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St Mary’s student beams about all things science

WHAT do ice-cream, glandular fever, sunburn and Walt Disney all have in common?

Leticia Fuller of Maryborough and her nine state counterparts who attended a three-day science experience at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Toowoomba.

Still beaming with excitement, Ms Fuller shared details of her experience with her sponsor, the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, at a recent breakfast meeting.

Rotary Sunrise President Glenda Pitman said the club sponsored Ms Fuller by covering the program cost.rotary

“Leticia is a very conscientious and hard-working student,” Mrs Pitman said.

“It’s wonderful to hear such an eloquent and enthusiastic student talk about her experiences. She is obviously passionate about science and a great ambassador for Rotary.”

Leticia told Rotarians her experience in Toowoomba was “absolutely amazing!”

“We studied all different science things from engineering and hematology to agronomy and astronomy,” the Year 9 St Mary’s College student said.

“During the event we made soft-serve ice-cream using liquid nitrogen, cream, milk and vanilla essence.

“We also went into different science and medical laboratories to see what university labs look like.

“In the medical lab we looked at hematology and did a full DNA test. Within the samples I had, I diagnosed someone with malaria, glandular fever and diabetes.

“With agronomy, the study of plants, we looked at wheat, barley and sugarcane and the different sorts of root crops as well as photosynthesis and how changing the C02 levels, temperature and colour of light can affect how fast and slow they grow.

“We also looked at UV radiation. Even when it’s cloudy UV radiation is still there so you can still get sun burnt, just not as bad. We had clear UV beads and when we were inside a building they were completely clear and see-through but when we went into the sun, depending on the strength they changed colour to vibrant pink, purple or yellow.

“Even sitting in a car, if you have windows that aren’t tinted the UV is coming through so you can still get sun burnt. We learnt how it causes skin cancer and kills cells within us.”

Ms Fuller said engineering activities included designing the keyboard of a laptop computer using a circuit board, paper and a pencil so that when keys drawn on the paper were pressed they connected to the computer.

“It’s amazing to see what you can do with a computer. You wouldn’t think a computer could take your life so far but it does.

“One of our instructors used to work for Walt Disney Productions. She was one of those who did all the animations in movies and showed us in depth how they’re all created.

“We also looked at computer programming games and created our own programs while were there.”

Ms Fuller hopes her interest in all things science will lead to a career in pediatric nursing.

The ConocoPhillips Science Experience is designed to provide Year 9 and 10 students who have an interest in science with an opportunity to engage in a wide range of fascinating science activities under the guidance of scientists who love their work.

The event takes place in over 35 universities and tertiary institutions across Australia.

-ENDS-

Photo:  Maryborough’s St Mary’s College Year 9 student Leticia Fuller joins other science enthusiasts at this year’s ConocoPhillips Science Experience.

Media Contact: Jocelyn Watts, Email: jocey@jocelynwatts.com; Phone: 0403 191 958

Hervey Bay astronomers reach for the stars

The overwhelming success of the solar eclipse viewing on USQ Fraser Coast’s grassed area in November has inspired the Hervey Bay Astronomical Society to “reach for the stars” with more viewings and events.

There is also talk of possibly building a public observatory in Hervey Bay.

 “We had a lot more people than expected attend the transit of Venus and partial eclipse in November, and after lots of positive feedback we’ve decided to hold more events this year to flag our existence and encourage more members to join us,” society president Joe Mather said.

“It has also strengthened our long-term dream to build a public observatory in Hervey Bay.

“That’s a fairly ambitious dream so we need to gauge the level of interest first, then its viability and investigate possible funding sources.”

The initial part of that process is to hold a series of public events, the first of which is an astronomy night this Saturday (May 4) from 5.45 pm to 8.30 pm in USQ Fraser Coast’s car park at 161 Old Maryborough Road, Hervey Bay.

“The evening will start with a 10-minute presentation in a lecture hall, while there is still some light in the sky to show pictures and explain what we are attempting to find. Then we will show people how to use averted vision techniques to see distant galaxies and gas nebulae when normal central focusing shows nothing in the eyepiece.”

Mr Mather said Mayor Gerard O’Connell, councillors and other VIPs would be invited to attend the evening with their families.

“We encourage families to make a night of it and bring along fish and chips or other snacks to eat.”

Following this Saturday’s event, local dignitaries and state and interstate professionals will be invited to attend the society’s observing nights at Robert and Jan Jocumsen’s Takura Observatory and its monthly meetings.

“The observing nights are held on Saturdays closest to a new moon and begin with a short workshop on fixing/aligning/repairing astronomical telescopes, followed by a barbecue and chin-wag while the scope temperatures stabilise. Then we enjoy many hours viewing deep space nebulae, remnants of dead stars, globular clusters and whatever else we can find.

“Our meetings are held in USQ Fraser Coast’s Room C205 at USQ on Wednesdays, two weeks after Observing nights.

“Besides presentations on astrophotography, latest NASA discoveries and Astral DVDs, we encourage members to pass on any specialised knowledge they have to the rest of the group such as servo-controlled telescopes which automatically point to thousands or astronomical objects held in their databases, or Wi-Fi control using Planetarium software running on smartphones and/or tablets, or just plain telescope maintenance.

Meeting dates can be found at the group’s website at http://www.hbastro.net, along with pictures of past nights, shots of the Takura Observatory and examples of long time-base and stacked shots of deep space objects.

WHEN: Saturday, May 4 from 5.45 pm to 8.30 pm.

WHERE: USQ Fraser Coast, 161 Old Maryborough Rd, Hervey Bay.

COST: Free, but gold coin donations to cover costs are most welcome

For more information log into www.hbastro.net, email info@hbastro.net, or phone 0419 461 532.

 

Hervey Bay Astronomical Society

From a casual group of observing enthusiast in 2008 to incorporation as the Hervey Bay Astronomical Society Incorporated in January 2010, the group has retained deep interests in the cosmos, night sky observing, the science of astronomy, and astrophotography.

Hervey Bay Astronomical Society holds one dark sky observing session and one education night each month, as well as special public events such as the November Solar Eclipse Viewing at USQ Fraser Coast.

Group membership varies from beginners to advanced astronomers but all have the same passion for astronomy and teaching others about the wonders in the day and night skies.

Interested people are welcome to attend a meeting to assess if it is something from which they could enjoy and learn the information they can pass on to others.