Monday, November 28, 2011

Student Science Communicators (part 2)

In the aftermath of the Australian Science Communciators (SA) AGM, I have been elected as Events Manager (well, I made the mistake of coming out from under the table when they called for nominations).

More important than my elevation from my previous role as councillor for skivving off work, was the presenations by the Pultney Grammar School Extension Science Class. This was the finale of a year of investigations, experiments and different methods of presenting their results. They had already produced posters, blogs and podcasts, this was their first presentation to a live audience that wasn't their teachers, schoolmates or parents.

And it was great, although only in year 10 (and using that horribly annoying presentation system where the text slides and jerks around, zooming in and out), they presented clearly and enthusiastically. Despite having to deal with quite complex subjects they were able to communicate them with aplomb and humour. I even learnt things that surprised me.

Like the fact that modern touchscreens use Quantum Tunneling Composites, materials that use the property of atomic scale objects to tunnel through spacetime around solid barriers (as the student said, it's like tossing a basketball at a door, only to have it vanish and appear on the other side).

It's something you can point out to people who dismiss modern physics as being abstruse with no practical application, that the iPhones they are glued to use quantum weirdness to do all that cute swiping actactivations .

That was just one example. Even when the talks were in areas I was very familiar with (like extinction of the dinosaurs), the talks were thoughtfully, well organized and revealed the passion of the students who undertook them.

Not all the students engaged in this project will become scientists, but they are now science literate, and able to comprehend (and explain to others) the importance of science in our day to day world.


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