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QUT STEM Workshop – Year 10

QUT STEM Workshop – Year 10

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator: Exceptional Scientists Program

CHAC’s Exceptional Scientists seize control of a universe. Not to worry – this was not a cross-curricular collaboration between Chemistry and the Space Design Competition students gone horribly wrong. Instead, it was a hands-on space simulation performed at QUT Gardens Point on the Universe Sandbox by Year 10 Physics students. The special relativity workshop dealt with spacetime and relativity in novel demonstrations and discussions.

These challenging yet fundamental concepts were explained by Einstein in about 1905. His theories refined those developed by Sir Isaac Newton in the 1660s. Newton himself was improving on his Cambridge education grounded in the teaching of Aristotle circa 300BC. Based on that immense acceleration of knowledge, perhaps someone of our generation will be the next to improve or refine these laws of Physics.

In any case, it was an excellent and enjoyable excursion kindly arranged by Ms Ellyett. All attendees will have gained at a useful grounding in a key Senior Physics concept.

Anna Coldham-Fussell, Year 10

On 15 November I was fortunate enough to attend a QUT STEM Workshop with my fellow Physics students. We had the opportunity to gain insight into the physics concepts that we will study in our Senior studies. The presentation of otherwise overwhelming concepts using physical demonstrations meant that I left the day with a vastly improved knowledge of the workings of our universe. Another highlight was using a computer program to put a jack-o’-lantern into the universe with a radius that would take up one quarter of the Milky Way. Overall, I found the excursion to be both entertaining and valuable.

Joanna Findlay, Year 10

I was highly interested in the concepts covered and found the student ambassadors who took the workshop to be engaging and passionate about the topic. The concepts differed from the majority of my previous learning and allowed me to explore the possibilities of Senior Physics and, furthermore, degrees that I could undertake at university. I know that everyone who participated on the day enjoyed the experience, but more importantly learnt about new and exciting concepts.

Annelies Alcorn, Year 10

Throughout the day, we began to realise that when you travel faster, time slows down. We also found out that time slows down when gravity increases. This was clarified by an interesting clip from the movie Interstellar. The QUT Ambassadors also engaged us in hands-on activities to help explain how motion is relative. This really helped us understand this complex theory. To top off the day, we tried out the computer program Universe Sandbox, which allowed us to make modifications to our universe and model situations such as the effect of removing the sun from our solar system. Overall, the workshop presented difficult and interesting physics theories and the ambassadors did a great job helping us get our heads around them.

Ben Harms, Year 10

I especially enjoyed being exposed to new, challenging and interesting concepts and being pushed to think about our world from a different perspective. The interactive screens gave us insight into the conditions on different planets and how robots can be coded to carry out particular tasks. Overall, we learnt a lot throughout the day and it was a very exciting experience.

Erika Lawry, Year 10

The workshop on Special Relativity was extremely informative. Some of the most interesting aspects included the bending of time around heavy gravitational pulls such as black holes. This was a new concept for many of us and, although we struggled to wrap our minds around the concept of time travelling differently at different places in the universe, we found the possible implications of this fascinating. Someone could spend just minutes near a black hole that would equate to years back on Earth. We found this so cool!

Hannah Dagwell, Year 10

The workshop was a fun and engaging experience which explained how relativity is relevant in every-day use, such as in calibrating GPS devices.

Ethan Cheung, Year 10

While I was not able to gain a full understanding of Special Relativity, this workshop gave me a hunger for more knowledge about this topic and physics in general.

Billy Byrne, Year 10