FSiE Science Roadshow boosts school science in Regional Victoria

Victoria University Science Roadshow travels over 2,000 km.

The Victoria University Science Roadshow with support from Shimadzu's Fostering Science in Education (FSiE) Program travelled over 2,000 km in 2012 visiting 15 schools where over 400 students participated in hands-on science. VU staff were greeted with excitement and enthusiasm at every school, with teachers eager for their students to participate in the programs.

The central character in the roadshow was VU’s Mobile Gateway Vehicle (MGV). After parking, the MGV’s walls move outward creating a laboratory space complete with the scientific instruments already installed. The state-of-the-art scientific equipment includes a Shimadzu Prominence HPLC for separating and analysing mixtures; and a Shimadzu UV-1800 UV/Vis Spectrophotometer to analyse samples with light absorption. During the roadshow the chromatograph was used to analyse the caffeine content of energy drinks and the spectrophotometer was used to determine the analgesic content of aspirin tablets.

The MGV generated curiosity and wonder especially before school and during recess and lunchtime when students would gather to see what was going on inside. Curiosity was also noticeable at the many towns VU staff stopped at throughout their journey and they were often asked who they were and what they were doing.

Victoria University has been offering free programs to local secondary schools to encourage the engagement of students in science since 2009. The “Be a Chemist for a Day” program offered to Years 9 & 10 students and the “VCE Chem Pracs” program offered to Year 12 students  run at VU’s Werribee campus and have been attracting over 24 schools and 1000 students annually. The scope of these programs has doubled by taking the Mobile Gateway Vehicle with its analytical instruments farther afield.

Dr Domenico Caridi said; “Instrumental chemical analysis is now an important topic within the VCE chemistry curriculum and access to analytical instrumentation is important for schools to merge theoretical principles with hands-on experience. Unfortunately the cost of instruments means that these are not affordable by schools. With the “VCE Chem Pracs” program we allows students and their teachers to put theory into practice with hands-on access to analytical instruments with experiments including the analysis of aspirin in medications and the analysis of caffeine in energy drinks. With the “Be a Chemist for a Day” program we engage the younger students in science via their senses where, for example, aspirin is converted into Dencorub (Deep Heat) and students can smell the change. This program aims to inspire students at a younger age so that they may be encouraged to pursue studies and careers in science.”

We are pleased to advise that Dr Caridi and key staff from VU’s School of Engineering and Science will be continuing their innovative roadshow in 2013 visiting more Victorian country and regional schools. The roadshow team in 2012 (pictured below) included Domenico Caridi, Raymond Horsley and Aida Zilic (D. Caridi’s PhD student) and the MGV driver, Geoff Schilling.

For more information on our Fostering Science in Education (FSiE) Program please email Lorna Basbas at info@shimadzu.com.au

Click here to learn more about FSiE.
FSiE is an Australasian initiative through our 'Excellence in Science'
program promoted via the Shimadzu Foundation globally.

 

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