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ISSN 0157-6488


Volume 47 Number 1 March 2011

inside this issue: • Science Talent Search 2010 • Turning into Green Street • B  aldivis Primary School wins the National Landcare Schools Award



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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 Rosemary Evans Balga Senior High School







NEWS Baldivis Primary School wins the National Landcare Schools Award


Building a Frog-friendly Garden


Community Problem Solvers Build a Wetlands Ecosystem and


Environmental Education Centre

Lesley Glass Ballajura Community College

Turning in to Green Street


Suzi Greenway Perth Zoo

Easy Astronomy


Jennifer Pearson Edith Cowan University

Science Talent Search 2010


George Przywolnik Curriculum Council

Science Talent Search Category Winners


Rachel Sheffield Edith Cowan University

Glenda Leslie Awarded Life Membership


David Treagust Curtin University

Nominations for Life Membership


Shelley Yeo Curtin University

Sustainable Seas


EDITORIAL correspondence Julie-Anne Smith Perth Zoo

Book Review

Published four times a year by STAWA through

Marie Curie


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


Internet Resources for Teaching Units that deal


with Cardiovascular Prevention





Murdoch University


University of Western Australia







Editorial Welcome to the first issue of SCIOS

practical advice on how to get started on a new project that will

for 2011. The year is already looking

surely get students excited and wanting to know more about the

very busy, from a STAWA perspective, with a variety of inspiring learning opportunities



world around them.


SCIOS aims to support and promote the teaching of science

students and teachers at all levels of

throughout Western Australia. The journal acts as a means

schooling. You can keep up to date with what’s on offer from STAWA by regularly checking the website, subscribing to Catalist, and of course, reading SCIOS. These activities are made possible by

of communication between teachers and other educators, scientists, and consultants. We always welcome research papers, articles and news from our members and look forward

dedicated members of the Association with a passion for their

to receiving your contributions again this year. We also welcome

profession and a willingness to volunteer their time to inspire and

reports from students at all levels who may have completed an

promote science teaching. New members are always welcome –

exciting project. If you’re doing something interesting in your

and if you’re interested in joining one of the committees feel free to contact any of the committee chairs listed in the back of this issue of SCIOS. 2011 is the United Nations proclaimed International Year of Chemistry, International Year of Forests, and Year of the Bat. You can find out more about these initiatives by visiting the United

class, school or community, please consider sharing your ideas and successes through our journal. Best wishes Julie-Anne Smith

Nations website, which lists a number of events being organised throughout the year and also provides useful background information and resources. In this issue of SCIOS we present a number of articles with ideas on how teachers in Western Australia are already encouraging their students to be better caretakers of the environment. From motivating low-achieving secondary students to build an ecosystem study area at Hampton Senior High School to rehabilitating a derelict site in Kensington and creating a Children’s Forest south of Perth for which Baldivis Primary School won the 2010 National Landcare Award it’s clear that many of our schools are already engaging their students in actions towards conserving the natural environment. These are great stories to share in the International Year of Forests. If you’re looking for something different to do this year, you may find inspiration in our articles from the Gingin Observatory, GreenStreet and Western Australian Museum – Maritime, with ideas on how to engage students in science in their local community. Our writers provide a wealth of information and

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

Proudly supported by

SCIOS Deadlines for 2011



Articles and Advertising

June 2011

1 May 2011

September 2011

1 August 2011

December 2011

1 November 2011




Chief Executive Officer’s Report

Twelve months at Curtin Resources and Chemistry Precinct

Friday evening Keynote will be followed by the conference dinner. Saturday will consist of workshops and conclude with a sundowner. Future Science Conference will be held on the

The Science Teachers’ Association of Western Australia Inc. (STAWA) celebrates its one-year anniversary in our new offices. The move has brought many advantages, including new and comfortable offices, use of the Exhibition Space, rental profit from Osborne Park and new synergies with Precinct neighbours: Curtin University, the ChemCentre and Parker Centre. In 2010 STAWA co-hosted the International Year of Biodiversity. STAWA once again partnered with Curtin University and the

2 December 2011 at The University of Western Australia. The original concept of Future Science was for it to move amongst the Universities but Murdoch has been such a great host that up until now we have stayed with them. But it is time to move on. STAWA thanks Murdoch University for the many great years of support for Future Science and we look forward to returning in a few years time.

Department of Environment and Conservation for the launch

STAWA is offering support to schools in need of Small Group

of the 2011 International Year of Forests. The event, lead by

Moderation. For details visit:

Professor Lyn Beazley, was held on Friday 4 March from 4:30 pm


in the Exhibition Space at the Curtin Resources and Chemistry Precinct. STAWA is also planning to assist with the launch of 2011 International Year of Chemistry.

The December 2010 issue of SCIOS paid tribute to the late Emeritus Professor John de Laeter. John was STAWA Patron and a key advocate of STAWA, science, science education and

STAWA publications continue to be in great demand. We are also proud to be a part of the ESWA Exploring Earth and Environmental Science textbook. This exciting new text contains cutting edge science, particularly on climate change and geology, is full of colour and will be an in-demand resource supporting Earth

science outreach in Western Australia. STAWA and the scientific community share his family’s loss. Copies of the tribute issue of SCIOS were sent to Rob de Laeter for distribution amongst the family. Rob replied with the following message:

and Environmental science courses around Australia. STAWA

“I just wanted to say thank you for your letter and kind words,

acknowledges the financial support given to the production of

plus the delivery of a number of issues of the recent SCIOS

this book by Woodside. Without the support of Woodside the text

journal. I have delivered them around to the family and all Dad’s

would not have been produced. STAWA Councillors and Committee members are pleased to introduce you to a number of significant venue and format changes to our 2011 conference programs. The Primary Science Committee has recommitted to a two-day residential conference at the Vines Resort on 19-20 March. The CONSTAWA Committee is busily working towards the first CONSTAWA only Conference away from Muresk. CONSTAWA 2011 will be held over two days 27-28 May at the Esplanade Hotel and Notre Dame University in Fremantle. The format has also changed. Friday afternoon will be devoted to excursions and careers information/case studies.


grandchildren have a copy for keeps as well, which they will cherish.” Don’t forget to renew your membership for 2011. I encourage you to extend the invitation of STAWA membership to your scienceteaching colleagues. Please keep an eye on the website for upcoming conferences and workshops. All the best for 2011. Your Chief Executive Officer John Clarke 3

President’s Report Welcome to all our members for 2011.

WA Education Awards Finalist Beginning Teacher of the Year:

I trust everyone had a relaxing and

Luke Chapman (Hampton Senior High School)

enjoyable break and that you are looking forward to an exciting and busy year ahead. There’s a lot happening this year with some notable changes to some of our major events. We concluded 2010 on a high note with





Conference at Murdoch University. One

Teacher of the Year in 2010, we did have two out of the four finalists. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists. But let’s not forget the other great teachers who were nominated for these awards. The quality of our science teachers is massive and many of the nominees and winners were members of STAWA. Keep up the great work everyone.

of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the

At the end of last year the ASTA President Elect was announced

annual STAWA de Laeter Medal. I’m very pleased to announce

and I am very pleased to inform you that the successful candidate

that the STAWA de Laeter Medal for 2010 was awarded to Lance

is Dr Stephen Zander, Head of Physics, Christ Church Grammar

Taylor (Willetton Senior High School) for outstanding teaching

School. Stephen has been a member of STAWA since 2000.

and services to science teaching. This award was very special for Lance as John de Laeter had, for many years, been a special inspiration and driving force in his career. The presentation was made by Robin and Rob de Laeter. Our hearty congratulations go to Lance and our sincere thanks go to John de Laeter’s family for their support in presenting the medal at the conference. As always, Future Science was very successful and I’m grateful to everyone who assisted with organising the conference as well as those who helped on the day. Members’ time and efforts are what make the conference as successful as it is. Planning for Future Science 2011 has already commenced and there will be a change of venue this year. We’ve had many successful conferences at Murdoch University and we thank them for their support over the years. It is important; however, for STAWA to maintain links and partnerships with all the Western Australian universities, so this year, and for the next few years, the conference will be hosted

During that time he was on STAWA Council from 2000-2006 and one of our ASTA Councillors for STAWA from 2000-2005. He was also a member of the organising committee for CONASTA 49 in Perth in 2000 and on the initial planning group for the International Conference on Science and Technology Education (ICASE) in Perth in 2007. Prior to joining STAWA Stephen had a student membership of SASTA from 1976-1979. He then joined as a member of STANT Council in 1980-1983, then in 1985 and again from 1994-1999. During those years he held the position of President of STANT (1998-1999), ASTA Councillor Proxy in 1981 and from 1995-1999, Co-convenor for CONASTA 47 in Darwin in 1998 and was a member of the organising committee for CONASTA 30 in Darwin in 1981. Stephen has a long association with a number of STAs and ASTA over the years and is a very worthy ASTA President Elect. We extend our hearty

by The University of Western Australia. We’re looking forward to a

congratulations to Stephen and wish him well in his new position.

fruitful partnership with UWA and hope to see everyone there for

In 2011, CONASTA 60 will be hosted by the Science Teachers’

Future Science 2011 in December.

Association of the Northern Territory (STANT). It runs from 10-

In the latter part of 2010 there were a number of awards presented

13 July. I strongly recommend to anyone interested in attending

to teachers, technicians and schools in a number of areas. Some

that you book your flights and accommodation as soon as

of these are listed below with the winners and finalists:

possible as the conference is running in the peak tourist season.

WA Science Awards: Western Australian Science Educator of

Registrations for the conference are already open with the early

the Year

bird offer available for registrations before 1 April.

Primary: Brooke Topelberg (Westminster Primary School)

This year’s Primary Science Conference returns to The Vines

Secondary: Lynette Hillier (Newton Moore Senior High School)

Resort in the Swan Valley and has full weekend residential as well as day registrations available. It is running over 19-20 March.

Sherryl Crouch (Burrendah Primary School), Linda Townend

Registration has already commenced and I’m sure it will be a great

(Maylands Peninsula Primary), Tracy Brothers (Albany Senior


High School), Catherine Morritt (John Curtin College of the Arts) were finalists in the WA Science Educator of the Year Awards. WA Education Award Science School of the Year: Christmas Island District High School

Another event that is going through some changes is CONSTAWA 2011 which will be held from 27-28 May. This year it moves from its usual venue at Muresk College all the way to Fremantle. Planning is well under way and I’m looking forward to participating in the

Science Technician WA Education Award Finalist for School

new look CONSTAWA. Keep your eyes peeled for alerts regarding

Support Staff Member: Joy Unno Mindarie

this event on Catalist and the STAWA website.

WA Education Awards Finalist for Premier’s Teacher of the

Sue Doncon

Year: David Henderson (Rossmoyne Senior High School), Ravila Rajor (Roleystone District High School)


Although we didn’t have a science teacher win the Premier’s

President, STAWA



Baldivis Primary School wins the National Landcare Schools Award Judith Hill, Baldivis Primary School

It was a very excited group from Baldivis




travelled from Perth to Canberra as the Western Australian finalists for the National Landcare Award last year. Principal, Mr John Worthy, teacher, Mrs Judy Hill and students, Courtney




Tregonning were thrilled just to be attending the Awards Ceremony in the Great Hall, Parliament House in Canberra. The 2010 Landcare Award. Photo courtesy Judith Hill.

Baldivis Primary School’s entry showcased their most successful

venture of their environmental projects, the Baldivis Children’s Forest. In their afternoon’s presentation to the other state school’s finalists, the Baldivis Children’s Forest’s story was highlighted. Courtney told of the former students concerns: ‘‘What can we do, we are only children?”

the Baldivis Children’s Forest. In the face of radical change from rural to urban living, the children of the local Baldivis community to


This aspect of the presentation delighted the students and teachers from other schools as it was an aspect of landcare that many had faced in their own projects. Courtney and Tegan told about the Children’s Forest today, ten years on from its beginning. In 2010 it became an award winning environmental study centre that caters for in excess of 3,000 students from over forty schools

This was the catch-cry that underpinned the development of


Group photo of West Pak officials with representatives from Baldivis Primary School. Photo courtesy Judith Hill.




as well as running community-based programs for families. Tegan told the Canberra audience about some of the programs:


“Planting is done as part of the winter school activity days during

urbanisation in their district. The Baldivis Children’s Forest

which students take part in a broad range of practical, cultural and

project evolved through the determination of young people to preserve a representative portion of the region’s fast diminishing natural environment.

creative learning experiences. On-ground conservation work and monitoring has included making nest boxes for black cockatoos, possums and bats; feral bee control; weed management; survey and monitoring work (annual bird register, fauna night stalks and trapping, water quality monitoring, fungi and flora surveys) as well as a comprehensive Aboriginal cultural program.” It was indeed a wonderful experience to attend the National Landcare Awards Ceremony in the Great Hall Parliament House, Canberra. We were all delighted and extremely proud when we were announced the winners of the National Landcare Schools Award for 2010. Tegan recalled the night: “It was a great night, full of fun, chatter and music, excitement and I felt proud of all we had achieved.”

Principal of Baldivis Primary School, John Worthy, making the acceptance speech with students, Courtney Brown (left) and Tegan Tregonning (right). Photo courtesy Judith Hill.


Baldivis Principal, John Worthy, on accepting the award with Tegan and Courtney said:


News “We’re honoured to receive this award and are proud to be part of Australia’s Landcare movement. I’d encourage other groups to have children involved in their environmental activities – it is so important, as children are our future.” In summing up this fantastic experience, Tegan writes: “From a student’s point of view, receiving this National Landcare Award is a great achievement. It gives us national recognition


for all the fantastic work all our forest team has achieved and continue to achieve. It is great to be part of the Baldivis Children’s

Can you contribute?

Forest project and I look forward to watching the Children’s Forest grow over the coming years. As the Children’s Forest’s founding teacher, I was immensely proud of the school’s achievement in winning the 2010 National Landcare Award: “This award recognises the contribution of many people over the past ten years. Both the students and teachers, our fantastic

Yes of course you can. So can lab technicians and students… your

parents and community members; and especially our wonderful

Year 7 or Year 8 class could write a half page article with a photo

partners, The City of Rockingham and indeed our sponsors all

that we would love to publish. Here’s how.

of whom have listened to the ideas of children and made their We are keen to increase the number and variety of types of

dreams a reality.” Courtney’s message is to the future students who will continue

articles published in SCIOS. So if the answer is YES to any of the

the work in the Children’s Forest:

following questions,

“I think the National Landcare Award will inspire other students

we want to hear from you.

to join us in working to preserve our precious environment. We are the future and it will be our generation who will have to meet

really well?

the challenges of global warming and climate change. What our Canberra Landcare Award experience highlighted, was

Have you recently conducted a new experiment that worked

the number of schools and students across Australia working to

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

help the environment. I felt proud to be part of such a fantastic movement and especially proud to be the 2010 Ambassador for the Baldivis Children’s Forest.”

Have you tried a new teaching technique that was fun?

Do you have some helpful hints for new teachers (and not-sonew 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?

What successes have your students had in science?

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

• Baldivis Primary School students, Courtney Brown and Tegan Tregonning with Getaway’s Catriona Rowntree. Photo courtesy Judith Hill.


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



Building a Frog-friendly Garden Luke Chapman, Hampton Senior High School

Students at Hampton Senior High School designed and constructed an ecosystem study area for use by science students in the school. The ecosystem focused on a pond as the most significant characteristic. During construction we stressed features that students could implement in their own gardens to make their gardens frog-friendly. The project was undertaken by a group of students at considerable educational risk. They were removed from the mainstream science program as they had achieved “E� grades in previous years of study and the project was designed to reengage them in science by being hands on and practical.



News The area chosen is a well protected courtyard, situated behind the offices of administration services. It is surrounded by buildings or walls and thus is very shady. We observed during winter time, especially, that it stayed very cold inside the courtyard despite being protected from the wind. During summer, parts of the courtyard spend hours in direct sunlight. This necessitated the selection of plant species that were suitable to different environmental pressures. The courtyard itself was paved with small gardens around the outside. Students cleared the pavers away and set about landscaping the garden. The only constraint placed on the students was to include a pond and some ‘bog’ areas which

The greatest difficulty that students encountered was coming to

were created by using pond lining to create a waterproof ‘pot’ to

terms with the time required for these processes to take place.

develop areas that would stay moist for much longer. Students

Students struggled with the slowness of growth through the

were supplied with plants that were grouped by area – that is they

winter months and perhaps it would have been better to start

were selected to suit the physical characteristics of the different

the project in the spring with Year 9 students and run the project

areas within the courtyard. Students were taught how to plant

through into the following year with the same group the next year

using fertiliser and discussed a number of water saving features

continuing to monitor the project. As a result of the slow growth

such as mulching, and selecting plants that were considered drought tolerant. Students were also supplied with rocks and logs that they were able to place as they saw fit.

delayed until next year, meaning that the students involved will be in Year 11 and no longer involved in Science classes. However

As a result of this project student engagement increased

this will give another group the opportunity to pick up where they

dramatically. They were looking forward to science class and

left off from and see the project through to the final few stages.

enjoyed our trips to the ‘pond.’ It was refreshing to see them take an interest in many of the details, asking a lot of ‘why’ questions as they were constructing the area. They were later surprised to realise how many things they had learnt outside of the classroom. Most importantly students had something to be proud of that they had made themselves and they enjoyed talking about their experience with other students and teachers.


during winter some of the outcomes we had hoped for will be

The ecosystem itself will be able to be used by all students in the school once it is complete. It will be a place where students can study the interactions of living organisms as well as raising awareness of frog health in WA and educate all students on ways they can create frog friendly gardens. Photos courtesy Luke Chapman, Hampton Senior High School.



Community Problem Solvers build a Wetlands Ecosystem and Environmental Education Centre John Bailey, Kensington Primary School

The aim of Future Problem Solving is essentially to develop critical, creative and futuristic thinking skills. It challenges students to apply their imagination and thinking skills to some of the significant issues facing both the world of today, and the future, equipping them with the skills and vision needed to anticipate, comprehend and solve problems associated with these issues, helping them to have a positive impact in the society of the future.” The team spent a great deal of time identifying a range of issues or problems in their community (and other communities) that Fundraising for the project at Kensington Primary School. Photo courtesy John Bailey.

In October of 2010, after a year of hard work, a team of eight Year Six and Seven students from Kensington Primary School flew to Melbourne to compete in the National Finals of the international competition – Future Problem Solving. They had a wonderful time – socially and intellectually – and returned home fired up to take their project to the next level.

they believed needed to be addressed by someone. After much consideration they selected one and worked through the formal FPS processes required to define the problem, identify solutions, determine the quality of those solutions and then develop an action plan to be implemented. The plan had to be practical, achievable and valuable. The program assists students to work effectively as part of a team, to develop their problem identification and solving skills,

In February of 2011, the remaining students are still working hard and have reached the point where they are almost ready to begin construction of an environmental education centre and frog garden at their school. There is also just a little motivation to win a place in the Finals again, and this time, they hope to improve on the fourth place achieved last year. Is a place in the International Finals in the USA a possibility?

The program “Future Problem Solving is an international educational program for students of all ages from P-12 that focuses on the development of creative thinking skills. In particular, it centres on the skills of problem identification and positive solutions to those problems. Above all, it aims to give young people the skills to design and promote positive futures for the society in which they live.


Lara, Desiree and Amy preparing for the judging. Photo courtesy John Bailey.


News The students needed a project which would be practical, achievable and valuable. They wanted it to raise awareness about the environment, educate the community about the environment, to improve the school and to provide benefits to present and future students at the school.

The project Ultimately the team identified their project. At Kensington Primary School there is a very large hole in the ground – an old water sump – derelict and not longer functioning. It is very unattractive and it ruins the appearance of the rest of the school. It is surrounded by a broken and untidy barbed wire fence and is The team relaxing after the National Finals in Melbourne. Photo courtesy John Bailey.

to take leadership roles and to learn how to research effectively. It allows them to practise some public speaking, formal writing and to work towards improving their organisation skills and time management. It encourages creativity within a structure of analytical thinking.

filled with rubbish and weeds. It is dangerous to the students and they are banned from the site. The team decided that the area had great potential as a frog garden because of its large area, because it is already a moist hole in the ground and because it has many large native trees well suited to a wetlands habitat. It was a wasted space which could become a beautiful and useful space. It was decided to turn the area into a wonderful environmental education centre and frog

The program also offers the possibility of achieving local and

garden providing many benefits for the school, the community

even national recognition and it allows the children to support

and the environment.

the school community in a dynamic, measureable and valuable way.

The current situation The vision is to build a secure, attractive brick wall around an

The school

area of approximately 15 m x 10 m, pave and shade parts of the

There are several aspects to the program, however, at Kensington

area and build a classroom to house scientific equipment such

Primary School. Students in Years Four to Seven are focusing

as microscopes, water testing equipment, texts and teaching

on the Community Problem Solving (CmPS) component of the


program. Each year group works on a project for two years, with the expectation of achieving positive outcomes by the end of that time. For example, when selecting their project in 2010, the Year Seven students demonstrated that they were concerned about a great many things, including; pollution, crime, animal testing, land rights, battery hens, the health of the Swan River, homeless people, smoking, overcrowded prisons, obesity, graffiti, landfill problems, use of plastic bags, hybrid cars and fast foods. After “phase one” of the program one major issue kept coming up – The Environment – it was clear that the project would have to be related to the environment. 10

A last hot chocolate before flying home to Perth. Photo courtesy John Bailey.


News An amphitheatre effect will step down into the “garden” and

The students are in the process of meeting with senior staff

decking will be built around the upper edge of the sump area.

from Perth Zoo and a large landscape design consultancy group

Artificial ponds will be built at an upper level and these will be

who have generously agreed to work with the students and Zoo

maintained with pumps and permanent water flow for such

advisors to create the concept, develop concept drawings and

things as Western Pygmy Perch and to allow frogs to breed before

then produce the architectural drawings.

moving to the “bog” and “garden”.

The City of South Perth is a major supporter of the program and

The area will be planted in a way which will mimic native

has generously agreed to produce the engineering drawings (and

bushland, but will incorporate some wetlands into the lower

to provide all plants required to re-create the appropriate habitat

part of the basin. It is hoped that a wide range of invertebrates,

now and in the future).

reptiles, birds, amphibians and even small mammals might live in, or migrate through, the area and make use of it. Students will be rehabilitating an area of native bushland, creating a beautiful and tranquil area for the school and creating a classroom purpose built as an environmental education centre. The implications were enormous. The costs were enormous. The hurdles to overcome were enormous.

Once the drawings have been completed, the team will approach three major and multiple minor businesses (broadly speaking in the construction business) who have agreed to provide materials, equipment and trades to build the proposed centre and garden. Many other individuals working in a range of areas have agreed to support the project in different ways, including; providing media coverage, providing technical support, making cash donations,

The students have developed a multi-pronged program whereby they continue to research frogs (as well as other amphibians, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and any small mammals that may migrate to such an area), wetland habitats, the concepts of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the importance of conserving remnants of native bushland in an urban area. As well, they have had to identify and then obtain all required “permissions” – from the School Principal, the School Council, the Department of Education and the City of South Perth. They had to identify the sequence of jobs to be done and then they had to do those jobs, or find someone who could. After planning the project, the students identified, and then wrote over seventy letters to a wide range of prominent individuals, government organisations, local businesses, large and very large businesses, environmental organisations, local service clubs, local sporting clubs, the Education Department of Western Australia, Curtin University and more.

providing website designs, and donating materials beyond those required for construction. The team is hoping to begin construction before the judging of the work by the National Committee of Future Problem Solving Program. The project should be completed by the time they finish primary school – happy in the knowledge that they have conceived and completed an amazingly ambitious project. What a way to finish their primary schooling...and what a way to begin at Secondary School.

About John Bailey John Bailey is an education consultant (and still occasional teacher) working with children with special needs, and with their parents and teachers. He supports children with a very wide range of social, emotional, behavioural and intellectual needs and specialises in working with parents and teachers of gifted and very able students. John is employed half a day a week at Kensington Primary School to coach four teams of students from

The team has received a great deal of generous and encouraging

Years Four to Seven. John was the inaugural state coordinator

support as a result of these letters and personal contacts.

of the Future Problem Solving Program and has coached over

Perth Zoo has generously agreed to be a major supporter of

fifteen teams to National or International Finals. He is supported

the project and principal advisor (in all matters environmental)

by Sharron Linton-Davis – a parent volunteer who has very

to the students. The Zoo is going to provide ongoing seminars,

generously supported the program as an assistant for three years

education opportunities and curriculum support for students

and is now coaching one of the teams. The school’s principal, Mr

and members of the wider community in the new “environmental

Harry Tysoe, is a keen supporter of the program and has been

education centre”.

instrumental in ensuring its success.




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:




Turning in to Howard Nielsen, Green Street

Green Street is an innovative web-based network designed to

Sign up as individual Green Street schools

educate people about sustainable living.

This will enable schools to ‘walk the talk’ on being sustainable

Co-designed by Howard Nielsen, a former teacher, environmental

workplaces and all in the school community will be able to see

education consultant and school principal, Green Street uses the

how the school improves its Green Street Score.

latest web techniques of Caboodle Web as well as face to face

A special ‘green tips’ section could be developed for school

strategies to support those wanting to live in Green Street.

communities which will focus on aspects of sustainability that

“You really have to login and get a Green Street Score and travel

are more relevant for schools.

the Green Street site to appreciate the scope of the site”, Howard

Schools will be able to connect via a forum on successful ways to


reduce emissions in school communities.

“We trialled Green Street School Challenges in a few Queensland schools in 2010 and more are expected in 2011.”

Green Street as a process of community engagement on sustainability

There are at least three options for the utilisation of Green Street

School-based learning and community-based learning emanating

in school communities and creative teachers will likely invent

from school communities could integrate very nicely, with Green


Street as a conduit to promote and connect.

Green Street as a learning resource for students

In Samford Village in Queensland there are over twenty five

Green Street is a natural medium for young people as it uses a

businesses as part of the Samford Green Street Business

style which is intuitive for them and provides an opportunity for

Cluster and a new Green Street Business Precinct is forming in

easy learning and cross connection.

partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce.

The content of Green Street is complementary to the school

A Samford Green Street Cafe was held with over one hundred

curriculum at both primary and secondary levels and can be used

people participating, including groups from two local schools.

immediately as a learning tool.

Premier’s Sustainability Award

The engagement by students with their family in a home-based

The Samford Green Street project was a prominent part of

project to sign up to Green Street would be an ideal way to learn

work done under the umbrella of the Pine Rivers Climate Action

in a real way about sustainability.

Network which won the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Community

Classroom-based activity could lead up to and follow on from

Sustainability Award.

such family-based activity.

Overseas recognition for Green Street

School communities are able to connect via a forum on successful

A presentation on Green Street was made late last year at an

ways to reduce emissions in homes. Attractive prizes provided by schools would encourage families and schools participating via school-based activity.

international sustainability conference held in Karlsruhe in Germany. This year Green Street will be used as an example of innovative sustainability education at a think tank in Europe for Civil Society Organisations. Howard Nielsen is the only Australian representative invited to the think tank which is sponsored by the European Union.

Contact Green Street Green Street is ever evolving and the web designers, Caboodle Web, actively pursue new ways of engaging people in ways of living sustainability. Readers of this journal are encouraged to login to <www.> to see it in action and to contact Green Street directly on <> or by phone on 0407 190162 to talk with Howard Nielsen about the latest ideas for schools and to find out about the availability of printed Samford Green Street Café. Photo courtesy Howard Neilsen.





Easy Astronomy Donna Vanzetti, Gingin Observatory

Astronomy is a fascinating subject and always catches the

Another familiar object that has finally returned to the night sky

attention of students. However, it can also be quite challenging,

is the constellation of Orion the Hunter. The stars form the better

especially the practical side where teachers may want to do some

known asterism, the Saucepan and through March and April,

stargazing with students. Sometimes the hardest thing to know

will lie high in the northern sky. If you train a telescope onto the

is just where to look in the night sky.

middle star in the handle of the saucepan, you will find that it is

Over the coming year I will be writing a column that will help you find spectacular objects such as Saturn, Venus, amazing nebulae and even some galaxies! This will help you to show off the beautiful night sky to your class and assist you with information about the incredible Universe and the objects within it. Searching for interesting targets in the night sky with a telescope can be difficult, so this makes the Moon a favourite and breathtaking target.

not a star at all but the spectacular gas cloud of the Orion Nebula, where new stars are being born. Within this region, clumps of gas and dust called a molecular cloud contract under the pull of its own gravity and split up into smaller clumps. They warm up as they continue to shrink and grow more dense. Eventually they start to glow. At 10 million ÂşC, nuclear reactions start and new stars are born. This is the closest star forming region to Earth, lying 1,500 light years away. Well worth a look! We are so lucky here in Western Australia to have some of the

You only need a small telescope to study the Moon and there are many interesting areas to explore on its surface. The lighter areas are rugged, cratered highlands known as terrae. The word terrae

clearest and darkest skies on Earth, so why not share the night sky with your students and inspire them to become interested in astronomy and space science.

is Latin for lands. Many craters in the terrae exceed 40 kilometres in diameter. The smoother, darker areas on the moon are known as maria. The word maria is Latin for seas; its singular is mare. Very early astronomers thought these areas were great seas. The first moon landing was in the Mare Tranquillitatis or the Sea of Tranquillity. The maria are cratered landscapes that were partly flooded by lava when volcanoes erupted. The lava then froze, forming rock. Since that time, meteoroid impacts have created craters in the maria. The best time to view the Moon is during a crescent or quarter phase and a great area to study is the terminator, the dividing line between day and night. Valleys and mountains of the Moon will stand out in stark relief at the edge. March 10, 11 and 12 will see the quarter Moon lying overhead. By 20 March the Moon will be full and you will also see a bright star lying directly below it. This is Saturn! So a double delight for stargazers to enjoy and an easy way to find Saturn in the sky.


Orion diagram. Image courtesy Donna Vanzetti.



Science Talent Search 2010 Julie Weber, Chair – Science Talent Search

In 2010, 825 students participated in the 52nd Science Talent Search competition, completing 572 entires of which 267 were submitted for final judging. Each year an overall Primary and Secondary student and school winners are selected from entries received. Congratulations to the following winners: Primary student: Maya Barnett (Richmond PS) Secondary student: Ashkan Moradi Zaniani (Shenton College) Primary School: Woodlands Primary School Secondary School: Willeton Senior High School All place-getters in the Research Investigation category were entered into the 2011 BHP Billiton Science Awards. These awards are sponsored by BHP Billiton and CSIRO, and are endorsed by ASTA. The BHP Billiton Science Awards present a considerable number of significant cash prizes to primary and secondary students. The overall winner and runner-up of the BHP Billiton Science Awards is given the opportunity to compete

Tracy Brothers, ZunMing Lim and Julie Weber at the BHP Billiton Science Awards 2011.

• STAWA membership

at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the USA.

A new category, Inventions, was added to STS 2010. The

All primary finalists received prizes and one secondary entry,

introduction of this category enabled six entries to be selected as

ZunMing Lin from Canning College, was selected as a finalist in

finalists in the WA Innovator of the Year Schools Competition.

the BHP Billiton Science Awards.

Each of these finalists received $300.00 for entry into the

Each year STAWA nominates a teacher for the BHP Billiton Science Teacher Award. The nominee for 2011 was Tracy Brothers from Albany Senior High School. Each state nominee was invited to Melbourne in early February to attend the judging of the teacher award and the BHP Billiton Awards ceremony. The winner of

competition, with winner receiving an extra $1000.00 and runner up $500.00. The WA Innovator of the Year Schools Competition 2010 was run by the Department of Commerce and aimed to promote a culture of innovation and creativity within Western Australian schools.

the BHP Billiton Science Teacher Award is invited to accompany

Congratulations go to the winner and runner up of the WA

the student winners to the Intel International Science and

Innovator of the Year Schools Competition STS category:

Engineering Fair in the USA. STAWA’s nominee for this award was selected based on the following criteria: • quality of student entries into STS • participation in science talent search for a number of years

Winner: Abigail Ashford (Year 5 Quintilian School) - Cutting assistant taco Runner-up: Sonali Fernando, Rickeeta Walley and Imogen Charles (Year 9 Willetton SHS) - Easily cleanable fridge cooler bag Changes were made to categories in 2010, including entry requirements, age groupings and the assessment criteria for judging. These changes were made due to feedback received in the past, alignment with Australian Curriculum age groupings for Science Inquiry Skills and to ensure entries being passed on to other competitions aren’t disadvantaged. An STS booklet wasn’t published in 2010 although all the information was available online. However, in response to feedback from participants a booklet is being produced this year. I would like to congratulate all students who participated in the 2010 STS competition and their teachers for supporting and encouraging them. A special thank you goes to the judges of the competition. STAWA looks forward to your participation again

2010 Science Talent Search Competition winners. Photo courtesy Julie Weber.


this year. If you haven’t participated in STS keep an eye out for information about the 53rd STS competition early in 2011.



Science Talent Search 2010







Science Talent Search Category Winners Category 1: Research Investigation

Category 2: Science Communication

Year K-2



Years K-2

Caleb Piggott (Floreat Park PS) – My science project

Years 3-4 1 Maya Barnett (Richmond PS) – How to keep snails out of your letterbox 2nd Lauren Johnson (Woodlands PS) – Which netball activities increase heart rate the most? st

Year 5 1st Jessica Low (Holy Spirit School) – Race to the finish 2nd Charlotte Laing (Holy Spirit School) – The best environment for ripening pears Year 6 1st Julian Atlas (Carmel PS) – Do children hear better than adults? 2nd Connor Jenkins (Holy Spirit School) – Don’t sweat it 3rd Matthew Oxford and Scott Glassby (Lesmurdie PS) – Onions make you cry Years 7-8 1st Taylor Lloyd (Mercedes College) – How temperature effects the amount of carbon dioxide in soft drinks Owen McConney (Lesmurdie PS) – Parachutes: does size 2nd  matter? 3rd Haydn Dungey (St Stephen’s School - Greenwood) – Does music affect the growth of plants? Year 9

Photography Years K-1 1st

Seamus Walton (Woodlands PS) – Things I burnt

Year 2 1st

Paul Payne (Woodlands PS) – How the computer works!

Years 5-6 1st

Sam Oldfield (Floreat Park PS) – Ladybirds

Years 7-8 1st Taylor Makrides (St Mary’s AGS) – Carnation flower Lucy Inman (St Mary’s AGS) – Horrific effects on the 2nd  environment Years 9-10 1st Taylah May Clancy (Leeming SHS) – To use analogy to explain difficult scientific concepts Mulitmedia Years 5-6 1st Joanna Michael (Woodlands PS) – How smoking affects the body

1st Sangeetha Ravindran and Yu-Ting Wang (Willetton SHS) – Can the temperature above the downlight set light to the insulation? nd 2 Stephen Lamb (Willetton SHS) – Efficiency of electric motor 3rd Kiah Grogan, Hannah Iffla and Ella-Jane Bird (Albany SHS) – Is the abundance and distribution of wading birds related to invertebrate density in the sandflats?

Years 7-8

Year 10

Category 3: Inventions

1 Ashkan Moradi Zaniani (Shenton College) –  An investigation of aquaponics and growth rates of commercially valuable vegetables under different hydroponic systems using the process of nutrient stripping nd 2 Michelle Lim (Shenton College) –  Electromagnetic radiation from common household appliances 3rd Ben Horsman and Michael Freakley (Lesmurdie SHS) – Motor bike braking investigation

Years 5-6


Years 11-12 1st ZunMing Lim (Canning College) – Is the identification of pattern the missing link between colour and its effect on memory? Brittany Henderson (Shenton College) – BMI and taste 2nd  sensitivity 3rd Christine Hartley (Shenton College) – Brain plasticity in the ageing human brain 18

1st Callum Johnson (Woodlands PS) – Take the bus to help the environment 2nd Elizabeth Martin (Armadale PS) – You can keep the Earth healthy! 3rd Nicholas Payne (Woodlands PS) – Walk to school

1st Talani Newton (St Mary’s AGS) – Ananlysis of running gate 2nd Jason Michael (Woodlands PS) – Osteoporosis 3rd Catherine Bock (St Mary’s AGS) – Why do onions make you cry? Years 9-10 1st Trent Stanley (Kelmscott SHS) – Nuclear fusion: inside our star

1st Abigail Ashford (Quintilian School) – Cutting assistant taco (for cutting bread rolls) 2nd William Bailey (Quintilian School) – Waterproof socks 3rd Mike Keating (Quintilian School) – Velcro vegetable cutter Years 7-8 1st Tarin Porter (St Mary’s AGS) – Smudge free: a left-handed writing glove 2nd Isobelle Purbrick (Mercedes College) – A manually operated impact nail driver 3rd

Olivia Webb (St Mary’s AGS) – Clip-on high heels

Year 9-10 Sonali Fernando, Rickeeta Walley and Imogen Charles 1st  (Willetton SHS) – Easily cleanable fridge cooler bag 2nd Euclid Kosasih and Louis Yeo (Willetton SHS) – Solar eco fridge 3rd Vanessa (Pey Wen) Lee and Noor-Ul-Ain Sultana (Willetton SHS) – Warm fuzz3h slippers.



Glenda Leslie Awarded Life Membership Congratulations are extended to Glenda Lee Martin Leslie, who was awarded a STAWA Life Membership at the Annual General Meeting last year in recognition of her many years of outstanding service to the Association. Glenda began her science teaching career at Merredin Senior High School in 1976 and has been a member of STAWA since the early 1980s. She has been an outstanding role model and active participant on a number of committees including SCIOS and Publications. She has presented many sessions at CONSTAWA, CONASTA and Future Science in the areas of curriculum change, biotechnology in the classroom, fun science (eg Supermarket Science and Breakfast Science), and activities for WACE human biology and biology. In 1988-1989 she was the Chair of the Science Talent Search Committee and introduced a number of new initiatives that saw entries increase significantly over the next few years. Among her other achievements, in 1990 Glenda was the recipient of the Inaugural UK-Australia Exchange Fellowship from the Australian Science Teachers’ Association and the Department of Employment, Education and Training. This involved a threemonth study tour of the UK. It was awarded for her work in developing and implementing an investigation-based program for Year 8 gifted and talented students at Duncraig Senior High School. One of her most recent and significant achievements has been

materials. These have become the main activity support materials

in leading the development of a series of three workbooks for

for WACE Human Biological Science teachers and have provided

Human Biological Science, and complementary teacher resource

STAWA with ongoing income.

Nominations for Life Membership 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

• Performed service to the Association well above what is 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:


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.



Sustainable Seas Shiona Herbert, Western Australian Museum – Maritime Year 3 students from Mosman Park Primary School recently

attended the program, remarked “that the Global Warming role

enhanced their knowledge of how to look after the environment

play was a very good simplified explanation of the process that

by participating in the Sustainable Seas program at the Western

occurs. The children will remember it because they were actively

Australian Museum – Maritime.

involved in the demonstration of how carbon dioxide heats up

Students were guided through the Museum by Education


Officers and heard, described and discussed different viewpoints

Year 3 student Will revealed his new knowledge from the guided

relating to issues related to fish piracy; drift net fishing,

tour: “I liked how Aboriginal Fish Munga’s (fish traps) caught fish

pearling aquaculture, sustainable aboriginal fishing practices,

in a sustainable way compared to the big drift nets that are used

and global warming and its impact on the rising sea level. They

today – they catch too many undersized fish as well as turtles

also participated in the Hooked On Fishing role play to practice

and dolphins.” Teacher Heather Mernick commented that the

sustainable fishing methods by measuring their catch; releasing

whole class found the information presented by the Education

undersized fish and being aware of bag limits. Year 3 student

Officers and the discussions about the sustainable use of the sea

Sofia revealed: “It’s important to limit the amount of fish we catch

extremely interesting. “We have talked a lot about sustainability

and to put back undersized fish so that we can keep generations

in class and this excursion really made it meaningful for the

of fish going.”

students. Most of them said it was the best excursion they’ve

The class revealed an impressive understanding of the issues related to climate change from their participation in the Global

ever been on and they were all amazed at how much they learned at the Maritime Museum. “

Warming role play in which they acted as carbon dioxide

With sustainability being an important aspect of the curriculum,

molecules catching units of heat from the sun warming up the

it’s important that young people are aware of the things they

atmosphere. After participating in the role play, Year 3 student

can do to protect our marine environments. Mosman Park Year 3

Isabelle explained global warming in a nutshell: “Carbon dioxide

students are well on the way to knowing that their behaviour can

catches heat from the sun. We are putting more and more carbon

make a difference in the sustainable use of the sea.

dioxide into the atmosphere from cars and factories which heats up the global temperature even more. This leads the polar caps to melt which makes the sea level rise. This rising water can take over islands and people have to move.” Parent helper Linda, who

For excursion bookings and further information contact Western Australian Museum Maritime Education on telephone (08) 9431 8455 or email

26 August 2011 – Closing date for 2011 Talent Search 2011 Competition SCIENCE TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION OF W E S T E R N AU S T R A L I A


2 May – Professional Development National Geographic

29 September 2011 – Physics Day @ Adventure World 2011


The opportunity for Year 10, 11 & 12 Students to mix physics with fun at Adventure World! Featuring activity workbooks, numerous fun and educational displays for up to 1500 students from around WA. Further information at

Half day PD on Environmental Education through Science, aimed at Primary Science Educators. Held at Curtin University, Perth. 3 & 4 May – Professional Development Chemical Safety Course

Science for Kids (S-Kids) – Date to be confirmed in September.

1 day course and 1 day refresher course. Details on

Science Fun for Primary School age kids. Includes lunch and activities. For further information please see

Held at Belmont City College, Belmont, Perth.

2 December 2011 – Future Science Conference 2011

27 & 28 May 2011 – CONSTAWA 2011 Residential conference held at the Notre Dame University, Fremantle, with accommodation at the Esplanade Hotel. Aimed at secondary school science teachers, laboratory technicians, tertiary educators and institutions. Places limited to 200. Register at


Science Talent Search Competition entries to be received by this date. Awards date is 21 September 2011. For further information please see

To be held at UWA and provides a wide variety of future science workshops and papers for science educators. Places limited to 250. Register at Any enquiries, please call (08) 9244 1987 or email


Book Review

Marie Curie Suzanne Matara, Curtin University Student Title:

Marie Curie


Reid, Robert William

Date: 1974 Published: London, Collins ISBN:

0002115395 : 0002115395

Introduction The following book review is done chapter by chapter and the application to classroom science teaching of the book thereafter.

Polish childhood Maria Sklodowska last born in a family of five and later to be called Madame, Marie Curie was born in November 7, 1867, in Warsaw a city that had been once the capital of Poland. This was a time when the generation of Poles were struggling for the existence of their nation. Marie’s parents raised their children to be patriots of a country that never existed as the countries around Poland had divided it and merged the pieces. Warsaw was under the czar of Russia.

Positive girlhood Maria’s family and other Polish people that were determined to defend their tradition and customs did not find it easy in Warsaw at this time. Maria’s parents being teachers valued education and spent time teaching their children the value of hard work and education. This influenced Maria to begin her education early. She is said to have had intense powers of concentration and possessed a remarkable memory. Unfortunately, her father was forced out of a good teaching job because of his polish beliefs and as such the family suffered financially. Maria and her sister Bronia knew that only further studies, probably out of Warsaw would mend the situation. By the time Marie was 15 her mother had died of tuberculosis and her elder sister too. She however managed to graduate from secondary school with honours when she was sixteen, receiving a gold medal for her work. Unfortunately, she fell ill after school and suffered from depression that she could not manage to do anything so the father sent her to stay with the cousins in the countryside for one year.

Breaking the bond Education drew Maria back to Warsaw. At this time women were not allowed to study at the University, so Maria and her sister Bronia joined other students who were meeting at night so as to run away from the authorities, czar police. With this they realized that they needed to go abroad to get a formal degree. Since finances were a challenge, the two sisters made an agreement. Maria would work as a governess and help Bronia finish her medicine degree and as soon as she started practicing the favour would be returned. I find this a complete act of selflessness and trust. So for three years Maria spent time with a family she was hired into to teach their children. At her free time she coached other children in the farm and also read widely. She discovered her liking for physics, maths and chemistry. She managed to get some


laboratory lessons from a chemist who worked in the industry near to where she stayed. After three years Maria returned to Warsaw but continued to work as a governess. Her father was now working in a reform school and was earning good money so was able to support Bronia. Maria secretly studied chemistry in the museum on Sundays as it was illegal to train polish scientists. As soon as she turned 24, she realized that she had saved enough money to pay her university education. Bidding her father and Poland goodbye she left for Paris. Emancipation and the existing contradictory social theories she had been opened up to pushed her away from the family she loved especially her father.

Paris Staying so far away from home for the first time, Marie focused so much on her studies finishing her physics and maths degree in three years. The exemplary work in physics earned her a scholarship to investigate the magnetic properties of various steels.

Pierre In the search for a laboratory to do her experiments, Marie was introduced to Pierre Curie in 1894. Pierre was the laboratory chief at the school of industrial physics and chemistry. The laboratory was not in the best condition but he let Maria who had now changed her name to Marie work there. He had himself made tremendous discoveries in magnetism and crystals but had not finished his doctoral thesis. Sooner or later they started dating. Pierre convinced Marie not to return to Poland for good but pursue science in Paris. In 1985 they got married. Marie continued her studies and finished after two years. Shortly after submitting her thesis, she gave birth to their first daughter, Irene. Pierre’s mother died at this time and to keep the father occupied so as not to get depressed, they allowed him move in with them so as to help take care of Irene as they were both busy with their work and research. Marie was now concerned with finding a research topic that could earn her a doctorate in science.

Discovery Two physicists had discovered some rays earlier. Wilhem had discovered rays that could travel through wood or flesh. Henri Becquerel discovered that minerals containing Uranium also gave off rays. Marie decided to pursue the uranium rays. She had to conduct her own experiments as not much work had been written about this topic. She also needed a lab that was not forthcoming so she settled for a storeroom that was damp and crowded, in the school where her husband was teaching. Testing various different compounds that had uranium, she discovered that the strength of the rays depended on the amount of uranium not the form of the material. As she continued to work with pitchblende that was rich in uranium, she discovered that it gave out more radioactivity than the amount of uranium in it and there was no thorium in it. She figured that there could be another element not discovered yet and with this, Pierre left his work to help find it. After along search, they discovered two elements, polonium that was named after Marie’s homeland and radium. These elements were doubted by other scientists. Industrialists and generally the public were however amazed at this. Pierre proved that radium could give out light as well as heat. He used himself to show the damage it could cause on human flesh. This posed a possibility of the cancer treatment research. Even with this entire discovery, the Curies did not benefit much financially. They had to take up extra teaching jobs to meet their needs. 21

Book Review The prize After Marie submitted her thesis, she was the first female to receive a doctorate in France. Fame and publicity then befell both Marie and Pierre. This award gave them opportunities as Pierre was appointed professor in Sorbonne University and hired Marie as Laboratory chief. In 1905 the Curies won the Nobel Prize for their work along with French physicist, Antoine Henri Bacquerel, who had first discovered natural radioactivity. But they both fell too ill and busy to go and receive their Nobel Prize in Sweden. In 1906,Pierre was walking from the library in the morning, he slipped on the wet street and a horse drawn wagon ran over his head killing him instantly.

The widow A day after the funeral Marie went back to work. She was appointed in the same capacity as her late husband. Dealing with claims from other scientists that radium was a compound not element, it took her other several years to prove that it was indeed an element. She also worked in establishing a scientific institution in Pierre’s memory.

The breath of scandal Marie was a mother of two at this time and she juggled within being a mother, a researcher and building the memorial radium institute in memory of her husband. At the same time rumours were going round that she was breaking up some couple’s home. One of Pierre’s brightest students had fallen in love with her. The public were blaming her, intruding her house which forced her to take refuge at her friends.

The terrible year Marie was honoured with a second Nobel Prize for her work in polonium and radium and she travelled to Sweden to accept it. A few months later she suffered from kidney problems and went into depression. She was out of her work for a while.

War In 1914 the Germans invaded France and at this time all research had to halt. Marie was determined to use her discovery to help the wounded soldiers so she set up x-ray stations where doctors would help the x-rays locate the bullets in the solders bodies. She also made the gas radon and packed it in small tubes. This was used to treat diseased areas in the body.

America When the first war ended, Marie was looking for means to fund her project, the radium institute. She now had good support from all sectors ranging from private, public and other scientists. An article in one of the USA magazines ran an article on her campaign and she had to make a trip there which she did with her girls. The trip had paid off immensely as she returned with a gram of radium enough to fuel many of experiments, money and equipment for the institute. Great discoveries were made at the institute including artificial radioactivity by her daughter. She died in 1934 due to aplasmic anaemia caused by exposure to excessive radiation.

Application to classroom science teaching Marie Curie’s story is an excellent inspiration for teachers with girls’ science classrooms. Gender inequality battles have well been among us, and unfortunately their ongoing debates have left permanent belief in some of us. Some societies still argue that science should be left to the boys as it is too hard for the girls to bother. It is obvious that the success of Marie however is attributed to her hard work and perseverance and nothing to 22

do with her sexuality. Her story is therefore a great reference to encourage girls doing science that the sky is the limit. It is important to let students know that hard work is paramount for achieving greater heights and this is relevant in all areas including studying science. Students should be encouraged to immense themselves in the study of science because the more they explore, reading and experimenting the more their science facts will be clarified. Marie Curie writes “I tried out various experiments described in treatises on physics and chemistry, and the results were sometimes unexpected. At times I would be encouraged by a little unhoped-for success, at times I would be in the deepest despair because of accidents and failures resulting from my inexperience. But on the whole, though I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy, this first trial confirmed in me the test of experimental research in field of physics and chemistry. To that end each of us must work for his/her own improvement and the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those whom we think we can be most useful.” Teachers introducing the radioactivity topic will find the relevance of telling the students the origin of the term ‘halflife’...The story is relevant in the teaching of magnetic and electric fields, and illustrates how some intensity of radiation is relative to the electrical field created. In passing the rays through the air, an electrical field is created that can be measured by an electrometer. The more atoms there are, the stronger the electrical field. Students will be interested to know that the element polonium is named after Poland Marie’s country. In teaching the application of various elements; the properties of radium, that is, its ability to emit heat and light was used to make watches that glow in the dark and used in medical research. The conclusion after this discovery is that the powerful energy that showed up in radioactivity was a fundamental property of every atom of matter. Some of the chemistry facts mentioned in the story are that normal properties, colour, smell or hardness change according to the way you treat a substance. Atoms of elements remain unchanged in these reactions. The story is a great warning on safety and health issues especially when working with students in the laboratories. It is important to give the students a clear overview of these issues to avoid accidents. A pioneer of the study of radiation, Madam Curie did not know how radioactivity would affect her health. Never wearing protective clothing, she worked with radioactive materials with her own hands, keeping radium in her desk drawer, or in a pocket of her dress. Over the 38 years that she researched radioactivity, the effects of ionizing radiation were wearing her down. She passed away in 1934 from severe anaemia. The work that had given life to others had affected the very marrow of her blood. Without Marie Curie’s discovery and her husband Pierre’s idea of implanting a small seed of radioactive material into a tumor to shrink it, we would not have brachytherapy. This type of internal radiation is used for many types of cancer, including early stage breast cancer. Next time you have an X-ray or need a zap of radiation to treat cancer, think of Marie Curie. Her work and sacrifice may make your life much easier. Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that thing must be attained.

Conclusion Robert Reid takes the reader through Marie Curie’s journey with ease and understanding. An easy and fun read.



Internet Resources for Teaching Units that deal with Cardiovascular Prevention Prof. Aldo T. Marrocco, Pisa, Italy



This paper presents a number of Internet resources such as

The stroke is a neurological deficit due to an interruption of

scientific contributions, atlases, images, diagrams and animations

cerebral blood flow, usually caused by a blockage or bleeding.

that may help study the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Key words: cardiovascular, prevention, risk factor, childhood Introduction

Some of its risk factors are not modifiable and it is important to recognise them as they identify who is at the highest risk of a stroke and may benefit from rigorous prevention. Aging, male sex and low birth weight are associated with greater

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases made up 16.7 million or 29.2% of total global deaths 1 in 2003. Most of the cases are attributed to stroke or myocardial infarction and four out of five of these deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries. This indicates a lack of awareness and

risk; other factors have some influence, including genetic and racial ones. High blood pressure is the first modifiable risk factor. The hypertension acting on the walls of the arteries can cause bleeding. A lower risk of stroke is associated with an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, a low sodium intake, and a low fat diet. Moderate physical activity is beneficial. Activities

understanding of the causes and prevention of cardiovascular

more intense and of longer duration, carried out gradually and

disease in these countries and a need for improved education

under medical supervision, can provide greater benefits. It has

programs across the population.

been suggested that physically active students demonstrate

Internet resources such as scientific publications, atlases, images, diagrams and animations that may help to motivate students in the study of cardiovascular (CV) diseases prevention and facilitate improved understanding have been searched and reviewed.

higher performance at school and more readily adopt other healthy behaviours (avoiding alcohol, tobacco and drug use). Considering all age groups, on average, tobacco use doubles the risk of stroke, but for young people the increase of risk is even greater. Light wine drinkers have a lower risk of stroke than abstainers, but alcohol abuse strongly increases the hazard. Use of drugs is associated with increased risk of stroke as it can lead,

Aims of the teaching unit, materials and methods Learning about prevention of stroke and myocardial infarction is the starting point of an educational route toward an increased awareness of the consequences of our behaviour on our health.

among other things, to sudden blood pressure changes. A study considering all age groups showed that drug addiction increases the risk of stroke by 6.5 times. Still according to this study, but considering only the age groups below 35 years, the

Some WHO documents concerning CV diseases and their

risk is 11.2 times greater, allowing us to understand how much

prevention are available on the Internet, including an Atlas 2 with a

more vulnerable young people are. Among the pathologies

great deal of information about the situation in the world and the

associated with an increased risk of stroke, there is Type 2

changes that are occurring. The World Atlas of Tobacco is quoted


too. Some animations help to better understand the mechanisms

Myocardial infarction is caused by an interruption of blood flow to

of certain CV diseases 4-5, diabetes and its relation to obesity 6-7,

the heart muscle. This is frequently caused by the accumulation

and the relationship between salt and blood pressure .

of fatty deposits (atheroma) on the inner walls of arteries. The










contributions about medical sciences is Pubmed 9-10. The American Heart Association has published a guideline 11 that provides considerable worthwhile information. The WHO has also published a document entitled â&#x20AC;&#x153;Avoiding heart attacks and

arteries become more rigid and their section decreases, with increased likelihood of a possible blood clot blocking them. If a blockage takes place in the arteries of the brain, a stroke occurs. If it happens in the coronary arteries, a myocardial infarction is the consequence. Overweight and obesity are linked with a high CV risk.

strokesâ&#x20AC;? 12.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that hampers the release

All of the documents mentioned in this paper can be downloaded

high level of fasting glycaemia that can accelerate the formation

of glucose from the blood to the cells that use it. The result is a

free of charge and form the basis for the teaching points and

of atheroma, resulting in narrower and harder arteries, and a

discussion presented below.

greater risk of stroke and myocardial infarction. Diabetes and



Article high blood pressure up to a certain level are asymptomatic and

According to a review of Yang (2007), the practice of yoga can

many people do not know that they have it.

produce benefits with regards to blood lipids, overweight,

Being overweight and physically inactive, having a diet rich in fat and sugars but low in fibre, and abuse of alcohol, increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes. It occurs generally among adults, but the number of young people with this pathology is increasing in many countries.

glycaemia and blood pressure. Innes and Vincent (2007) confirm these conclusions adding that yoga can also reduce the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and other factors, further contributing to CV prevention. According to many yoga teachers various positions may have therapeutic effects, but in certain specific situations there can be also contraindications 13

According to the WHO, high blood pressure besides damaging the

(Author’s note).

arteries, leads to stress on the heart. Being overweight, smoking,

The effect of laughter on blood sugar was observed by Hayashi

alcohol abuse, a diet high in salt and physical inactivity all increase blood pressure. High levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol favour the formation of atheroma or plaques of cholesterol, with consequent CV risks.

(2003). On a group of volunteers including 19 diabetic (Type 2) not in therapy and five healthy individuals, glycaemia was measured before and two hours after a meal of 500 kcal. The first day, after the meal, the volunteers attended a monotonous conference.

Among the strategies set out by the WHO for the prevention of

The next day, after the meal, they attended a comic comedy

CV diseases the following are included:

that caused intense laughter. Both healthy individuals and those

• Consuming limited amounts of foods containing saturated

blood glucose, obviously sharper in the latter. But after they had


with diabetes, as expected, always had a rise in postprandial attended the monotonous conference the glycaemia rose by 6.8

• Eating omega-3 contained in certain fish and certain

mmol /l in diabetic and 2.0 mmol /l in healthy subjects, whereas in the case of comic comedy the blood glucose rose by only

vegetable oils. • Having a fibre rich diet hence oriented towards fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. • Practising a physical activity, even moderate such as walking, housework or gardening, for at least 30 minutes a day, possibly continued on a daily basis. Physical inactivity increases the risk of coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke by around 1.5 times. • Avoiding smoking and the abuse of alcohol. The risks are much higher in people who started to smoke before the age of 16.

4.3 mmol /l in diabetic and 1.2 mmol /l in healthy subjects. The authors attributed the difference to an accelerated consumption of glucose by the muscles involved in the action of laughing, but speculate that the laughter also acted on the neuroendocrine system limiting the rise of glycaemia. According to the WHO childhood obesity is an epidemic


concerning Industrial and Third World countries, at least for certain population groups. The WHO provides much guidance on how to deal with obesity in schools, suggesting inter alias, the use of a school garden to develop awareness about food 15-16. Safe non-motorized modes of transportation 17-18 from house to school

• Maintaining a regular body weight. Obese children are very

are also encouraged. An initiative that goes in this direction is the

likely to remain obese into adulthood and to develop CV

project “Walking Bus”. Children walk to school in groups according

diseases and diabetes.

to fixed routes, meeting points and timetables, accompanied by

• Limiting salty foods and sugar. Many preserved, canned

trained volunteers. Students perform physical activity, learn to

prepared foods very often contain a lot of added salt; this

move correctly in the town and contribute to reducing traffic and

notoriously raises BP. Generally simple sugars, unlike the


complex ones, are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and contribute to high postprandial blood glucose. The glycemic index of a food indicates how quickly a given amount of sugars present therein enter the bloodstream causing a sharp increase in postprandial glycaemia. According to FosterPowell, Holt and Brand-Miller (2002) the index is influenced by industrial processes and the type of cooking method employed; even botanical differences (e.g. between different varieties of rice) explain different glycemic indexes. A prolonged use of carbohydrate rich foods, with a high glycemic index, is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and CV disease. A heavy workload, especially if coinciding with situations where the employee has little decision-making power, according to Hintsanen (2005), can cause a thickening of the carotid walls as a consequence of BP rise. This is known to be associated with increased CV risk. 24

Cycle facilities and pedestrian lanes encourage safe non-motorised modes of commuting. Photo courtesy Prof. Aldo T. Marrocco.


Article Compliance with tips for CV prevention often produces benefits


on other areas of health. For example, according to Karlsson,

Yang, K. 2007. A Review of Yoga Programs for Four Leading Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases. Evidence Based Complement Alternative Medicine. 2007 December; 4(4): 487â&#x20AC;&#x201C;491.

Nordqvist and Karlsson (2008), some kinds of exercise also promote bone development by reducing the risk of fractures. A review by La Vecchia and Bosetti (2006) suggests that an alimentary style beneficial for the prevention of various cancers is very similar to that which prevents CV diseases. According to Norat (2005), colorectal cancer is less common among people consuming the largest amounts of fish. The opposite occurs

< edid=18227916>. Innes, K. and Vincent, H., 2007. The Influence of Yoga-Based Programs on Risk Profiles in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Reviewâ&#x20AC;? Evidence Based Complement. < =pmcentrez>.

among people with the highest intake of red meat and preserved

Hayashi, K., 2003. Laughter Lowered the Increase in Postprandial Blood Glucose. Diabetes Care May 2003 26:1651-1652.

meat. This suggests similarities between the dietary habits


which prevent colorectal cancer and a diet which prevents CV

Karlsson, M., Nordqvist, A. and Karlsson, C. 2008. Physical activity increases bone mass during growth. Food Nutrition Research 2008; 52.

diseases. A document of the WHO focusing on prevention of cancer, in addition to emphasising the importance of stopping the childhood obesity epidemic 19, provides further indications which still have many similarities to the ones which prevent CV diseases. Intensive lifestyle changes with subsequent increase of CV disease have been observed in several countries. According to Ding and Malik (2008), there is increased prevalence of obesity in China as a consequence of a diet that is richer in saturated fats and a high glycemic index. In addition, a lower level of physical activity related to modernisation is contributing to the increase of diabetes and CV risks. According to Gill (2002), in some countries of the western Pacific area, obesity and diabetes are rapidly spreading. The reasons given for this change are the abandonment of fishing and manual activities in agriculture, the diffusion of alcoholism, use of high fat foods, and the frequent use of sugary drinks and cakes. A Finnish project started in 1972 as a response to the high mortality from CV diseases, according to Puska (2002), was the first among a series of projects based on the involvement of the whole community. This activity lasting 25 years has involved

< =pmcentrez>. La Vecchia, C. and Borsetti, C. 2006. Diet and cancer risk in Mediterranean countries: open issues. Public Health Nutrition (2006), 9:1077-1082 Cambridge University Press. < id=960020>. Norat, T. 2005 Meat, fish, and colorectal cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into cancer and nutrition. J National Cancer Institution; 97 (12): 906-916. < edid=15956652>. Ding, L. and Malik, V. 2008. Convergence of obesity and high glycemic diet on compounding diabetes and cardiovascular risks in modernizing China: An emerging public health dilemma. Global Health 2008;4:4. < edid=18302739>. Gill, T. 2002. Obesity in the Pacific too big to ignore. Secretariat of the Pacific Community. <> Puska, P. 2002. Successful prevention of non-communicable diseases: 25 years with North Karelia Project in Finland. Public Health Medicine 2002; 4(1):5-7. <> Websites 1. 

various public services, health institutions, schools, NGOs, mass


media, supermarkets, food industries, agriculture etc. Even some


environmental changes have been part of the strategy.


The consumption of vegetable foods, initially limited, became

5. html

much more common, there was a decrease in the use of animal


fat and total consumption of cigarettes. Physical activity during


leisure time increased as well. As a result, (e.g. among middle-


aged men), there has been a decrease of 73% in the annual rate


of mortality for heart disease. The general conditions of health in the adult population have improved and the mortality rate for lung cancer has decreased by over 70%.

References Hintsanen, M. 2005. Job Strain and Early Atherosclerosis: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. American Psychosomatic Society 67:740-747. <>. Foster-Powell, K., Holt, S. and Brand-Miller, J. 2002. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. American Society for Clinical Nutrition No.1, 5-56, 2002.


10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. html 16. 17. 18. 19.


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA

Welcome to Heads Up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA.

Dr Fox says at least one of the roles of paraspeckles is to influence

While bringing you the latest research and development stories

gene expression by controlling the movement of RNA in and out

out of Western Australian Universities, Science Network WA also

of the nucleus.

invites you to visit <> to stay up to date with what’s happening in Western Australian science!

“If you consider what paraspeckles are doing by trapping RNA in the nucleus, that is allowing cells to very subtly control the levels


of protein.

Of paraspeckles and protein

“It’s not actually changing what the protein is but it’s just changing

The Western Australian researcher who first discovered paraspeckles is now using these sub-nuclear bodies to understand the complexity of humans in diseases such as cancer.

when the cell is going to have a bit more of that protein or a bit less of that protein. “I think that it’s these sorts of controls which are going to explain our complexity in disease and normal development.” Another area of interest evolving from Dr Fox’s research on paraspeckles is her work on long non-coding RNAs. “It turns out that paraspeckles are actually built around a long non-coding RNA,” she says. “We know that there’s a long non-coding RNA that is like a structural scaffold that the proteins assemble around and it’s the interactions between the long non-coding RNA and the proteins that build up the paraspeckle. “This particular RNA is one of these molecules which were previously thought to be junk because it didn’t have proteincoding potential, it was just something that wasn’t useful.

Confocal fluorescence image of a HeLa cell nucleus containing paraspeckles (stained green) and splicing speckles (stained red). The three large black spots are the nucleoli. Photo courtesy Dr Archa Fox, WAIMR. In 2002 Dr Archa Fox, who was then a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Dundee, identified and characterised a microscopic cellular component known as a paraspeckle. Now as the Head of the Cancer Gene Expression Laboratory at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, Dr Fox is using the paraspeckle as a model system to investigate changes in gene expression in human development and cancer.

coding RNA) appears to be building these bodies [paraspeckles] and that aspect of the work has taken me into the field of noncoding RNA and in particular long non-coding RNAs which are turning out to be a really interesting class of molecules with very diverse functions.” Dr Fox says she would like to develop more tools for working with long non-coding RNAs, as well as to use paraspeckles to explore the different parts of human development and investigate their involvement in disease states, in particular, cancer. “This is a very new area and therapeutically this could be a really

“Our particular focus is post-transcriptional control of gene

important area but we don’t have a handle on how to deal with

expression, so what is happening to the RNA once it’s made in

these molecules because some of them are really big,” she says.

that step in the flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA to

“There is some indication that cancer severity might be linked

protein,” Dr Fox says.

to a reduction in paraspeckles components so it’s possible that

“It turns out that a lot of the structures and bodies within a cell’s nucleus are actually working on that RNA processing.”


“We now know that the function for this molecule (long non-

paraspeckles have some sort of tumour suppressor type quality and I’m exploring that.”


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA The paraspeckle is named due to its close or parallel proximity to

region has the potential to supply power to other parts of the

another nuclear body called the splicing speckle.


Sunny side up on Wheatbelt solar power

“By contrast the large-scale iron ore mining operations in the

MORE than 50 per cent of the Wheatbelt could be used to generate concentrated solar power (CSP), which can be stored to provide electricity after dark, a new University of Western Australia report reveals.

east would be more suited to medium scale CPS and the excess electricity generated from these could help supply the residential energy needs of Kalgoorlie and/or other industries such as gold mining,” Prof Boruff says.

An extract from the UWA report on providing solar energy in the Wheatbelt. Photo courtesy Professor Bryan Boruff, UWA. The UWA study “Assessing the potential for concentrated solar power development in rural Australia”, uncovered large swathes

Curtin’s portal to the future

of the Wheatbelt that could be used to house Western Australia’s

GROUNDBREAKING research from Curtin University is being

first CSP or thermal solar power station. The discovery is the first step towards providing renewable

showcased online for the first time – opening a portal for industry, community and scientists to engage in university projects.

energy to thousands of homes and businesses along the Great Eastern Highway and at sites stretching from the Wheatbelt’s far east to central and northern coastal zones. The Wheatbelt has an ageing power grid already operating at full capacity. Officials are worried any industrial development or population increases will trigger power shortages in the region. “The largest tracts of suitable lands have been identified along the Great Eastern Highway between Cunderdin and Southern Cross,” the report says. Study author and UWA’s environmental management and geography expert Bryan Boruff says his team focused on areas that were adequately flat and sunny, close to roads and sub stations and with no agriculture, aboriginal heritage or environmental values. “You could put these (CSP) on the western-side of Merredin and connect to the grid,” Professor Boruff says. “There is real retail value in what we have done. “We [the State of WA] are actually ahead of the curve in identifying sites using the method we used.”

Curtin looks into the near future, in emerging and groundbreaking technologies. Photo courtesy SXC.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Emerging Technologies (ET) research website was launched in January and within months it will display major, internationallyimportant citizen science projects alongside key studies. Through the portal, the public will have the opportunity to work

Unlike more well-known photovoltaic solar cells used on

with researchers and scientists on projects such as the Square

residential housing, concentrated solar uses mirrors to focus

Kilometre Array (SKA), Curtin’s strategic projects director Paul

sunlight onto a molten salt solution which retains heat, allowing

Nicholls said.

the energy to be stored. Stored heat is converted to steam which drives a turbine or engine to produce electricity without the intermittent power problems plaguing photovoltaic systems.

Australia is vying with South Africa for the $3 billion SKA project – which uses both light and radio waves to look into the centre of the galaxy, enabling scientists to see objects which formed billions of years ago – to be built in the Shire of Murchison, in

The system can be married with “dirtier” energy sources, such coal

Western Australia’s Mid-West.

or gas, and it has a lower carbon footprint than other renewable

“This project will allow university students, schools and the

energy technologies, Prof Boruff says.

general public to devote their idle computer processing power

CSP technology requires direct sunlight and level terrain, but

towards processing the terabytes (1012) of data that will be

despite WA’s vast expanses of flat sunny landscapes, Australia

produced by radio telescopes,” Mr Nicholls said.

lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to investing in thermal solar

“We are trying to build links internally with researchers, we are trying to build the external relationships with industry and

Prof Boruff says that while small-scale development for local

government and we’re trying to engage the community in ICT,

power generation in the Wheatbelt is quickly achievable, the

particularly students and the general public.”



Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA “It’s directing people in the right direction. It’s aggregating the

“As the technology in our society is advancing at a faster rate

resources to demonstrate the research capacity we have.”

than any other time in history, we need professionals who can

Animated fish shedding light on learning, new ways of seeing for the blind and theories on atomic collision research are detailed

approach these issues in a holistic manner, using mathematical technology to act as a productivity engine for industry. “Whilst today’s computer technology provides enormous power

with student and researcher profiles. ICT spans a range of platforms, from social media and health, to supercomputing and radio-astronomy, and the portal is hoped to capture the vast research taking place across Curtin’s campus and lodge it into one place. Other Universities have websites about their research but Mr Nicholls said this is the first time researchers, students, government and the community will have a website where they

to store, access and process complex data, mathematicians using smart models and algorithms are the linking key to extracting the information upon which the most effective management and operation decisions can be made.” Professor Caccetta said maths skills were in great demand and students who went on to study at a university level could go on to a variety of rewarding careers in the field. “It is so important to have the tools to answer the ‘what if’

can actively engage in WA science. Curtin vice-chancellor Jeanette Hacket said the portal is also vital for the long-term advancement of the University’s other key

questions out there. This is the most powerful contribution maths makes to the real world,” he said.

research such as health, sustainable development and minerals

Professor Caccetta and the WA Centre of Excellence in Industrial

and energy

Optimisation team has undertaken collaboration with key

To find out more about the Curtin ICT & Emerging Technology portal visit or to follow on twitter@curtinict.

industry partners in a number of innovative, industrially relevant optimisation research projects. For more information about the program visit the web page:

Solving the world’s problems, one puzzle at a time

Curtin University’s Professor Louis Caccetta’s Maths Enrichment Program is helping demystify preconceived attitudes towards maths for school-aged students all over Western Australia. More than a decade in the running, Professor Caccetta’s program was initiated in response to the declining interest in maths from schools and the perception that maths was a ‘hard’ subject. Professor Caccetta said he wanted to establish a comprehensive maths enrichment program in WA that could help students to recognise the application of their skills to real-world issues. talented students, but they weren’t being completely captured

Participants needed for research into metal exposure in children

or nurtured, and we wanted the program to give them the

Society is constantly exposed to low levels of different metals in

additional assistance required to fully develop good maths skills,”

our daily diets, however, there is limited research regarding the

Professor Caccetta said.

impact this may have on our health, and the health of our children.

“We want these students to really start using their problem

Researchers from the School of Natural Sciences and the School

solving skills at an early stage in order to prepare them for a range

of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan

of potential future careers. We get them thinking strategically

University (ECU) are seeking participants to help them develop a

by exposing them to a breadth of maths, including puzzles and

clearer picture, conducting a study that investigates the human


exposure to metals in our daily diets, particularly in the diets of

“There was a feeling that WA had its share of mathematically

“Often students discover that the solution required to a complex issue is simpler than they expect and by exposing them to that

The study will look at the levels of metal present in a child’s diet

experience, they are encouraged to sharpen those skills.”

and the contribution this makes to their overall metal exposure,

Professor Caccetta said the study of maths required patience and flexibility to tackle problems which sometimes required a multidisciplinary approach. such as finance, transport, agriculture, communications, technology and mining, more efficient and therefore, less costly,” he said.

with researchers particularly interested in investigating the level of metals consumed by children aged five to six years. Research Fellow from the School of Computing, Health and

“Maths experts can use these skills to help make major industries,



Science, Dr Anna Callan believes the study will provide important information for parents looking to give their children the best diet possible. “Low levels of metals are found in many types of foods. Certain


Heads up on Science with ScienceNetwork WA metals such as iron, copper and manganese form an important

Murdoch University has received more than $1million from

part of our normal diet however an imbalance in our intake of

the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) and

these metals can lead to health problems.”

BioPlatforms Australia to continue its research into developing

“Research is beginning to suggest that for other non-essential

drought-resistant wheat varieties.

metals such as lead or cadmium, continual levels of exposure may

The research boost is part of the Australian contribution to the

also be associated with health effects.”

International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC),

“At the moment little is known about children’s environmental exposure to metals in Australia, and in particular the effect this exposure has to their overall wellbeing,” said Dr Callan. Participants will be asked to complete a questionnaire on their child’s health and also complete a food frequency questionnaire which provides information about their child’s typical diet over the past four-months. In addition, parents will be asked to record everything their child eats over a 24-hour period for one day in a diet diary, and provide researchers with samples of the food and water consumed during that period. At the end of the 24-hour period parents will be asked to provide a sample of their child’s urine, which will be measured for metal content.

an international effort focused on identifying wheat genes that contribute to the survival of wheat across a broad range of global environments. Professor Rudi Appels from the Centre of Comparative Genomics at Murdoch is co-chair of the IWGSC. He said the project in Australia, which is expected to be completed in three to five years, will offer wheat breeders new lines for breeding with improved tolerance to drought and frost, two persistent problems that have plagued Western Australia for decades. “While Australia has recently experienced some disastrous flooding on the east coast, drought has always been a problem for this country, especially in Western Australia, and it requires a long term solution,” he said. Hollie Webster, a PhD student at Murdoch University who is identifying molecular markers to help plant breeders identify

For more information, or to register your child as a participant,

varieties that contain the required genes, said climate change

contact Dr Callan on 6304 2349 or email

had affected the livelihood of many West Australian farmers. “Having grown up in a farming family in the WA northern wheatbelt I have witnessed first hand the devastating impact climate change is having on the capacity of farmers to sustainably grow grain crops,” she said. “As an agricultural scientist I am passionately committed to contributing to local solutions for this issue, through research

New funds to develop drought resistant wheat

to improve the genetic capabilities of wheat to grow in West Australian low rainfall arid conditions.” The discovery of drought tolerant genes and their molecular markers would provide the opportunity to cross breed different varieties and further strengthen the resilience of the wheat industry.

‘Hot plate’ technology to assist research into ocean warming A team involving scientists from the Oceans Institute at The University of Western Australia has devised a unique way of studying the effects of ocean warming on marine life. The researchers developed a series of electrical ‘hot plates’ that Professor Rudi Appels from the Centre of Compatitive Genomics at Murdoch. Photo courtesy Murdoch University.


can heat up the surrounding water and simulate ocean warming in the immediate vicinity. 29

responses were observed.” The research involved deploying the ‘hot plate’ system in the river at a depth of five metres. The plates were heated electrically to examine the effect of warming on the settlement and growth of important non-mobile marine organisms, such as seaweeds, sponges and corals. Dr Smale said the system could be used in any aquatic habitat and could assist researchers investigating marine habitats such as the Abrolhos Islands and Ningaloo, as well as research involving bio-fouling (or marine growths) on ships’ hulls and other sea UWA ‘hot plate’ technology viewed underwater. Photo courtesy UWA.

The team found that such artificially heated water in the Swan River resulted in greater amounts of marine organisms growing on the warmed plates. This included twice the normal amount of

“These experiments could provide insights into the role of sea water warming on early life stages of marine organisms from within the habitats they live,” he said.

a fast-growing species of sea squirt (Didemnum perlucidum) that

“For example, important information on how coral larvae settle

can out-compete other species and foul ship’s hulls and coastal

and grow during warmer conditions could be obtained.”


The results of the group’s experiment involving the higher growth

The team includes researchers from the Oceans Institute and the School of Plant Biology at UWA, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and the Natural Environment Research Council in the United Kingdom.

rates of Didemnum perlucidum could also have wider effects. The genus Didemnum includes several invasive species that can cause severe problems by fouling the hulls of vessels and structures such as pipelines and rigs. Some species are also pests

The effects of ocean warming are not fully understood. Over the past month, satellite data has revealed that the waters of the Leeuwin Current off Western Australia’s coast are three degrees higher than the same time last year and, in a separate discovery, ocean warming is believed to be the cause of coral bleaching at

for aquaculture operations, such as mussel farming. “Overall, we observed more fouling on the ‘hot plates’ in our experiments, an observation that could have major implications for the multi-billion dollar anti-fouling industry,” he said. Co-investigator Dr Thomas Wernberg, a post-doctoral fellow

Ningaloo Reef. “Significant warming has been observed in every ocean, yet our ability to predict the consequences of oceanic warming on marine biodiversity remains poor,” said lead researcher Dr Daniel

at UWA and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said more research was needed into the effects of ocean warming on coastal ecosystems and bio-fouling. He said that the team is seeking further funding to undertake research in Cockburn

Smale of the Oceans Institute. “Experiments have been severely limited because, until now, it

Sound and elsewhere.

has not been possible to manipulate seawater temperature in a

“We’re looking to conduct more research on the role of short-

consistent manner across a range of marine habitats.

term warming on a range of marine organisms in real habitats,”

“We have developed a tool that can be used to warm the seabed

Dr Wernberg said.

and surrounding seawater to levels that are similar to those

“This will include research on important habitat formers, such as

encountered during heat waves.

kelps and corals, and on fouling organisms, which impact coastal

“Our experiments to date have been conducted in the Swan River



structures with economic consequences.”

in Western Australia, where the temperature on hot plates was

The group’s peer-reviewed research paper is available online at

raised by 1°C for more than a month, and significant ecological

the PloS ONE website.


STAWA Council

STAWA Council 2011 Chief Executive Officer


Chair Primary Science Committee

John Clarke

Colleen Bakker

Natalie Birrell


Chair Science Talent Search


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Jodie Rybicki

President Elect

Editor SCIOS

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Bernadine Hunneybun

Julie-Anne Smith

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Vice President

Chair Publications/Curriculum

Chair Professional Development

Geoff Lewis

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Chair Student activities

Lauren Clarke

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

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PO Box 7310 Karawara WA 6152

Unit 6, 10 Mallard Way

John Clarke

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Head Office Resources and Chemistry Precinct

Contact details

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

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

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The Hague: W. Jung Publishers.

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

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

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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.


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commercial purposes.

Contact details

Note to teachers: Parent permission slip must be obtained for

John Clarke, STAWA

any photograhs to be included in SCIOS.


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CONSTAWA 2011 – 27th & 28th May Program Outline Friday 27 May The Esplanade Hotel Fremantle and Excursion, (lunch is not provided) Excursions exemplifying Science as a Human Endeavour Strand in the new Australian Curriculum • • • •

12.30pm 1.15pm 2.00pm 4.00pm

• •

4.30pm 6.00pm


Registration:The Esplanade Hotel Fremantle Bus Excursions Excursion programs start onsite. Return to the Esplanade for Welcome Reception Registration at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle. Welcome Reception Opening: Hon Dr Elizabeth Constable Minister for Education Keynote Address: Prof Lyn Beazley - Chief Scientist of WA CONSTAWA Dinner: Pirate Themed Night - wear your hat!

Saturday 28 May Notre Dame University Workshop Program & Trade Displays Trade Displays and all food and drinks in building ND3 •




Registration: Notre Dame University - ND4 Tannock Hall of Education Corner Cliff and Croke Streets Tea & Coffee available at the trade displays. Welcome: Notre Dame University Keynote: Geoffrey Quinton Australian Curriculum Science Senior Secondary update Morning Tea

Workshops highlighting what is new in Australian Curriculum, Cutting Edge Science, ICT Development and Pedagogy” • • • • • • •

10.30am 12:00pm 1:00pm 2:30pm 4:00pm 4:30pm 6:00pm


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Session A Lunch Session B Session C Afternoon Tea Session D Sundowner (ND3)

SCIOS March 2011