Tag Archives: education

The dream to get every Australian connected online

A new index on digital inclusion is setting out a path for all Australians to get the vital benefits that come with internet access.

Information and communication technologies have become near-essential for everyday life, but many people in low income, remote and vulnerable communities can’t access them. Continue reading The dream to get every Australian connected online

Improved primary science teaching at no extra cost

Two science teachers from New South Wales and Queensland are using fresh approaches to get kids interested in science – and keep them interested.

Ken Silburn (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear)
Casula High School has gone from just eight students taking science to two-thirds of Year 11 and 12 students. Credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science/WildBear

Continue reading Improved primary science teaching at no extra cost

Motor races and science labs fuel interest in science

Each year in early July, when its 700 students are on holiday, Townsville State High School becomes the headquarters for a V8 Supercars race.

Sarah Chapman and student. Credit: Nicole Waters

But before and after the race, Sarah Chapman’s Year 11 science students are hard at work, slopping their way through the nearby mangroves and wading into the neighbouring estuary. The data they collect is then used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to manage the impact of the race on local estuaries. “The students are really taken by the idea that they are finding out things nobody else knows,” Sarah says.

Continue reading Motor races and science labs fuel interest in science

Camping and puppets top science teaching prize

Brooke Topelberg’s students are so keen on science that her lunch-time science club has a waiting list.

2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools winner, Brooke Topelberg with students. Credit: Prime Minister's Science Prizes/Bearcage
2011 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools winner, Brooke Topelberg, with students. Credit: Prime Minister’s Science Prizes/Bearcage

And Jane Wright has been taking high school girls to explore science in the bush for over 25 years.

Both of these passionate professionals have been awarded a Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching.
Continue reading Camping and puppets top science teaching prize

A student’s out-of-this­-world experience

DANIEL TRAN RECEIVING A FRAMED PRINT OF HIS OBJECT OF FASCINATION, THE GLOWING EYE NEBULA.CREDIT: DAVID MARSHALL.
DANIEL TRAN RECEIVING A FRAMED PRINT OF HIS OBJECT OF FASCINATION, THE GLOWING EYE NEBULA.CREDIT: DAVID MARSHALL.

Daniel Tran, a year ten student at PAL College in Cabramatta, a suburb in southwestern Sydney, has photographed the Glowing Eye Nebula, a ghostly cloud of gas that has lasted at least 3,000 years and surrounds a dying star some 7,000 light years from Earth.

Daniel took the photograph using one of the world’s biggest telescopes—the giant 8.1­metre Gemini South telescope in Chile, in which Australia has a 6.2 per cent share. His precious hour’s worth of observing time on the telescope was the 2009 prize for winning the Australian Gemini School Astronomy Contest, which aims to inspire the next generation of Australian astronomers by involving students in the process of real astronomy at a major professional facility. Continue reading A student’s out-of-this­-world experience

Nurturing super astronomers at home

SUPER SCIENCE FELLOW DR JAMES ALLISON AT NARRABRI DURING AN OBSERVING RUN AT THE AUSTRALIA TELESCOPE COMPACT ARRAY. CREDIT: ANANT TANNA.
SUPER SCIENCE FELLOW DR JAMES ALLISON AT NARRABRI DURING AN OBSERVING RUN AT THE AUSTRALIA TELESCOPE COMPACT ARRAY. CREDIT: ANANT TANNA.

Advanced telescopes need advanced astronomers to run them. Australia is matching the millions of dollars it is investing in new telescope technology with funds to help train the rising stars of Australian astronomy.

“We’ve had big investments in infrastructure, and now we need young scientists with the expertise to use them,” says Elaine Sadler, professor of Astrophysics at the University of Sydney and chair of the National Committee for Astronomy.

One new tranche of research funding for early career astronomers comes in the form of three-year Super Science Fellowships from the Commonwealth Government. In 2011, 14 young astronomers became Super Science Fellows, joining the 17 who started work in 2010. All up, astronomy will receive one-third of the Federal Government’s $27 million commitment to the Fellowships program. Continue reading Nurturing super astronomers at home

The destruction of a star

THE ZADKO TELESCOPE MAKING OBSERVATIONS NEAR GINGIN, 70 KILOMETRES NORTH OF PERTH. CREDIT: JOHN GOLDSMITH/CELESTIAL VISIONS.
THE ZADKO TELESCOPE MAKING OBSERVATIONS NEAR GINGIN, 70 KILOMETRES NORTH OF PERTH. CREDIT: JOHN GOLDSMITH/CELESTIAL VISIONS.

You have to be well prepared, quick and lucky to take a picture of an explosion, especially if that explosion occurred 11 billion years ago in a remote part of the Universe. Having the right equipment, plus friends in high places, certainly helps. And that’s exactly what the Zadko Telescope—managed by the University of Western Australia at the Gingin Observatory about 70 kilometres north of Perth—does have.

In December 2008, just after it was installed, the telescope was first on the scene to record for future analysis the afterglow of a momentous event—a huge explosion as a star collapsed into a black hole releasing a massive gamma-ray burst. It’s the kind of happening the one-metre Zadko Telescope, currently the largest optical telescope in Western Australia, was built to observe. And it performed flawlessly, outpacing the world’s most powerful telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

Continue reading The destruction of a star