQ has a variety of natural and artificial features designed to mimic the natural environment, including mangroves which serve a variety of purposes, and a water fountain which introduces oxygen into the lake.
Ciarán Komarakul-Greene, Year 12
Overall, the excursion provided a valuable insight that will aid me when I come to make important decisions about my future.
Joanna Findlay, Year 10
The highlight of my day was the workshop hosted by the Biology department in which we were enlisted to help stop a zombie apocalypse. Although I had many unpleasant surprises from zombies’ unexpected appearances, I really enjoyed analysing and investigating with microscopes. The University of Queensland Science Experience gave me a clear idea of my future studies and how I can achieve my goals.
Emma Cooney, Year 10
I liked the idea of being able to come outside to complete schoolwork, in the fresh air with only the sound of the flowing water fountain and some nearby birds. Overall, the Experience Science excursion demonstrated to me what the life of a university student at UQ would be like compared to that of high school, which I feel is useful knowledge.
Georgina Badenhorst, Year 10
We were able to see a range of UQ’s Science facilities and were exposed to the many different features of the campus, including UQ’s fully domesticated white duck. Overall, the day was engaging, insightful and made the future of studying Science a little clearer for all those involved.
Emily Van Wyk, Year 11