Gifted ideas on show at Science symposium

Science stars: (from left) St Ambrose students Caelan Orlich, Nathan Thiele, Isobelle Som, Alessandra Bianchi, and Aoife Foley. Photo: Kitty Beale

Gifted students at St Ambrose Catholic Primary Concord West showed prototypes with the power to affect real change at the school’s first Newman Science Symposium.

The event allowed students in Years 4 to 6 in the Newman Selective Gifted Education Program – and with an aptitude for Science – to present inventions aimed at solving problems including coral bleaching, air pollution, overfeeding pets and speeding in school zones.

The students worked with specialist Science educator Dr Simon Crook and St Ambrose’s Newman coordinator Annie McKeeting to research and make prototypes of their ideas.

They presented these to a parent audience that included those with science and engineering backgrounds. The parents also gave students feedback after the presentation to help hone their projects.

This was a perfect opportunity to enable children with a passion for Science to work with a specialist in the field.

– Linda McFadden

Year 6 student Nathan Thiele designed the ‘Trinkler’ for arid and bushfire prone areas. The device resembles a 15-metre tall tree and is rigged with smoke alarm and hose system to put out fires.

A water tank underneath collects rain water and alerts the nearest fire station electronically to refill the tank when water is below a minimum level.

Nathan said fires presented a great danger to many Australian’s homes and lives. He said he learnt a lot through the design process.

“The most surprising thing I learnt was how hard it is to develop an invention,” he said. “I thought you could just make it out of the blue and go ‘That’s my invention’, but you have to have solid research and there is an actual process involved.”

Caelan Orlich demonstrates how the A.P.E. device works.

Year 6 student Caelan Orlich, 12, worked with two classmates to create the Air Pollution Extinguisher (A.P.E). The project is a response to the discovery of data that attributes the death of 6.4 million people to air pollution.

Caelan said the device for bicycles filters air to remove harmful fumes, and is powered by solar panels and kinetic energy generated while pedaling. He hopes to make the prototype work and sponsor the Tour De France in the future.

Year 6 students Bianca Shi, Jasmina Nguyen and Natalia Diaz, created the Ballmerang.

The ball made of durable materials is embedded with a microchip that connects to a phone or tablet via Bluetooth to allow the owner to control it.

“It has a microchip, so if you lose your ball over a fence playing soccer you’ll be able to locate it and get it back,” Bianca said.

Natalia said the group had a competitor, but their product had some differences.

“Our product is going to be waterproof and more durable so you can kick it and it won’t break.”

Mrs McKeeting said students completed a range of experiments – learning principles of chemistry, physics and engineering – to gain scientific thinking skills before completing their projects. They also learned to give valuable feedback to each other.

“We ran a lot of experiments in different areas so they could get used to the scientific process,” she said.

“They then came up with an idea and had to research it. They’ve become very professional and included all of the things a professional business pitch would have. I’m so impressed with the students’ ideas.”

Principal Linda McFadden said while the school has offered the Newman program in previous years, the Science symposium was a new initiative in 2017.

“We thought this was a perfect opportunity to enable children who have a passion for Science and who have capabilities in the area of Science to work with a specialist in the field,” she said.

“We are a school that fully embraces the design thinking process.

“This was the perfect vehicle to enable those students to really explore their own areas of interest and then to be informed through scientific knowledge and using scientific applications to find solutions to problems that they think are worth solving.”

The school also runs a Newman Literature Circle in English and offers accelerated Mathematics to students gifted in the field in years 2 to 6.


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