Siemens Science Experience a huge success 


Charles Darwin University recently hosted the 2007 Siemens Science Experience for year nine Northern Territory students, becoming the 34th university in Australia to successfully host the program.

The program was offered to Territory students after consultations with University staff and local secondary schools in 2006. Professor Chris Austin, Head of School, Science and Primary Industries, said, ‘There’s a clear need for Territory students to have the same enhanced learning opportunities as their fellow interstate students.

‘2007 was the first year the program has been delivered in the Territory and we are happy to say it was a huge success,’ he said.

CDU’s Dean of Education, Health and Science, Professor Graham Pegg described the program as a ’… terrific experience for CDU staff as well as the students. I am very pleased that all of the hard work has given the students a huge insight into the many careers within the ‘sciences’.

‘Reading some of the student ‘thank you’ letters and the feedback received by Professor Austin, we will definitely be seeing some of the program participants studying here at CDU in the future.’

With 73 students from 12 local high schools and three students from Nhulunbuy High School participating in the three-day event, titled ESI Darwin – Investigating internal and external environments, it was important to offer students a broad learning experience.

Local Chair, Director and GIS lecturer, Dr Diane Pearson explained the many interesting components of the program, which ‘…included expert presentations, along with a host of interactive activities, including field trips (up and downstream), specimen collection, habitat assessments laboratory investigations, native bird banding and release, and physical tasks.’

Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) Chief Executive, Margaret Banks said, ‘I think it is a fabulous program, and a great opportunity to extend students' learning, expose them to new information provided by scientists working in their own contexts and hopefully motivate students to continue with science at school and for many follow through with their career choice.’

National Siemens Science Experience Director Jim Sonnemann, who flew in especially, was surprised and very impressed with the quality of CDU’s facilities, which, he said, in some areas are better equipped than in Melbourne. ‘For me, participating in the program enables me to gain an insight into issues facing the Territory, the quality of the University’s facilities, teaching staff and invited specialists, as well as the effectiveness of the learning activities delivered, and I can honestly say the program did not disappoint.’

St Johns College student, Rhiannon Barnard, offered her congratulations to CDU on an educating and enlightening three days: ‘I enjoyed the program and felt it provided something for all of the students that attended. I enjoyed myself very much and found the whole experience extremely worth it.’

Dripstone High School student, Dana Seamons also enjoyed the three-day experience: ’… especially the outdoor field trips, it was a lot of fun and I even held a fresh water crayfish. I don’t know what career I will end up in, but I do know that I want to go to Charles Darwin University.’

On a final note, said Professor Austin, ‘All of this would not have been possible without local support, I would like to acknowledge and thank our sponsors: DEET, The Rotary Clubs of Darwin, NT Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries and Mines, Cameco Australia, Birch Carroll & Coyle, Crocodylus Park, ALCAN Gove, Spatial Science Institute NT, Steelcon Constructions, Australian Geographic Society and Dick Smith Electronics, as well as the invited speakers from the Australian Marine Institute, Menzies School of Health, and Marine and Coastal Experts (NRETA).’

Group picture (top):

Front l-r: Jim Sonnemann, National Director, Professor Chris Austin, Head of School Science and Primary Industries, Janine Inggs, student group leader, Jo-anne Creek, technical officer chemistry, Lisa Willis, technical officer microbiology and pharmacy, and Kezia Lim, technical officer pharmacy
Second row: Ross Springolo and Michelle Parks, Rotarians, Lee Portelli, PA to Head of School, Ray Fauntleroy, Rotarian, Trisha Kohlweg, CDU secondary school liaison, and Dr Diane Pearson, local Chair and GIS lecturer
Third row and back: Secondary school students from Darwin High School, Dripstone High School, Kormilda College, Marrara Christian School, Nhulunbuy High School, Nightcliff High School, O’Loughlin Catholic College, Palmerston Christian School, Palmerston High School, Sanderson High School, St Johns College, Taminmin High School and Essington School of Darwin