Page 1

ISSN 0157-6488



Volume 47 Number 2 June 2011

inside this issue: • Dancing with Science • A  n archaeology program for Elon University cover image to be finalised

• Easy Astonomy The Ringed Planet Returns!

• P  rimary Science Conference



The Science Teachers’ Association SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A of Western Australia PO Box 7310 Karawara WA 6152


Head Office Resources and Chemistry Precinct Curtin University of Technology Building 500 Manning Road entrance Bentley WA 6102





Warehouse Address Unit 6, 10 Mallard Way, Cannington WA 6107 Contact details Tel +61 (0) 8 9244 1987 Fax +61 (0) 8 9244 2601 Email Web Editor Julie-Anne Smith Perth Zoo


Editorial COMMITTEE Frank Dymond Edith Cowan University

Dancing with Science


Rosemary Evans Balga Senior High School

Using a digital multi-meter as an inexpensive data logger subsitute


Lesley Glass Ballajura Community College

Easy Astronomy – The Ringed Planet Returns!


Visit to the Gravity Discovery Centre


George Przywolnik Curriculum Council

An archaeology program for Elon University with


Rachel Sheffield Edith Cowan University

Trevor Walley (EcoEducation)

Suzi Greenway Perth Zoo Jennifer Pearson Edith Cowan University

David Treagust Curtin University Shelley Yeo Curtin University EDITORIAL correspondence Julie-Anne Smith Perth Zoo Published four times a year by STAWA through

a division of Cambridge Media 10 Walters Drive Osborne Park WA 6017

Primary Science Conference


Lighting Up Across the World


The Lesser Known Side of Einstein


ASTA Executive Convene in Perth






University of Western Australia


Murdoch University






Graphic Designer Gordon McDade Advertising enquiries to Tel (08) 9244 1987 Fax (08) 9244 2601 Email © 2011 The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without the written permission of The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia. Unsolicited material is welcomed by the Editor but no responsibility is taken for the return of copy or photographs unless special arrangements are made. ISSN 0157-6488 This journal aims to promote the teaching of science with a focus on classroom practice. It provides a means of communication between teachers, consultants and other science educators. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the various authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Western Australian Science Teachers’ Association or the editorial committee.



Editorial Welcome to the second issue of SCIOS for 2010. After the hottest and driest summer on record in Perth, with only 0.2 millimetres of rain from December to February, it was lovely to receive several huge downpours last week. The season breaking rains in the city have left everything looking clean, and fresh, and alive again. News from the country about the extent of the rain in inland areas has also been positive. So it’s been an absolute pleasure working on this issue of SCIOS, knowing that the change in the weather has brought a positive new outlook for West Australians far and wide. As I speak with science educators across a range of forums, the common topic of discussion is the challenge presented by the introduction of the Australian Curriculum. Clearly, the demands on teachers brought through this change are greater than ever. STAWA provides a range of classroom resources, professional learning opportunities and a terrific support network to assist in implementing the Australian Curriculum – Science, building capacity in schools and boosting morale. I encourage all science educators to use the services and opportunities available through STAWA, and to share ideas, experiences and expertise to continue to strengthen science teaching and learning in WA. With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to invite science education researchers, leaders and practitioners to submit relevant papers and articles to SCIOS as a way of supporting our colleagues in this time of educational reform. Our journal is a great way of communicating new ideas, sharing experiences and promoting our profession. I look forward to hearing about your challenges and successes as you implement the new Curriculum. This issue of SCIOS presents different ways of engaging students with science through real-life experiences and hands-on activities. The value of providing real-life contexts to improve student interest, participation and understanding has long been recognised. And hands-on activities provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively in groups, discuss ideas and solve problems. As always, I hope you’ll enjoy reading this issue of SCIOS and find inspiration amongst its pages. As you strive to help your students find pleasure in learning, I hope our articles will help you find pleasure in teaching! Best wishes


Can you contribute? Yes of course you can. So can lab technicians and students… your Year 7 or Year 8 class could write a half page article with a photo that we would love to publish. Here’s how. We are keen to increase the number and variety of types of articles published in SCIOS. So if the answer is YES to any of the following questions, we want to hear from you. •

worked really well? •

Is there a great demonstration that always gets your students’ attention?

Have you tried a new teaching technique that was fun?

Do you have some helpful hints for new teachers (and not-so-new ones)?

Are there some safety hints and tips that you’d like to pass on?

Have you used computers or some other technology really effectively?

Julie-Anne Smith

SCIOS Deadlines for 2011-2012


Have you recently conducted a new experiment that


Articles and Advertising

September 2011

1 August 2011

December 2011

1 November 2011

March 2012

1 February 2012

June 2012

1 May 2012

What successes have your students had in science?

Are your students involved in a science project outside the school?

Or is there anything else science-related you would like to share with others?


Chief Executive Officer’s Report The 2011 STAWA Primary Science

many fantastic social and networking opportunities. For more



information on CONASTA 60 please visit

Returning to a residential format at

You can also access the details via the STAWA website. Western

The Vines was well supported. The

Australia is always well represented at the CONASTA conferences




Australian Curriculum: Science F-10 was a popular topic of discussion. The

so there will be some familiar faces.

workshop program was rich with many

The STAWA AGM will be taking place on Friday 2 September 2011,

hands-on classroom-based activities

in the Exhibition space at the Resources and Chemistry Precinct,

on offer. Delegates were very switched

Curtin University of Technology, Building 500, Bentley Campus.

on to the professional program but relaxed and enjoyed the

The meeting will start at 5:00pm and if past years are any

networking and social opportunities. A big thank you to all the

indication, will finish by 6:00pm. Following the meeting drinks

supporters, exhibitors and presenters who helped makes the

and finger food will be available to complement the networking

conference a success. A special thank you goes to Natalie Birrell

opportunity. The AGM is fast becoming one of the STAWA premier

and her committee for the tremendous work that they did in planning the conference.

networking events. More than 50 members have been present at each meeting over the last five years. I look forward to seeing as

The 31st CONSTAWA, Conference of the Science Teachers’

many of you at our AGM as possible. Let’s make the 2011 AGM the

Association of Western Australia, was held on Friday 27 May

biggest ever.

and Saturday 28 May. Friday began with an optional morning workshop with Key Pad interactive, while the afternoon sessions took place at various excursion venues. From the excursions, delegates attended the welcome reception, keynote and dinner at the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle. Thank you to the Hon Dr Liz

Regards Your Chief Executive Officer John Clarke

Constable, the Minister for Education, for opening the conference and to Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia, for her keynote address. It is always a pleasure to hear Lyn’s presentations as her enthusiasm is infectious and her insights in Science in WA inspirational. Saturday 28 May at Notre Dame University, Fremantle, was an action-packed day of workshops and food. The delegates were treated to a wonderful array of activity-based workshops and papers. Thanks to all presenters. I also find that much of the energy and enthusiasm at a conference occurs when participants have an opportunity to engage with supplies. STAWA has a great group of loyal supporters who once again provided a presence that added great value to the conference experience. It has been about 34 years since John Anderton and his Committee convened the first CONSTAWA at Muresk near Northam. 2011 marks the first CONSTAWA only conference away from Muresk. It was a new experience for delegates and a learning experience for our committee. Using conference feedback, planning for next year is already beginning. It may take a couple of years to get a CONSTAWA formula that gives maximum reach so look forward to

A series of online science competitions for school teams of four students. start 21stscience March competitions 2011. Visit ARounds series of online for school teams of four students. Rounds 21sttimes March for detailsstart of term for2011. each Visit year group and to download a registration form. for details of term times for each year Proudly supported by group and to download a registration form. Proudly supported by

some exciting changes in the future. CONASTA, the annual Conference of the Australian Science

Proudly supported by

Teachers’ Association, (ASTA) will be hosted by the Science Teachers Association of the Northern Territory and held in Darwin. If you have the opportunity, and have not attended a CONASTA before, I recommend that you register. CONASTA 60 will


offer a strong professional program including: Lab Tech Program, Primary Program, Workshops and Excursions. It will also have




President’s Report The year is well under way and STAWA

of format, which was the second major change. The conference

has been involved in a number of

program began on Friday lunchtime and concluded Saturday

activities, many of which support the


International Year of Chemistry. On March 19 and 20 the annual Primary

excursions, all of which had a focus on the Science as a Human

Science Conference was held. This year

Endeavour strand of the Australian Curriculum. This was followed

it returned to the residential format of

by a Welcome Reception on Friday evening where the Hon Dr

former years with the added ability to

Elizabeth Constable, Minister for Education, joining us to officially

attend single day registrations as well. It also utilised the popular

open the conference. The first Keynote Address was presented

Vines Resort in the Swan Valley as the venue so participants

by Prof Lyn Beasley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia. After

could enjoy some pampering and a little luxury in their free time.

Prof Beasley’s words of wisdom and encouragement we enjoyed

The conference was a great success with a marked increase in

the annual CONSTAWA dinner, a night of fun and frivolity with a

the number of registrations compared to 2010, which is a very

pirate theme appropriate for a port city.

healthy sign. The theme for the conference was “Attract, React

Saturday saw the University of Notre Dame playing host to the

and Create: The Chemistry of Science”. This theme was well

workshop sessions that were on offer. The day kicked off with

supported by the Keynote Address on Sunday provided by Dr

a welcome from Notre Dame University followed by the second

Simon Lewis. Simon is Associative Professor in the Department

keynote presented by Geoffrey Quinton in which he discussed

of Chemistry, Curtin University, and leads the Forensic and

the Australian Curriculum: Science Senior Secondary and

Analytical Chemistry Research Group. His presentation was titled

updates on its progress. The program then broke into the usual

“Every Contact Leaves a Trace: A Beginners Guide to Forensic

workshops that highlighted what is new in Australian Curriculum


Development, Cutting Edge Science, ICT Development and

My thanks go to all the presenters who generously gave up their time to provide such a diverse program for the participants.

Pedagogy. The conference concluded with Sundowner Drinks on Saturday evening.

Without them the weekend would not have been as successful.

To the organisers of CONSTAWA goes a huge thank you for your

I sincerely thank the Primary Science Committee of STAWA who

time, commitment and dedication. Planning for a new format and

worked tirelessly over many months to put the weekend together.

location made the task this year just that bit more complicated but

The Australian Curriculum session was very popular. Clearly this is an area that needs further development. To address this, STAWA is planning to hold a Primary Conference in Bunbury later in the year that will focus fully on the Australian Curriculum. Science

the end result was well worth the effort. Also, I wish to sincerely thank the presenters for giving up their time to prepare and present sessions for us. Without the presenters the conference would not even get off the ground.

Teachers will have the opportunity to have a detailed look at the

The year is flying by and we have now set the AGM date for

new curriculum, analysing each conceptual strand and discussing

Friday 2 September at the STAWA office building. This is located

how they can best implement them in their classrooms. As this

in the Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Curtin University

project is in the initial planning stages, keep your eyes out for

of Technology, Building 500. Keep an eye out for the specific

more information as the year progresses.

details on the website, through Catalist and through the regular

As SCIOS goes to press CONSTAWA 2011 will have recently concluded. This year marked the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in CONSTAWA history with two groundbreaking changes. Firstly we moved venues from the Muresk site to


The afternoon program on Friday consisted of a variety of

members’ mail outs as this date approaches. We have a busy few months ahead of us with CONASTA in Darwin in July, the AGM in September and the many STAWA projects and PD on the go. I hope to see many of you at each of these events.

historic Fremantle. This brought a new, fresh perspective to

Sue Doncon

the conference sessions as well as complimenting the change

STAWA President



Dancing with Science Elaine Lewis and Jennifer Pearson, Australian Association for Environmental Education – WA Chapter The science fair “was fantastic” … I enjoyed “everything: fun with physics, birds, reptiles”.

Introduction A Dance of Science was a four-hour science fair that engaged the general public in learning about aspects of ‘movement’ in science. The event was held at the Canning River Eco Education Centre (CREEC), located on the Canning River in Wilson. The planning, implementation and evaluation of the fair was achieved through a successful partnership between National Science Week, the Australian Association for Environmental Education – WA Chapter (AAEE-WA), City of Canning, CREEC and the South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare (SERCUL). AAEE-WA was awarded a 2010 National Science Week grant to conduct A Dance of Science community fair. This funding was

2010 Science fair banner featuring the winning artwork. Photo courtesy Elaine Lewis.

supplemented by funds and in-kind support from the other major

The fair commenced with ‘welcome to country’ by a local

partners. Numerous smaller sponsors also supported the event.

Indigenous elder. This was followed with a performance by

The fair was conducted during National Science Week, on Sunday 15 August 2010, 10:00am-2:00pm. Over 1000 people attended,

the Madjitil Moorna choir celebrating Aboriginal culture, and a swirling Terra Amare dancer interacting with the audience.

representing a wide cross section of the community. Furthermore, 69% of the fair attendees who completed the feedback survey had not previously attended any National Science Week events.

Project Purpose The overarching aim of the science fair was to showcase contemporary science and Indigenous perspectives. This incorporated: • Providing an opportunity for the general public to participate in an event that showcased science, technology and innovation; highlighting contemporary science’s explorations and concerns as interesting, challenging, important, and of direct relevance to daily life, the well being of society and environmental sustainability. • Promoting science careers. • Fostering awareness of Indigenous perspectives. • Fostering partnerships between the community, education/ research organisations, local and state government, business and industry.

Terra Amare dancer. Photo courtesy Elaine Lewis.

Participants then engaged in a range of hands-on interactive experiences: microscope exploration of biological specimens;

A Dance of Science Program

contemporary and Indigenous perspectives on fire management

Prior to the fair children were invited to design art works related

for soil type of home gardens; traditional Indigenous storytelling

to the fair theme. Over two hundred entries were received. The

in bush environments; professional assistance in plant selection and rock art to pass on knowledge; and Terra Amare dancing

winning entry, by a 12 year old student, was featured on the fair

workshops that focused on the creation of life and love of the





News Additional bin labelling and reminder signs were provided. Other strategies employed to promote wastewise understandings were, for example, ‘welcome table’ and ‘bin monitor’ officers reminding patrons to be wastewise and the involvement of Remida, an organisation that recycles industrial waste. At the end of the event all waste was weighed. Only 11.6kg of compostable materials and 3.86kg of recyclables were generated by the event, with less than 1kg of waste contaminants (plastic plates and cups etc.) in the compostable bins. Clearly, organisers sought to ‘walk the talk’ in terms of waste management. The fair model was adapted for use by Coolbinia Primary School and utilised during National Science Week. Amongst various science promotion strategies employed at the school, a science tabloid day was held. Students from Coolbinia Primary and Sir Water testing activity. Photo courtesy Elaine Lewis.

Numerous displays were featured, for example, information from Perth Urban Bushland Fungi, Bush Fire Management, frogs of the

David Brand Schools danced and weaved their way through a series of science investigations, enjoying the Fungi Fandango... and other Dances of Science.

Perth region, and local conservation groups. To complement the activities and displays there were formal talks. An Indigenous Eco Education Officer engaged the audience with Indigenous knowledge through stories about how to use bush knowledge and to live well in a changing climate. Birds Australia representatives presented a ‘talk and walk’ on bird species found along the Canning River system. The annual migration of different bird species, including the latest evidence on the movement of species in response to climate change, was addressed. These talks engaged participants’ visual, auditory and movement senses.

Outcomes Three key outcomes of A Dance of Science may be identified: Development of an innovative model, improved awareness of Indigenous knowledge, the enhancement of community partnerships for the promotion of science.

Innovative Model A Dance of Science represents an innovative model for conducting engaging science events that showcase science, technology and innovation. The model integrated modern and Indigenous science knowledge. Evaluation findings indicated enhanced science appreciation and increased community understanding of the vital role of science in exploring and addressing environmental issues. Evidence was obtained from participant’s questions to presenters, reactions to displays and surveys. For example, typical survey responses stated favourite activities were the “animals … activities for children … dancing” and least favourite activities “nothing … finished too early”. In brief, respondents were enthusiastic about the science event. Another component of the innovative model was targeted wastewise measures. Survey forms were printed on the back of the fair program so that only one page was required, with forms being returned to organisers so that they did not become rubbish. Keep Australia Beautiful supplied bins for the event. 6

Students yandying at Coolbinia Primary School. Photo courtesy Elaine Lewis.

Awareness of Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge Improved community awareness of Indigenous knowledge was achieved. The young and not so young were entranced by Indigenous stories. Evidence indicating improved awareness and appreciation of Indigenous knowledge about bush plants and care


News of the environment was documented on survey forms. Survey

SERCUL – but with many other groups as well. These included the

respondents indicated they enjoyed the Aboriginal displays, talks

Madjitil Moorna choir; Scitech; Department for Environment and

and rock art sessions. Overall, participants expressed improved

Conservation; Swan River Trust; Edith Cowan University Australia,

awareness of Indigenous perspectives in science.

Murdoch University; Keep Australia Beautiful Council; Remida; and numerous volunteer groups, such as Bush Rangers WA, Birds Australia and the Canning River Regional Park Volunteers. A wide variety of strategies were utilised to promote the event. These ranged from the distribution of leaflets through the CREEC, SERCUL, local schools and libraries; advertisements and publicity in local newspapers; and internet science and education websites and newsletters. Another promotional strategy employed was a design competition, inviting children to create artworks for the science fair banner. This not only promoted the event but also engaged children in investigations of ‘movement’ in science.

Conclusion A Dance of Science was effective in promoting science to all age groups in the community. As one survey respondent stated, “everything was fantastic”. Evidence obtained indicated the model for incorporating contemporary science and Indigenous perspectives was successful. Evidence also showed enthusiastic

Indigenous Eco Education Officer sharing knowledge. Photo courtesy Elaine Lewis.

engagement in science activities and enhanced community partnerships for the promotion of science. In conclusion, A Dance

Enhanced Partnerships

of Science community fair provided engaging hands-on activities

The third major outcome of the science fair was enhanced

that resulted in a rich and enjoyable learning experience that

partnerships, of existing partnerships and the establishment

enhanced science appreciation and understandings.

of new partnerships for the promotion of science. Partnerships

Special thanks to the other ‘A Dance of Science’ team members,

not only developed between the main organising bodies -

Tanya Porter from CREEC and Amy Krupa from SERCUL, to our

National Science Week, AAEE-WA, City of Canning, CREEC and

many volunteers and the fair patrons.



NOTICE OF STAWA ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING You are invited to attend the


Friday 2 September 2011 Exhibition Space, Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Curtin University of Technology Building 500 Enter off Manning Road, Bentley Campus The meeting will start at 5:00pm and will be followed by drinks and finger food Please RSVP to Vinda at STAWA on 9244 1987




Using a digital multi-meter as an inexpensive data logger substitute Michael Fenton, Founder/Director Nexus Research Group New Zealand Ministry of Education e-Learning Fellow Microsoft Innovative Teacher


As the RIGEL system is a proprietary technology and not

This paper describes the use of digital multi-meters (DMMs) as inexpensive data logger substitutes with sensors developed by the author. How to set up a multi-meter, construct sensors, and a

commercially available, the question of how to engage the wider teaching community with the benefits of using authentic data in learning arose.

list of activities that can be carried out by students is described.

Commercially available data loggers were considered. An

The work discussed here is an extension of earlier research

informal survey of schools indicated that a number of practices

examining the use of data logging technology in primary and sec-

and practicalities limit the opportunities for collecting real-world

ondary science and mathematics classes. Students observed in

data. It is not unusual for schools to limit the use of data logging

this trial confirmed the findings of the author’s earlier in-depth

devices to “special” lessons. The majority of teachers limited the

research that practical hands-on investigations resulted in more

use of these devices for use in senior high school classes. This

authentic learning, higher student engagement and greater un-

can be explained if it is recognised that for many schools data

derstanding of concepts.

loggers are high cost items. Sensors routinely cost in the vicinity


The reason junior classes may miss out, even if a school has the

of $90 to $350, depending on the type of sensor being used.

Prior to the current investigation with digital multi-meters, a

devices, appears to be an issue of complexity; data loggers are

sensor system called RIGEL was invented by the author (Fenton,

menu driven portable computers with download cables linked to

2008). This low-cost data logger could also be programmed as

personal computers with software to analyse the data.

a game device. A research project based on how students could use this mobile technology in science and mathematics classes included three main questions; • How does the use of mobile sensor technology support authentic learning? • How does the use of mobile sensor technology support higher level thinking? • How does the use of mobile sensor technology support a greater understanding about the nature of science? In general the devices enabled students to sense the environment. They could sense things they could not see or touch themselves as well as detect events that happen too quickly for them to observe. Collecting real data was exciting, and the data they collected had real-world consequences for them; they might have configured the device as a game device, an alarm system, or a piece of science equipment to survey the school grounds. Engaging with their own data was shown to supported authentic learning, permit real-world problem solving, and enabled most students to reach the relational stage or higher on the SOLO taxonomy (Hattie and Brown, 2004) in mathematics and science. Students also used the f-word. They reported they had fun. In New Zealand, two other reports (Tideswell, 2005; Neill & Maguire, 2008) have examined the use of data logging. The research confirmed findings overseas that practical handson investigations resulted in more authentic learning, higher student engagement and greater understanding of concepts. 8

A class set of DMMs in a plastic tote tray with wooden dividers and a lid to hold probe cables. Photo courtesy Michael Fenton. Continued on page 10


Upcoming Events JUDGING Saturday 3 September

The final judging of entries will take place on Saturday 3 September. Volunteer judges will consider student submissions and select winners, place getter and meritorious entries in each category. Two overall winners will also be chosen at this time.

REGISTRATION Wednesday 1 June to Friday 19 August

PRESENTATION CEREMONY Wednesday 21 September

The Presentation Ceremony will take place at Scitech Entrants can register using the registration form available Discovery Centre from 6 pm on Wednesday 21 on the STAWA website: September. Finalists and their guests will receive invitations via their school. Finalist entries will be on Please contact the STAWA office on (08) 9244 1987 if display before and after the ceremony, and any entry not you have any problems with registration. Late entries being forwarded to other competitions may be collected prior to leaving. will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Physics Day Adventure World


Thursday 29 September

Tickets on sale from 1st June 2011 Early Bird Ticket offer available for a limited time only. Further information at:

Friday 2nd December at the University of Western Australia. Call for presenters open from 1st June 2011 at: or email

2011 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Friday 2 September, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Exhibition Space, Building 500 Curtin University, Manning Road, Bentley, WA, 6102 Resources and Chemistry Precinct, Curtin University of Technology Building 500, Manning Road Entrance, Bentley, WA, 6102 PO Box 7310, Karawara WA 6152

Phone: +61 (0) 8 9244 1987 Fax: +61 (0) 8 9244 2601 Email:

News In order to encourage a greater “thinking with evidence” or hands-

• Build a sensor – a ‘how-to’ description or image of how to

on science approach, where teachers and students investigate

connect the electrical component as a sensor and which dial

problems using authentic data, a more generic device had to be

setting to use.

found that was already commercially available, low cost, robust, and simple to use.

Test your sensor – an activity already tested (and calibrated if appropriate) by the teacher to demonstrate the equipment has

Digital multi-meters (DMMs) were investigated to see if they could fulfil this role and also deliver similar benefits to student attitudes and thinking as the RIGEL technology did.

been assembled correctly and is performing as expected. • Use your sensor – a first attempt at an authentic learning activity that permits students to develop play with the equipment and gain confidence in questioning and data

Discussion Teachers and students with low confidence were found to be confused by the markings on the DMMs. Two strategies were

collection. As student worked in pairs or teams, this also helped with participating and contributing skills.

employed that seemed to overcome this. Firstly, a plastic cover

After the initial ‘training’ sessions, students were encouraged to

was cut and placed over the central dial to cover distracting

investigate problems or explore the environment guided by the

labels on the meter. An erasable marker was used to label the

model of inquiry-based learning.

dial setting as ‘heat’ or ‘light’ or ‘salt’, etc. This aided the second strategy which was to remind students each time that we treat the meter as a ‘what does it measure today?’ machine. Students and staff with greater prior knowledge were more inquisitive about the ‘true’ settings the DMM was using to measure light, heat, etc. For safety reasons, as well as the ability to quickly change sensors, an electrical terminal block was fitted to the DMM probes. The probes that came with the meters had pointed ends that could cause injury if used improperly. In the trial only single component sensors were used. Some components must be inserted ‘the right way around’, such as light emitting diodes (LED’s) and signal diodes. It was a simple matter to remind students that if the display does not give an appropriate reading, just insert the sensor the other way around.

A student tabulating data from an angle sensor. Photo courtesy Michael Fenton.







qualitative measurements suitable for younger students or quantitative measurements suitable for older students to A meter with terminal block fitted and dial cover in place. The dial setting is to 200mV range and the light sensor is an LED. Photo courtesy Michael Fenton.

analyse further.

As none of the students had used a DMM before, students carried

behave in a positive linear fashion and this can confuse some

out a number of activities with different sensors in order to build

teachers as well as students. For example, a light emitting diode

up their confidence and provide some prior knowledge before

(LED) will generate a voltage in proportion to the intensity of

embarking on their own investigations.

knowledge and experience of the students. Not all sensors

light they receive. This means the bigger the reading on the meter, the more light is present. This is expected by younger

A typical introductory worksheet had three stages; 10

When selecting a sensor, it is helpful to consider the prior

students. However, care must be taken if using a signal diode


News as a temperature sensor since the resistance reading decreases

With so many sensors available, using data collected by students

with an increase in temperature and is only linear over a certain

has led them to authentically engage with mathematical concepts

range of temperatures. Sensors used in the trial were selected

such as statistics, graphing, algebra and probability. There are

on the basis of cost, chemical and electrical safety, simplicity and robustness. In general, a good sensor will affect the meters ability to measure current, voltage or electrical resistance as a consequence of a change in a single environmental factor. When analysing the data and discussing the activities, there were plenty of opportunities for students to learn about calibrating

obvious opportunities to engage with science; chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy and the weather. The trial was conducted with two class sets of 10 DMMs. Some schools might consider the possibility that students purchase their own DMM as part of their stationary. Apart from the fact that

sensors, such as the temperature and angle sensors. When

there is no cost to the school to use this technology, other than

activities were based on surveys or mapping, students talked

provide the sensors, such an approach would permit students to

about the need to take more than one measurement to get an

gather data outside of school. Some of the students in the Year 9

average reading.

trial wanted to do this.

While qualitative presence/absence readings may seem the


less advanced activity compared to quantitative investigations, surveys of school grounds or local parks and estuaries can

Digital multi-meters can be used as inexpensive data logger

encourage higher level thinking and should not be dismissed

substitutes and could be used at home as well as in the classroom.

without a clear understanding of the other learning opportunities

The use of mobile sensor technology in science and mathematics

that could arise.

has previously been found to

The author has developed a number of sensors; some are shown

• assist synthesis, evaluation, communication

as video clips and are on his website. Some sensors are very simple single component sensors costing a few cents. Other sensors are inexpensive but include a power source and a few more components. Apart from the straightforward voltage, current and resistance measurements, the multi-meters can also detect; visible light, infra-red light, ultra-violet light, ionising radiation such as alpha particles, temperature, angle, bend, salt, humidity, pressure, touch, paper thickness, mobile phone transmissions, static electric fields, and more.

• permit meaningful science in primary schools • permit students to test science texts for incorrect concepts or “facts” • let learners experience the nature of science • support teacher professional development and raise teacher self-efficacy with regard to doing more practical investigations with students. Students can carry out very simple or more complicated investigations in all context strands of the science curriculum (biology, chemistry, physics, Earth science and astronomy). The Year 9 mathematics students involved in this study were observed to gain similar cognitive, social and problem solving skills that students using the fully featured RIGEL system did. Further details, including video clips of assembling sensors and using the meters can be found at <www.NexusResearchGroup. com>.

References Fenton, M. (2008). Authentic learning using mobile sensor technology with reflections on the state of science education in New Zealand. CORE Education Ltd: Ministry of Education. Retrieved 4 April, 2011, from http://www. Hattie, J.A.C., & Brown, G.T.L. (2004). Cognitive processes in asTTle: The SOLO taxonomy. asTTle Technical Report#43, University of Auckland: Ministry of Education. Neill, A., & Maguire, T. (2008). An evaluation of the CAS Pilot Project 2006– 2007. New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Retrieved 4 April, from 2011, doc/0003/31089/An_evaluation_of_the_CAS_Pilot_Project_2006-2007_-_ Final.doc

Some of the sensors used in the trial. Angle, light (black canisters), temperature (white canisters), infra-red LEDs, and resistor ladders on breadboards. Photo courtesy Michael Fenton.


Tideswell, A. (2005). Mobile technology in the science: the MOTIS project. Retrieved 4 April, 2011, from MOTISprojectDec20052.pdf



Easy Astronomy The Ringed Planet Returns! Donna Vanzetti, Gingin Observatory Our favourite planet has finally returned to the night sky. Saturn is

But, if you do lose it during the month, Saturn will again be near

arguably the most beautiful of all the planets through a telescope,

the Moon from 6-10 July and on the 8th will be just below it.

with its butterscotch colour and ethereal ring system. The rings themselves are interesting, being made up of millions of particles

And now for our favourite constellation, the Southern Cross.

of ice and rock, all orbiting in a very thin plane around the planet.

June, July and August are the best times to see it as it is lying high

Saturn’s rings stretch out to a distance of approximately 250,000

in the southern sky. It is the smallest of the 88 constellations and

km. Despite their great extent, they are only about 10 metres

can only be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. Just look for five

thick. For an easy comparison for students, that is like covering all

stars in the shape of a diamond, lying on its side. The twin bright

of Subiaco Oval with a thin layer of tissue paper! Saturn is a large gaseous planet that is over 10 times the diameter of Earth and lays a mere 1.5 billion km away. It is one of the most

stars Alpha and Beta Centauri point directly to the cross and make it easy to distinguish.

spectacular planets in our Solar System and during June and July

Alpha Centauri, the bottom star of the pointers, is in fact a double

it will be high in the northern sky. It is one of the brighter stars in

star, so when you look at it through a telescope it resolves into

the sky with a yellowish colour to it and a memorable object to

two brilliant points of light, very close together. Of course they

see for any budding astronomer.

are actually 4 billion kms apart! Alpha Centauri is our next closest

From early June, Saturn can be seen in the northern sky around

star after the Sun, at 4.2 light years away. So you can see that

7:00 pm and on the 10 will be just to the right of the Moon. This

there is a lot of space in space!


will make it easy to find in the sky, although the Moon’s brightness may wash it out somewhat. Having pinpointed Saturn once, it then

You’re not an Aussie if you can’t point out the Southern Cross, so

gets easier to find the next time you want to stargaze, especially

now is the time to go outside and start exploring our beautiful

if you look for it regularly. This is the best way to become familiar

night sky.

with the night sky. Learn where one or two objects are in the sky and keep following them over consecutive nights.

Planet Saturn. Image courtesy Donna Vanzetti.




Visit to the Gravity Discovery Centre Abhishek Sharma, Nar Pho Hlo Kapaw, Moses Kalau and Caitlan Field, Students â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Balga Senior High School On 7 December 2010 sixty students from Balga Senior High

bottom. We recorded the values and because we knew the height

School went on an excursion to the Gravity Discovery Centre

of the tower we could work out the final velocity when we got

(GDC). The GDC is located about 100 km north of Perth in Gingin.

back to school the next day.

When we arrived we all watched an introductory video about

The second group went to see the GDC telescope. A staff member

gravity on Earth and in the Universe. After that we were split into

told us how it worked and about the website that you can log onto

two groups. One of the groups went outside to the Leaning Tower

to see recent images from the centre. Then the second group

of Gingin. The tower was named after the Leaning Tower of Pisa

went to see the exhibits. There are 37 exhibits. There was a staff


in Italy, which was built in 1173 with a height of 55.86 m and a 5.5

member who came and told us about the science of many of the

lean. The Leaning Tower of Gingin was built in 2008 with a height

exhibits. We were then allowed to use the exhibits by ourselves.

of 45 m and a 1.5 lean.

The most popular exhibits were the Vacuum Parachute, the Time


At the bottom of the tower each student was given some

Coil, the Bernoulli Ball, the Breathing Mirror and the Chaos Mirror.

balloons, which we filled up with water. We walked up the 222

After an hour we swapped activities. At the end of the second

steps to the top platform where we dropped our balloons through

session we were able to see how the GDC Pendulum worked

chutes while another student timed how long it took to get to the

before having lunch. After lunch we went into the Cosmology Gallery, which is shaped like half a soccer ball. The top part of the Gallery is a museum but we were on the bottom floor and we had to lie on our backs. Then all the lights went out and a movie about Black Holes was projected onto a screen on the ceiling of the building. It was then time to get back on the bus and go back to school. It was a really fun day because we learnt something about gravity and had fun interacting with the exhibits and throwing water balloons to see the splat of the impact. The Leaning Tower of Gingin and the Cosmology Gallery are dedicated to the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642) because of his contributions to both Physics and Astronomy. Galileo performed many of his experiments on gravity from the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy and we performed our experiments on gravity from the Leaning Tower of Gingin in Western Australia.

The Leaning Tower of Gingin. Photo courtesy Rosemary Evans.


Balga Senior High School students in the hands-on gallery at the Gingin Discovery Centre. Photo courtesy Rosemary Evans.



An archaeology program for Elon University with Trevor Walley (EcoEducation) George Newland Lecturer in Human Evolution, School of Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University

It was my privilege recently to accompany a group of students

The program was varied and balanced, with demonstrations that

and their staff members Anne Bolin and Tom Mould from Elon

kept the interest high. Descriptions of daily life were brought

University, North Carolina, on a trip to Walyunga National Park.

alive through examples of artefacts, such as the buka or cloak

Elon is a private liberal Arts campus, and has a study abroad

of kangaroo skin, and the firestick which was the constant

program, through which students can elect to study overseas

companion in their nomadic life. A highlight was the spear

for a semester. They can choose from a wide variety of overseas

throwing demonstration using a throwing stick that magnifies

experiences with affiliated institutions and this group were on an

the speed and range greatly. The presentation was delivered with

anthropology tour, arranged through Amanda Rickman of Curtin

a good deal of humour, which increased the entertainment along

University. We were also accompanied by Randy Strack, Senior

the way. A hands-on session where students were encouraged to

Scientific Officer in the School of Biomedical Sciences; and the

make their own stone knife or tarp by gluing flakes of quartz onto

buses for the trip were driven by Curtin University volunteers.

sticks with grasstree cement was a great hit.

As the focus was to be Indigenous studies, I asked for Trevor

We all then went “walkabout” through the park en route to

Walley, from EcoEducation in the Department of Environment and

the factory site where stone tools had been made for at least

Conservation (DEC), to meet us there and talk about Nyoongar life. I had never previously met Trevor but had heard about him from my old friend and colleague Peter Bindon, an archaeologist at the Western Australian Museum, so was looking forward with some anticipation to his presentation. I was not disappointed, and neither was the party. He held us spellbound for over two hours with his descriptions of life in times past, through his deep knowledge of Nyoongar culture.

Trevor Walley demonstrating use of a native plant as soap. Photo courtesy Tom Moulds, Elon University.


Trevor Walley delivering his presentation. Photo courtesy Tom Moulds, Elon University.


News 8,000 years on the archaeological evidence. On the way little

over 2,000 generations of aboriginals had camped and made the

digressions showed a deep knowledge of the local flora and fauna,

flakes they later assembled into tools.

even down to scientific names. Scratches on a redgum tree were made by a possum, and little depressions in the sand were bee-

All in all it was a fascinating and rewarding experience, and the Elon staff members have asked if it can be put on the list for their

eater nests. Trevor extracted an emollient from the soapbush

trip next year. I would like to quote from my letter of appreciation

shrub which could be used as a skin moisturizer, or hair shampoo

to DEC as I think it sums it all up:

(demonstrated on a willing subject to much merriment!). We looked at examples of “bush tucker” such as the yam and cycad seed, and thrill of thrills for the Americans, came across several kangaroos. I meant to ask Trevor how he had arranged that little surprise.

“I would like to record my thanks and appreciation for the presentation Trevor Walley gave us at Walyunga National Park on Wednesday 12 January 2011. The group, consisting of American students on a study tour, was enthralled by his informative and entertaining discourse and “walkabout” that followed. He

Finally, on to the site itself, which Trevor interpreted for us – areas

obviously has a deep knowledge of Noongyar culture, but also

devoid of stone that would be camping places as against the rest

showed an impressive scientific knowledge of the local flora and

which was densely covered by the products of stonemaking.

fauna. I would rate him as an outstanding educator, and 30 years

The students learned how to distinguish human-made flakes or

of experience has led me to the conclusion that such people are

artefacts from “lumps”, thus establishing the site as one where

born, not made, so DEC is fortunate indeed to have his services.”

Elon University students with Trevor Walley and lecturers. Photo courtesy Tom Moulds, Elon University.




Primary Sc




ience Conference




Lighting Up Across the World Rachel Sheffield, Edith Cowan University



It is often a complaint from secondary students that science

A Helping Hand (AHH) Project Director, Dr Rachel Sheffield,

is boring, irrelevant and does not interest them. The focus for

approached Christchurch Grammar School Head of Science,

teachers, therefore, has been to engage and enthuse students, providing them with science that is contextualised and involves real-life problems. This paper examines Year 9 studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; response when approached to solve a real-life environmental problem in a developing country.

Michael Masterson, with a real-life relevant problem to share with the Year 9 students in his options class. It was hoped that it would inspire and engage the students and encourage them to share their ideas and solutions to the problem. AHH Project had been asked by a local community to supply lights to the library in a small isolated school on the top of a hill in a village 10 km from Luang Prabang in the centre of Laos. The school did not have any

Background Sustainability will be an important key aspect in science in the new National Curriculum (ACARA, 2010). As a consequence,

power supply and although power runs to the village about km down the hill, the pylons and power lines were costed at AUD $850, which was greater than AHH the budget.

incorporating alternative energy sources into a remote village was seen as a valuable real-life project that promoted a sustainable future for the village school. The importance of the relevance of the science that is taught in schools has resonated in findings by Millar and Osborne (1998), Aikenhead (2006) and Goodrum, Hackling, and Rennie (2001), who concluded that the number of students choosing to study science was declining and that the science curriculum was not preparing students for the real-world. Other studies have determined that fewer and fewer students are reporting their interest in science or their plans to choose science-based careers (Fensham, 1985; Hodson, 2003; Jenkins &

The school at Ban Luksip, Laos. Photo courtesy Rachel Sheffield.

Nelson, 2005). The International ROSE study involved thousands

The Year 9 students were provided with geographical details of

of fifteen-year-old students in twenty one countries and asked

the village and then asked to research the weather conditions

them to consider the value and relevance of science in society and in their science classrooms. Students reported that while knowledge of science in society was important and valuable they were not interested in school science and an overwhelming number reported that they were unlikely to undertake a career in science (Trumper, 2006).

would be best to use to provide lights for the library in the school. This task formed part of the course work for the unit and the students created some excellent alternative energy options. AHH then provided the boys with several solar panels to test and asked them to create some simple visual instructions to help with the installation and running of the panels and the lights in

Motivating and finding relevant science for students in Year 9 to study can be a challenge for science teachers. Observations of


and finally to suggest and justify which alternative energy source

the village. Not all the boys participated in the next stage of the activity as

students in academic classrooms portray disinterested and bored

it was voluntary and five boys within the class of twenty took

students who do not see the relevance of classroom science

up the challenge and gave up their lunch times to test the solar

(ROSE) (Trumper, 2006).

panels and create the instructions. The solar panels and the



Library being built at Ban Luksip, Laos. Photo courtesy Rachel Sheffield.

completed instructions were then taken to Laos with the Rotary AHH team in November 2010 and used to help install the lights in the school library with the posters mounted onto walls.

The Rotary team using the posters to place the lights and batteries. Photo courtesy Rachel Sheffield.

other twelve said it was interesting and they enjoyed the project. When asked why they did not work with the solar panels, eleven boys responded, with four being uninterested and then three who were too busy with other activities at lunch times and after school. One boy reported that he disagreed with the use of solar panels and thought it was a better option to use wind power and therefore did not want to participate. The five boys who did choose to participate all had two reasons, one related to the use of technology which was interesting and engaging for them, and the other was their wish to help others, with one boy reporting, “I saw this as an opportunity to do something that isn’t normally presented to me. I thought it would be a good chance to do something for children who are less fortunate than I am.”

Year 9 students from Christchurch Grammar School working on the project. Photo courtesy Rachel Sheffield.

It would seem that just a making a project contextual and

This was a real-life problem and the boys were able to see that

interest all the boys in the class. It is therefore recommended that

the material they created was used to help children in Laos, and

a wide range of strategies would need to be employed to capture

that an alternative energy source was effective in providing the

the enthusiasm of a larger number of the students in the class.

school library with power to enable the children to read. The project was extremely successful in providing power to light up the Laos school library so that all the children can see to read and play in the library space. Was it, however, successful in motivating and inspiring the Year 9 students in the science class? Certainly 30% of the science class (five students out of the sixteen) were engaged and motivated to solve the problem spending several lunchtimes and after school time to test the panels. When asked to comment on their participation in the initial project two boys of the sixteen surveyed reported that they did not enjoy working on the project, whilst two more thought it was ‘a bit boring’, the


focussed in the real-world was not enough to engage and

References Aikenhead, G (2006) Science Education for everyday life. Evidence-based practice. New York and London. Teachers College Press Fensham, P (1985) Science for all: A reflective essay Journal of Curriculum Studies 17 (1) Jenkins, E.W, Nelson, N. W (2005) Important but not for me: students’ attitudes toward secondary school science in England. Research in Science and Technological Education 23(1) Millar, R, Osborne, J (1998) Beyond 2000: Science Education for the Future Trumper, R (2006) Factors Affecting Junior High School Students’ Interest in Biology Science Education International 1 Goodrum, D., Hackling, M., & Rennie, L. (2001). The status and quality of teaching and learning of science in Australian schools (Research Report): Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Wilson, J (2002) Student participation and school culture: a secondary school case study. Australian Journal of Education, June 2002 v46



The Lesser Known Side of Einstein (Science as a Very Human Endeavour) Frank Dymond, Edith Cowan University Under the heading of ‘Science as a human endeavour’ the

Another chapter is a copy of the handwritten notes used by Sir

National Curriculum for Science states in part;

James Chadwick at his speech at an international congress. The

“It acknowledges that, in making decisions about science and its practices, moral, ethical and social implications must be taken into account. It also acknowledges that science has advanced through, and is open to, the contributions of many different people from different cultures at different times in history and that science offers rewarding career paths. It identifies the historical aspects of science and is well demonstrated in contemporary science issues and activities.”

Neutron”. But my favourite is a reprint of a chapter from the book by Laura Fermi as she describes in vivid detail the building of the first atomic pile by her husband, Enrico. This includes a copy of the famous letter written by Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt urging him to authorise the development of the atomic bomb. What is important about these chapters is that they bring to life the people behind the science as much as the process of science. It is doubtful whether our students recognise that even

With our crowded syllabus and the pressure to ‘cover the course’ it

Einstein had difficulty in convincing President Roosevelt that the

is often difficult to justify treading just a little outside the required

nuclear race was urgent. Even more, do they know of his pacifist

essential material. Not that the intention is to add more science

views and who changed his mind?

content, rather it is to put some flesh on the scientists, such as Einstein, whose work they are studying. Scientific progress doesn’t occur in isolation from the personalities and foibles of the people who create it. Often it is the personality that determines whether a particular individual did not get the recognition they deserve and, conversely, the reason others did. This article is the first in a series that will attempt to persuade teachers that it isn’t necessary to spend whole lessons, nor even large parts of them, to imbue a sense of amazement in at least some of their students as to just what sort of person that scientist was. More than forty years ago Harvard University supported the development of a physics course for schools, which came to be known as ‘The Project Physics Course’ (Project Physics, 1971). The approach was years ahead of its time. A probable reason it was not taken up here in Western Australia was our preoccupation with a conceptual approach to the teaching of physics and the

This article is intended to provide some of the background to a remarkable man – not just the scientist. It is hoped that teachers will find time in their crowded syllabus to include a story or comment that will provoke their students to look a little further than the pages of the textbook.

Einstein, the man The early years Einstein’s birth and upbringing is well documented but biographies do tend to focus more on his adult years and, in particular, post 1905, the “annus mirabilis”. Born on 14 March 1879, he was slow to talk and was described by members of the household as “der Depperte” – the dopey one. He practised each sentence before speaking to anyone, much to the embarrassment of his older sister! (Zackheim, M. 1999, p.25).

emphasis the syllabus placed on mathematical manipulation of

Although born into a Jewish family, neither of his parents attended


the synagogue nor practiced their faith. They blamed Einstein’s

Project Physics was bold enough to not only incorporate a contextual approach but included the history of the events and people involved in the scientific discoveries. To assist teachers in this (then) radical approach they produced support ‘texts’ that they called Readers. These Readers focussed on a particular theme, such as ‘The Nucleus’, but consisted of a series of essays written by famous scientists (or their wives) both past and present. Thus we have an article by Ernest Rutherford published


speech was titled, “Some personal Notes on the Search for the

grandfather for this. When young Einstein asked his agnostic uncle why he attended if he didn’t believe in God, the reply was, “Ah, but you never know” ( Dawkins, 2007, p 2). As Albert’s parents were not concerned about his religious upbringing, he attended a Catholic primary school from the age of five to ten. It would seem that, not only did he enjoy the religious instruction that the school provided but it also influenced his view of religion and his perception of God.

in 1909 in which he points out the difficulty that existed in proving

However, a significant influence on young Einstein’s education

that the alpha particle is indeed a ‘charged helium particle’.

was to come from Max Talmud, a medical student who introduced


News him to science, mathematics and philosophy. Max joined the

this reason that he came to be working in the patent office in

family for evening meals one day a week and from the age of ten


tutored Albert for six years. Such was his influence that Einstein had completed a study of geometry two years ahead of his classmates (Zackheim, M. 1999, p.41).

In 1905 Einstein completed his doctoral thesis at the University of Zurich. This was the year in which he published his four groundbreaking papers. Most would know that this included his

Meantime he wrote his first scientific work, “The Investigation

famous Theory of Relativity and also the well-known equation

of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields, when just 15 years old.

of mass energy equivalence. Perhaps less well-known was his

Sadly it was doomed to failure since of course the Aether did not

explanation of an effect that had been discovered by a visitor to


Western Australia almost 80 years before Einstein’s paper. The

When he applied for entry to Zurich Polytechnic he failed the entrance examination. So he entered Aarau secondary school,

effect was Brownian Motion and the link to Western Australia was through Robert Brown.

from which he graduated at age 17. In 1896 he went back to Zurich

Robert Brown discovered the motion of tiny particles suspended

Polytechnic and enrolled in a four-year math/physics teaching

in a fluid in 1827 but it wasn’t until 1905 that Einstein explained

diploma. Interestingly, there was only one woman enrolled in the

it. However, Brown spent several years in Australia. Joseph

course, Mileva Maric his future wife (Wikipedia, p.3).

Banks offered him a position as naturalist on Matthew Flinders’ expedition. Banks arrived in WA in December 1801 and spent 42

The later years

days in WA over the course of the expedition (Ford, 1992, p 2).

Mileva and Albert were married in early 1903 but they already had a daughter, Lieserl, born in 1902. In those days an illegitimate

Einstein and his first marriage

child was frowned upon and, although it has been documented

In the early 1900s, Einstein moved to Berlin leaving his family in

that her parents looked after the child, there is only a sketchy

Zurich. During this period he communicated with Mileva almost

history of her. The story of Lieserl and her father is interesting

exclusively through letters. His granddaughter discovered copies

and gives a picture of Einstein the man that few would know

of these letters in 1986 (Zackheim, M. 1999, p. xi). The early

and many would find hard to accept from such a world renowned

letters from late 1890 to 1900 were romantic and intimate.

scientist. More about this later.

Certainly his letter to Mileva on the birth of his first child on 27

Einstein and Mileva had two sons, Hans Albert in 1904 and Eduard in 1910. Hans was to die in an asylum while Eduard became a Professor of Engineering.

January 1902 was full of compassion for both of them as it had been a difficult birth (Zackheim, M. 1999, p 39-40). However, not only did he not travel to see his first born, it took four days before he responded to the news of her birth. As the years of separation

How many of our students know that, not only did Einstein

continued, many letters from Einstein showed a cruel and non-

intend to become a teacher, but also that for two years after he

compassionate side that science texts do not admit to (Zackheim,

graduated he was unable to get a teaching position? It was for

1999, p. 69-70). When the two were finally married on 6 January

EMINENT SPEAKER SERIES Inspiring school presentations for yrs 8-10 by Darren Lomman, CEO and founder of the Dreamfit foundation Designing dreams for people with disabilities through innovative engineering solutions Curtin University, 14 June 12.30pm – 1.45pm

Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, 15 June 10.00am – 11.15am

Both events are FREE of charge and bus subsidies are available Contact: Claire Patterson on 92150739 or email PLC Western Australia



News 1903 it is clear from correspondence prior to the marriage that

• “I do not believe in a personal God.”

Einstein had no intention of recognising Lieserl as his child (p.

• “The word God is…nothing more than the expression and

48). Nor did he ever.

product of human weaknesses…”

In 1912 he commenced a relationship with Elsa Lowenthal (nee Einstein) a cousin twice over. This relationship appears to have prompted many of Einstein’s outbursts to Mileva but it is also apparent that Albert regarded her as a hindrance to his advancement. By 1914 he was clearly seeking an end to the marriage, having issued Mileva with a set of ‘rules’ that read like a job description for a maid. In a letter to a friend, he wrote, “…

most childish superstitions.” • On Jesus – “His personality pulsates in every word (in the Gospels). No myth is filled with such life.” • “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

men are deplorable, dependent creatures…but compared to

Finally, Cardinal Rabbi Herbert Goldstein sent a telegram to

these women, every one of us is a king…not constantly waiting

Einstein that read,

for something outside to cling onto” (Zackheim, 1999, p. 72).

“Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid. 50 words.”

He divorced Mileva on Valentine’s Day in 1919 and married Elsa

Einstein’s answer was, “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals

on 2 June 1919. Even this was not without its drama because at

himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God

one stage it seemed he might have been hoping to marry Elsa’s

who concerns himself with the fate and doings of mankind.” He

20-year-old daughter, Ilse (Zackheim, 1999, p. 76). Elsa Einstein

did not need 50 words.

died in December 1936.

When asked whether he believed in immortality he replied, “No.

Einstein’s beliefs

And one life is enough for me.”

Einstein was initially a pacifist but renounced his belief after

After his death

1939, the year in which he wrote his famous letter to President Roosevelt urging him to begin work on the atomic bomb. Alexander Sachs, an unofficial adviser to Roosevelt, agreed to deliver the letter. He was originally fobbed off by the president but after a second meeting later in 1939 he gained an audience

Within seven hours of Einstein’s death, Dr Thomas Harvey removed the famous scientist’s brain without family permission. Harvey preserved it in 10% formalin (“Albert Einstein’s Brain”, n.d.).

with Roosevelt. This was the birth of the Manhattan Project but

He then dissected it into 240 blocks, each about 1 cubic cm and

Einstein was not involved in the project.

encased them in collodion, a plastic-like material. Harvey was

There is evidence that he was already changing his pacifist


stance since a cartoon published in 1933 shows Einstein rolling

Einstein’s brain had no parietal operculum in either hemisphere.

up his sleeves and taking up the sword of preparedness (“Albert

Was this the reason for his incredible intellect (or perhaps his

Einstein”, p. 4n.d.). From 1937 he became an active Communist


member. Indeed, he was a member, affiliate or sponsor of 34 such organisations and chaired three Communist organisations. During this period he spoke against Capitalism and its “evils” and urged a “revolutionary overthrow of Capitalism”. Naturally the FBI got interested and amassed a 1427 page report on him by his death!

Einstein, like all scientists, had a life outside the science he created. It is often the interaction of the scientists with their other life that determined the progress of their science. Their up bringing, their beliefs, the difficulties that confront them are all determinates in whether they do make the breakthrough that makes them famous. Our students should be introduced to a little

His religious beliefs

more than the formula or law they developed.

It would seem that Einstein’s parents’ attitude towards religion


had at least some impact on his own beliefs. The following

Albert Einstein. (n.d.) Retrieved February 16, 2011, from Wikipedia: http//

quotations attributed to Einstein are from an interview with George Sylvester Viereck when he gave the following responses

Albert Einstein’s Brain. (n.d.) Retrieved March 16, 2011, from Wikipedia: http//’s brain

to a series of questions about his beliefs (Dawkins, 2007, p. 4).

Dawkins, R. (n.d.) Retrieved March, 2011 from articles/871

(Viereck was later jailed in America for being a German

Ford, B. J. (1992). Brownian Movement in Clarkia Pollen: A Reprise of the First Observations (Electronic Version). The Microscope, 40 (4): 235 241.

propagandist.) • “You may call me an agnostic” • “I am absolutely not an atheist.” 22

• “…the Jewish religion, like all others, is an incarnation of the

The Project Physics Course. (1972). Reader 6, Sydney, Horwitz Group Books Pty Ltd. Zackheim, M. (1999). Einstein’s Daughter, The Search For Lieserl. New York: Penguin Putnam.


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA

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out of Western Australian Universities, Science Network WA also invites you to visit <> to stay up to date with what’s happening in Western Australian Science.

Teacher Information Evening Scitech will be hosting its biannual free Teacher Information Evening on Wednesday 3 August from 4:30pm-7:00pm. Immerse yourself in the unique experience of our 2011 programs and hands-on activities, suitable for Kindergarten to Year 12 students.

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Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA He said the research aimed to assist global communities to better clarify and assess the impacts of climate change and to help predict future events through analysing the relationship between climate and severe weather. Professor Leslie has a long history of consultative work with community, government and industry groups around the world. His techniques and results, developed over decades of teaching and research, have been adopted and adapted by numerous research

Predicting global climate change and severe weather Curtin University meteorologists have developed sophisticated modelling techniques able to aid the prediction of extreme weather events as a result of natural and human-induced climate

Professor Leslie and Associate Professor Ren’s work is funded by Curtin’s Australian Sustainability Development Institute, US National Science Foundation, National Oceanographic and Atmos-

change on the Earth.

pheric Administration, NASA and Naval Research Laboratory.

The research by Curtin geofluid flow experts, Professor Lance

Their joint research has also featured in a number of interna-

Leslie and Associate Professor Diandong Ren, of the Australian

tional earth-science journals with further published work soon to

Sustainability Development Institute, focuses on climate change

feature in the Journal of Climate.

and its impact through interpretation of observations and output


from sophisticated climate and weather models.

Professor Lance Leslie, Australian Sustainability Development

Professor Leslie said the research would help to better predict

Institute, Curtin University

severe weather around the world, including droughts, sea level

Tel: (405) 317-2700 (Intl), Email:

changes, ice sheet and glacier melting, tsunamis and landslides. “Depending on the research area, improved predictions reside in the level of sophistication of the models, the applications of the models to mudslides, ice sheet and glacier melting, the use of advanced computational intelligence, as well as pattern recognition approaches to understanding the impacts of climate change,” Professor Leslie said. “For example, from our research we can predict landslide and mudslide probabilities by establishing rainstorm threshold totals for any area on the globe. “This means that if we can predict at least several days in advance how much rain there will be and if the rainfall exceeds the threshold, it will help governments and communities to be better prepared in the event of an evacuation for minimisation of casualties and damage.” Professor Leslie said his research was also aimed at providing more accurate estimates of how fast and to what extent the Greenland ice sheet and glaciers would shrink and therefore the impact upon the rest of the world. “Sea level rises can seriously affect low-lying, often heavily populated coastal areas which we can estimate more accurately from the predicted melting of the Greenland ice sheet in the expected future warming climate,” he said. “Our estimates into glacier shrinkage will provide information about whether or not the fresh water supply to one third of the world’s population, from the mid-latitude glaciers in the Indo-China mountain regions, will remain at sustainable levels.”


groups, including the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University Mobile: 0401 103 755, Email: Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne, Executive Officer, Australian Sustainability Development Institute, Curtin University Tel: 08 9266 1792, Email: Web:

Scientists uncover sweet finding A Curtin University researcher and team of experts from around the world have discovered that the earliest rocks in our Solar System are more like candy floss than the hard rock we know today. Published recently in the journal Nature Geoscience, the Science and Technology Facilities Council funded research, conducted by scientists at Curtin University, CSIRO, Imperial College London, the University of Liverpool and the Natural History Museum in London, provided the first geological evidence to support theories about how the earliest rocks were formed. Lead author of the study, Adjunct Professor Phil Bland, of Curtin University’s Department of Applied Geology, said the study added weight to the idea that the first solid material in the Solar System was fragile and extremely porous, much like candy floss. “This material compacted during periods of extreme turbulence into harder rock, forming the building blocks to pave the way for planets like the Earth,” Professor Bland said. “Much in the same way that pebbles in a river are altered when they are subjected to periods of high turbulence in water, our study makes us even more convinced that the same thing


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA happened to the early carbonaceous chondrite rocks, as they travelled through the turbulent nebula billions of years ago. “However, rather than smoothing their surface, as in the case of a pebble, our research is helping us to see that periods of high turbulence caused the dust to compact and harden over time to form these first tiny rocks.” Professor Bland said the findings came after researchers carried out an extremely detailed analysis of a fragment of an asteroid, known as a carbonaceous chondrite meteorite, which had come from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Edith Cowan University launches new collaboration with Rio Tinto Dampier Salt

“These rocks were originally formed in the early Solar System

Edith Cowan University (ECU) today launched a new research

when microscopic dust particles collided with one another,

collaboration agreement with Dampier Salt Ltd (DSL), part of the

sticking together and coalescing around larger grain particles

Rio Tinto group, which will pave the way for a unique series of

called chondrules, which were around a millimetre in size,” he

research opportunities in Australia’s north-west.


Initial projects administered under this research collaboration

According to Professor Bland, the approach used to analyse the sample could open up a number of new areas of research.

agreement will see ECU receive nearly $900,000 in funding over four and a half years to better understand the ecology and biodiversity of salt lakes and migratory bird habitats near DSL’s

“We used an electron back-scatter diffraction technique, which

operations in north-west Western Australia.

fires electrons at the sample so that researchers can observe

It is expected two new PhD, two Masters by Research and two

the resulting interference pattern using a microscope in order to

Honours students will be funded by these research programs,

study the structures within,” he said.

with two major research projects already commenced as part of

“This technique enabled us to study the orientation and position of individual micrometre-sized dust particles that had coalesced around the chondrule.” The team found that the grains coated the chondrule in a uniform pattern, which they deduced could only occur if this tiny rock was subjected to shocks in space, possibly during these periods of

the collaboration agreement. The first research project entitled, The Biodiversity of Lake MacLeod will span the next three and a half years and will see researchers and postgraduate students from ECU’s School of Natural Sciences examining the biological differences that occur across gradients of salinity and depth in salt lakes and how these differences change according to periodic flood events.


The second research project entitled, The feeding ecology and

Professor Bland said the new method would allow researchers,

habitat selection, feeding behaviour and foraging resources

for the first time, to quantitatively reconstruct the accretion

present at salt sites and how these are influenced by, or related

history of the most primitive solar system materials in great

to Dampier Salt operations.


“We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this agreement, which

“Our work is another step in the process that is helping us to see how the rocky planets and moons that make up parts of our Solar System came into being” he said.

habitat use of migratory and other shorebirds will focus on

provides ECU researchers with the opportunity to be involved in a unique series of research opportunities across Australia’s northwest,” said Associate Professor from the Faculty of Computing, Health and Science, Pierre Horwitz.

Professor Bland said the research team would next focus on how

The collaboration agreement will also ensure students have

the earliest asteroids were built.

access to DSL’s accommodation and laboratory facilities in


the north-west, research and sampling equipment, funds for analysis of samples, student bursaries and scholarship top-ups

Professor Philip Bland, Adjunct Professor, Dept of Applied Geol-

for research postgraduate students, and salaries for technical

ogy, West Australian School of Mines



Managing Director of Dampier Salt, Mrs Denise Goldsworthy is

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mobile: 0401 103 532 Email: Web: VOLUME 47 NUMBER 2 JUNE 2011

excited about the future collaboration. “Respect for the environment is central to Rio Tinto’s approach to sustainable development and at Dampier Salt, we understand 25

Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA that we operate a unique business in a unique environment and

“The National Pilot Malting Facility is a wonderful educational

it’s up to us to understand our environment,” said Ms Goldsworthy.

and industry resource, which will not only provide students with

“Dampier Salt is very proud to be in partnership with ECU for these two projects and we look forward to working together as we develop mutually beneficial research.”

state-of-the-art learning opportunities, but also will put Western Australia at the cutting edge of research and development, ensuring Australia remains internationally competitive with its malting barley.”

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox agrees. “This agreement is a wonderful opportunity for ECU to embark on influential research projects and we look forward to working with Rio Tinto as we further develop and expand on this research in the coming years.”

“ECU is proud to join with our government partners as we strive to lead the way in this international industry,” said Professor Cox. The facility was officially opened by Agriculture and Food Minister, Terry Redman, attended by representatives of Australia’s barley producers, breeders, maltsters and brewers, who were

The collaboration was officially launched by WA Chief Scientist,

encourage d to participate in opportunities arising from this

Professor Lyn Beazley, and was hosted by ECU Vice-Chancellor,

Department of Agriculture and Food and ECU innovation.

Professor Kerry Cox. Attendees from Rio Tinto included Managing


Director of Dampier Salt and recipient of the 2010 Telstra Business Women of the year award, Mrs Denise Goldsworthy.

Corporate Communications (08) 6304 2208 0422 326 745 pr@

Contact: Corporate Communications (08) 6304 2208 0422 326 745

Edith Cowan University joins forces to open innovative new pilot malting facility A new national pilot malting facility was officially opened at Edith Cowan University (ECU) on Thursday 12 May, which will support industry and strengthen the competitiveness of Australian malting barleys at international markets. The state-of-the-art facility, co-located at ECU’s Malting and Brewing Research Education Facility at the Joondalup Campus,

Refurbished geology lab opens in East Timor

will benefit Australian grain growers and the malting and brewing

A newly refurbished geological laboratory in East Timor is

industries through improved research and development. The new facility is a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia and ECU, and will be managed within the University’s brewing science teaching programs. The facility is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and one of only five operating worldwide. The facility is set to provide the Australian barley industry with high quality research and educational opportunities, to ensure

help geologists better understand its complex geological setting. A joint project involving The University of Western Australia, East Timor’s National Petroleum Authority (ANP) and State Secretariat for Natural Resources (SERN) and Italian-based international oil and gas company Eni, the renovated building was opened during a special ceremony in the East Timorese capital of Dili.

the close alignment of the production and processing sectors of

Project manager John Williamson, an Honorary Fellow in UWA’s

the industry.

School of Earth and Environment, was responsible for designing

“We see this as an extremely important piece of infrastructure

and implementing the project, with UWA Professors Myra Keep

that will not only support teaching and research activities but

and David Haig.

also provide us with the opportunity to engage directly with the

Professor Keep said the University had been asked to submit

Australian malting barley industry,” said Brewing Lecturer from the School of Natural Sciences, Mr Hugh Dunn. “This project represents a considerable investment in time and money by both Edith Cowan University and our project partners, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA so it is great to see it


expected to boost the fledgling country’s research capacity and

a proposal to turn the existing lab into a hi-tech facility for rock preparation and petrology. “The new lab boasts some of the latest technologies in preparing geological materials and production of petrographic thin

finally come to fruition with the official opening today.”

sections,” she said.

ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox, believes the new

“It has the capacity to operate as a one-stop shop for housing of

facility puts ECU at the forefront of brewing research and

geological sample collections, and their preparation on site for

education in Australia.

further analyses.


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA “The lab can be used for storing equipment and materials for

“Through our Energy and Minerals Institute (EMI), we provide a

processing paleontological samples as well as curating and

gateway for industry to engage with cutting-edge university

storing rock specimens collected during mapping and exploration

research across the depth and breadth of resource-related


issues,” he said.

UWA has also helped train SERN technicians to operate the new facility and equipment. Professor Keep said geological sample processing was highly skilled and required specialist training and constant practice. Eni Timor Leste Country Representative Tony Heynen said the

“Our University strives for international excellence and the appointment of a professorial chair and research staff in metocean engineering and offshore foundations will further our aim of becoming a leader in the field of oil and gas.”

refurbishment was the result of common interests between Eni

Shell Australia Country Chair Ann Pickard said Shell was delighted

Timor Leste, SERN and ANP to build capacity in the petroleum

to support the professorial chair.


“We see this as an important opportunity to contribute to

Mr Heynen said Eni held four production sharing contracts in the Timor-Leste Exclusion Area and was committed to providing support for petroleum infrastructure projects in the region. “Eni committed over US$1.1 million to this project and we thank SERN and ANP for entrusting us with this contribution and UWA for fully delivering the project in time and within budget,” he said. East Timorese company RMS Constructions carried out the refurbishment, with more than two-thirds of the workforce employed locally and sourcing 60 per cent of goods from within East Timor. Contacts: Professor Myra Keep (UWA School of Earth and Environment) (+61 8) 6488 7198 Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716

research that will benefit the whole offshore industry, and better equip Western Australia to fulfil its potential as a global energy hub. “Along with the deployment of what we hope will be the world’s first Floating LNG facility off the coast of Western Australia, Shell believes this professorial chair will help reinforce Western Australia’s position at the forefront of LNG technology.” The professorial chair aims to: • Improve collaboration between UWA’s research capability and Shell’s global metocean and offshore engineering groups; • Develop in consultation with Shell, metocean and subsea engineering short courses, workshops and/or lectures; • Create and maintain a recruitment program to attract the best and brightest students and researchers in this field;

Shell, UWA announce chair in offshore foundations A new professorial chair in metocean engineering and offshore foundations will strengthen education and research in Western Australia, according to The University of Western Australia’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson. The agreement between Shell Australia and The University of Western Australia involves the appointment of the Shell EMI Chair in Offshore Foundations-Metocean Engineering as well as two research assistant professors and two PhD students. An abbreviation of meteorology and oceanography, “metocean” is often used in the offshore industry to describe the physical environment around an offshore platform. Professor Robson said the new appointments would build on the University’s commitment to supporting and developing

• Improve readiness of UWA graduates for the oil and gas industry; • Improve techniques for forecasting metocean conditions and associated impacts on offshore oil and gas operations; • In collaboration with Shell, continually seek to grow and improve the metocean engineering and offshore foundations initiative to achieve world-class status. The University of Western Australia will now undertake a recruitment process to appoint the professorial chair. Contacts: Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716

the industries which continue to drive the Western Australian

Claire Wilkinson (Shell Media Relations) (+61 8) 9338 6271 /


(+61 4) 16 924 822



Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA It will feature a 3D walk-through of a municipal desalination plant, as well as an animated virtual journey through the desalination process. A purpose-built multi media room will enable video conferencing with schools around the country and live links with industry specialists. The Discovery Centre’s Edulab is designed to capture young people’s imaginations with the science and engineering of desalination technologies, fostering future generations of scientists.

Australia’s Desal Discovery Centre to open in September

It will engage up to 36 students at a time in scientific enquiry and

Australia’s first Desal Discovery Centre will be unveiled in

mix of demonstration and small group activities linking content

September - showcasing water security and desalination science to school groups, policymakers, industry and the general public. The Desal Discovery Centre is an initiative of the

discovery, and be run by a fulltime science educator, offering a to the relevant education curriculum. The Edulab will provide exposure to water and desalination

new $5

science and technologies not easily accessible to schools and

million National Centre of Excellence in Desalination Australia

give teachers the flexibility to choose from a range of activities,

(NCEDA) pilot testing facility being built at Murdoch University’s

adaptable to suit any age group.

Rockingham campus. Its September 4 official opening coincides with the International Desalination Association World Congress in Perth where thousands of water and desalination experts will gather. The Desal Discovery Centre fulfils a key part of the NCEDA’s

ABOUT NCEDA: fast-tracking economical, lowcarbon desal NCEDA is a consortium of 12 Australian universities and CSIRO

mandate to show the benefits and opportunities desalination

collaborating with Australian and international research

offers to both the Australian public and key stakeholders.

institutions, private companies, water and power utilities, and government agencies. One of the research streams is about economical low-carbon desalination technologies for urban, rural and remote uses being fast-tracked by NCEDA partners. The new $5million new modular pilot-scale testing plant will consist of a large tank farm, state-of-the-art modular laboratories, partner offices and access to the multi-media conference facility. It will draw a mix of saltwater and brackish groundwater from three bores into aquifers for treatment and recharging. NCEDA is now into its third round of allocating federal funding to important new competitive research projects - growing an existing 23 worth nearly $22 million towards a target of 50 completed desal projects by 2016. The ambitious research hub began as a 2009 Australian Government-funded initiative, under its Water for the Future program, to boost the largely arid nation’s capacity and capabilities in desalination in light of pressing water needs for public, agricultural and resource industries, and growing climate change issues. NCEDA is also working to increase the number of university graduates with specialist skills in desalination. It’s working with partner universities to encourage the introduction of more relevant Honours topics so both the number of postgraduates



Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA and the number of desalination companies employing PhD students’ increases. Contact: Tanyia Maxted on 0438 645 839 or

Study will examine exercise and appetite links A Murdoch university academic is investigating how and why hunger tends to increase after exercise and whether there is any way that relationship can be severed. Dr Timothy Fairchild from the School of Chiropractic and Sports Science has received funding from the McCusker Charitable Foundation to develop the three-year project. “Every time you exercise and burn off calories, your body will want to compensate for what it has lost which is why your appetite kicks in at some stage after you’ve exercised,” explained Dr Fairchild. “While the combination of exercise and decreasing calorie intake should result in substantial weight-loss – like in The Biggest Loser – it is this internal compensation which results in most people failing on their diets. “When you exercise more, your body sends hunger signals up to your brain, but if at the same time you are also trying to reduce how much you eat, these signals are amplified and you feel even hungrier. What my research will explore, is whether we can sever that relationship between exercise and appetite so that people who exercise can lose weight and keep it off more effectively. “A number of different hormones contribute to whether a person feels hungry so we will be pinpointing each of these and looking at what happens to them during and after exercise.

Research already undertaken in collaboration with staff at the University of Western Australia has measured some key hormones in people before and after exercise as well as their food intake. This research specifically looked at whether thirst has a part to play in affecting appetite after a workout. His studies will now focus on whether the type of exercise performed plays a role in affecting appetite after the workout and how this will affect weight status and body fat levels over the longer term. Dr Fairchild will also be continuing his close working relationship with chemistry professor Robert Doyle from Syracuse University, in New York. “Our work has culminated in a series of exciting studies which are investigating whether the attachment of hormones, such as insulin, to vitamin B12 will allow them to be taken as a tablet instead of having to inject them,” said Dr Fairchild, whose studies also include exercise physiology, nutritional biochemistry and

“A previous study recorded a 30% reduction in food intake at a


buffet-style meal in people who were injected with a certain

“The advantages of being able to take medication in the form of a

hormone. While this was very exciting, longer-term studies

tablet are considerable, especially if that medication needs to be

(injected every day for a period of days to months) have not been

taken multiple times a day, or when people do not have suitable

as successful with this hormone. The reason for this being that

facilities for disposing of used needles such as in some poorer

the body has developed multiple fail-safe mechanisms where


if one hormone starts to give ‘strange’ signals, the body simply ignores it and relies on other hormones to provide information.

“Professor Doyle heads one of the world’s leading laboratories which specialises in being able to attach two or more compounds

“So we know we will have to look at a series of hormones to

in certain ways so as to allow them not to interfere with one

unlock the link between appetite and exercise.”

another. We will be testing whether or not that new compound

Dr Fairchild said his research would also look into how different

works in the way it is supposed to work.”

types of exercise affected post-workout hunger and whether

Dr Fairchild is one of nine early career researchers in health

different hormones came into play depending on the physical

at Murdoch University who have received funding from the

activity undertaken.

McCusker Charitable Foundation.




ASTA Executive Convene in Perth The ASTA Executive were in Perth for a meeting from 20-22 May. As part of their weekend schedule they invited the STAWA Councillors and their partners to dinner. This was a wonderful opportunity for the STAWA Council to meet the ASTA Executive (if they had not already done so previously) and find out a little more about what ASTA does to represent each state Science Teachers’ Association at the federal level. For those STAWA Councillors who were able to attend the dinner, we had a lovely evening talking with Anna Davis, ASTA President, Steve Zander, ASTA President Elect, Deb Smith, ASTA Treasurer and Peter Russo, ASTA Executive Officer. For many of us we look forward to catching up with them again in Darwin at CONASTA60 in July.

At the dinner (left to right): Geoff Lewis, Anna Davis, Bob Fitzpatrick, his wife, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Teresa Clarke, Peter Russo, John Clarke, Sue Doncon, Bernie Hunneybun, Deb Smith, Steve Zander, Lauren Clarke.

Nominations for Life Membership 2011 Any member of the Association may nominate any other member for Life Membership provided that the nomination is seconded by a third member. The nomination must be forwarded to the President of the Association, in writing, at least two calendar months before the Annual General Meeting (by 1 July). The nomination should be accompanied by written evidence supporting the case for

normally expected. • Displayed significant leadership within the Association. • Displayed outstanding innovation in the Association’s activities.

Life Membership.

• Strongly supported the Association’s activities.

Each nomination for Life Membership is considered on its

• Enhanced the standing of the Association in the science

individual merits. To assist the Council to decide whether a nomination should be forwarded to the Annual General Meeting the following guidelines are provided. The guidelines give the Council an indication of the magnitude of the contribution a person needs to make to STAWA before the Association considers awarding a Life Membership:


• Performed service to the Association well above what is

teaching community of Western Australia. • Displayed an interest in the Association, teachers and students as a goal in itself. • Has a long association with the activities of the Association.


STAWA Council

STAWA Council 2011 Chief Executive Officer


Chair Primary Science Committee

John Clarke

Colleen Bakker

Natalie Birrell


Chair Science Talent Search


Sue Doncon

Julie Weber

Jodie Rybicki

President Elect

Editor SCIOS

Chair Electronic Communications

Bernadine Hunneybun

Julie-Anne Smith

Mark Lehmann

Vice President

Chair Publications/Curriculum

Chair Professional Development

Geoff Lewis

Glenda Leslie

Bob Fitzpatrick


Chair Student activities

Lauren Clarke

Warwick Mathews

The Science Teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Association of Western Australia

Warehouse Address

Chief Executive Officer

PO Box 7310 Karawara WA 6152

Unit 6, 10 Mallard Way

John Clarke

Cannington WA 6107


Head Office Resources and Chemistry Precinct

Contact details

Curtin University of Technology Building 500

Tel +61 (0) 8 9244 1987

Manning Road entrance

Fax +61 (0) 8 9244 2601

Bentley WA 6102

Email Web



Guidelines for Authors Introduction

Innovations in the classroom

These notes are a brief guide to contributors. Contributors

The editorial board members are keen to increase the number of

should also refer to recent issues of the Journal and follow the

articles in this section. We are always keen to review your ideas

presentation therein. Refereed articles are peer reviewed by the

about experiments, demonstrations, teaching techniques, hints,

Editor and anonymously by at least two reviewers.

Feature articles Feature articles should not normally exceed 3000 words plus figures, tables and references. Short concisely written articles are very welcome. Please use headings and sub-headings to give your article structure. We also welcome any other type of contribution. Reviewed articles are subject to peer review.

help classroom science teachers, especially beginning teachers.

Reference style SCIOS reference style is based on the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Examples of the most common references are:

In-text referencing In your text indicate references by author and date. For example:

Send the following to the Editor:

‘Smith and Jones (1992) investigated … resulting in increased

Note: if you cannot send your contribution in the following

enrolments (Moriaty, Jacobs, & Murphy, 1989; Robinson, 1995),

recommended form, please send it to the Editor in any reasonable

especially of girls (Andrews, 1994b).’



For refereed articles only

The reference list at the end of your article should provide the

1 Three copies of your manuscript printed double-spaced on one side of A4 sheets.

details of all the references you cited in the text of your article and no other references. For example: Smith, J. (1992). Physical Chemistry, (3rd ed.). Melborne: Longman Cheshire.

2 On a separate page, an abstract of 50 to 100 words, your name or names, affiliation, address, fax number and phone

Chase, A., & Smith, P. (1981). Hunter gatherers in a rich environment. Aboriginal coastal exploitation in Cape York

number and e-mail address where available. Because your

Peninsula. In A. Keast (Ed.), Ecological biogeography of Australia.

identity appears on this page only, we can ensure anonymity

The Hague: W. Jung Publishers.

in our review procedures.

Aubusson, P. (1985). The teaching of evolution. Australian

For all contributions

Science Teachers Journal, 30(4), 39–47.

1  A wordprocessor file of your work from any reasonably

Posner, G.J., Strike, K.A., Hewson, R.W., & Gertzog, D. (1982).

common wordprocessor. Please send the file as an e-mail attachment, on a CD, or on a 3.5” disk. 2 Diagrams generated by any common drawing program, or drawn in black ink on white paper or transparent sheets. 3 Photographs often increase the clarity and interest level of your work. Send your photographs as TIFF or highest quality JPEG files, with a resolution of at least 225‑pixels per inch. We can also use high quality black and white or colour prints, 35‑mm colour slides, colour negatives, black and white negatives, or black and white slides. If you want us to use only part of a photo please indicate on a photocopy how you want us to crop your image.

Accommodation of a scientific conception: Towards a theory of conceptual change. Science Education, 66, 211–217.

Spelling Use The Macquarie Dictionary. If it lists several alternative spellings, use the first. The only exception is in a citation, reference or quotation directly from a source that uses alternative spelling.

Copyright No other publisher should have already published our manuscript, nor should you submit it for publication elsewhere. If SCIOS publishes your manuscript then your text and graphics will become the copyright of STAWA. STAWA will, however, allow you to use the contents of your paper for most reasonable non-

4 Copyright clearance for any part of your contribution that is the copyright of a third party.


safety notes, computer applications and anything else that could

commercial purposes.

Contact details

Note to teachers: Parent permission slip must be obtained for

John Clarke, STAWA

any photograhs to be included in SCIOS.


Secondary school packages 2011 % discount


on any of these secondary school packages* *when you complete your package by 30 June.

Open Investigations workshop (Y8-9)


Science Investigation

Incursion: Technology (Y8-10)

Incursion: Beyond the Beaker (Science careers for Y8-10)

Robotics – Students are introduced to the concept of robotics and programming, the commonality of robots and possible careers in IT and robotics.


Digital media literacies – Students discover how new media has changed the way we communicate and how students can participate in their media environments.


Excursion: Digital Studio (Y8-12)

Students visit our Digital Studio Lab where they experiment with the latest programs and software to create, compose and arouse interest in the field of music, multimedia and animation. Regular package price is $11 per student for a standard group of 30 students.

Maths Incursion: Maths show and puzzles (Y8-9)

Students learn how maths is involved in our daily lives. Through our range of big and colourful puzzles, full body mazes and games, students are enticed to learn and practise mathematics – making maths FUN!


Students are inspired to pursue careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology as our dynamic Outreach presenters explore how science is relevant to your students’ lives.


Excursion: Use the force (Y8-12)

Students are introduced to the concept of energy and forces through an interactive presentation by one of our science communicators. After the presentation, students are encouraged to explore, experiment and explain a variety of exhibits at their own pace. Regular package price is $5 per student for a standard group of 30 students.


Excursion: Whodunit? Exhibition (Y8-12) Students participate in an exciting hands-on experience that appeals to the detective in everyone and learn about a variety of forensic science methods. The exhibition is accompanied by a Lotterywest Science Theatre show.

Excursion: Horizon – the Planetarium AND Excursion: CSI Forensics in the (Y8-12) Discover how maths is put into practise at CSIRO Lab (Y8-12) Horizon – the Planetarium. Our presenter will guide you and your students through the night sky and take you on an exploration of universal size and scale in the show ‘Powers of Ten’. Regular package price is $8 per student for a standard group of 30 students.

Maths Extra

Professional Learning for teachers

Available between 30 May to 10 June. Students use science inquiry skills to conduct an investigation on evidence collected from the scene of a crime. Through observations, results analysis and developing explanations students communicate their findings. Regular package price is $11 per student for a standard group of 30 students.

Discover what an open investigation involves and submerse yourself in motivating activities, whilst developing your students’ science inquiry skills. Through the easy flow of our Scitech Investigation Planners, you can support students to connect the elements of a science investigation, such as variables, fair testing and lab report write up.

Earth Sciences Excursion: CSIRO Lab ‘Rocks to Rockets’ program (Y8) Available between 13-24 June Students will explore the mining process from exploration through to properties of minerals and their identification and extraction.


Professional Learning workshop ‘Earth Sciences’ (Y8-10) Date: Wednesday 8 June, 9.00-11.30am Teachers discover easy activities that are enjoyable for both teachers and students. Participants receive a free ‘Earth & Beyond’ teacher activity and assessment book tied to WA Scope and Sequence. The package offers a professional development session for teachers and an excursion for $6 per student.

Earth Sciences Extra Do-It-Yourself Science

Our Geology DIY kits (Y5-10) assist teachers to

enthuse students in aspects of earth sciences. In the Geology-Fossil Fun kit, students explore how fossils are made and where they can be found. Students are encouraged to investigate the properties of minerals and rocks in the ‘GeologyRock On’ kit. The kits come with a teacher’s guide, student workbook and activity sheets.

Do-It-Yourself Science

Maths DIY kits (Y8-10) are developed

to assist teachers in developing logical thinking and problem-solving skills in students. The kit comes with a set of fun and interactive maths puzzles.

Please contact our bookings office on 9215 0740 to secure your spot or find out more information. For detailed information on all Scitech events and programs visit our website.

36th Professor Harry Messel International Science School (ISS) for year 11 & 12 Science students

ISS2011: Light & Matter 3–16 July 2011 at The University of Sydney Application forms are now available Go to - Professional Development In July 2011, 145 students from across Australia and nine other countries will meet at the University of Sydney for two weeks of cutting-edge science. Light and Matter will feature leading researchers speaking on subjects ranging from photonics and communications, to astronomy and cosmology — and featuring Prof. John Pendry, creator of the first practical “invisibility cloak”! Beyond the lecture theatres, ISS scholars participate in diverse activities — experiments, museum visits, lab tours, and social events such as an evening harbour cruise. These two weeks are often described by the scholars as “the best two weeks of my life”. All scholars are competitively selected at State level, and attendance is by scholarship only. The scholarships are valued at approximately $3,000 and cover return travel within Australia, full board at Womenʼs College, all events and activities organised by the Science Foundation for Physics and a copy of the official ISS book of lectures. For more information contact: Chris Stewart, School of Physics, phone (02) 9351 3622, fax (02) 9351 7726, email or visit:

SCIOS June 2011  
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