More than 20 students from high schools around the Bundaberg region are participating in a three-day Science Experience program run by CQUniversity Bundaberg.
The focus of the Science Experience is for students to immerse themselves in the world of agriculture and then create innovative solutions to real-world problems faced by the local farming community.
Throughout the three-day program, students will participate in science-based activities on-campus and will also visit local farms.
Project coordinator at CQU Desley Pidgeon said that the students would learn about science in their own backyard.
“It’s to show students what’s happening in their own backyard in terms of everyday science, so for you in Bundaberg it’s looking at your agricultural industry,” Desley said.
As part of the program, students will visit a ginger processing facility and sweet potato farm, learn about engineering, hydroponics and protected cropping, and interact with practical laboratory and makerspace activities.
One of those activities is to solve a problem that Bundaberg is facing.
“The students will also do design thinking and the reason they do that is because on the last day they get given a real problem and it’s a problem that Bundaberg is trying to solve,” said Desley.
“They get to solve it and they get to pitch it to a panel. These kids have no parameters so they will come up with the most amazing ideas.”
Tuesday (22 September) was the first day of the science experience and students were shown the science behind Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.
Director of the Institute for Future Farming Systems Phil Brown said practical experiments were key to peaking curiosity in the sciences.
“So, the activity we’re doing with the students as part of the Science Experience is to show them some of the science behind soft drinks,” Phil said.
“They’ve been out to Bundy Brewed Drinks to see their farming operations and we now look at the end product and understand why soft drinks are the way they are.
“I think it’s really important for school kids to realise that science is all around us in the real world. For something like a soft drink which you might not give too much thought to, you can understand that there's actually a lot of chemistry, physics and agriculture involved in the production of a soft drink.”
With that in mind, students were shown what makes the drinks fizzy, how sweeteners affect their colour and taste and what reactions they cause within the body.
Student Nellie Petrosjanova was taking part in the program and said she relished the opportunity to learn more about sciences in the real world.
“The thing I like about science is that nothing is decided fully, there’s always something new to learn,” Nellie said.
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