Scientists in Schools

Peak Performance

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  • Judi Grossbard, Gardenvale Primary School, Victoria
  • Rosa Gualano, University of Melbourne
When Rosa and Judi Grossbard's Yr 3G class at Gardenvale Primary School found they had a common interest in asthma, the students learnt experimental technique is more than just hot air.

Rosa discussing asthma

Student measuring peak flow

Rosa is a biomedical research fellow at the University of Melbourne specialising in respiratory viruses and inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma. As asthma is quite relevant to children, Rosa has chosen to discuss lung health with the students . Rosa had access to several Peak Flow Meters (PFMs) and disposable mouth pieces used to measure your ability to breath out air. Asthma sufferers use these devices regularly to measure their everyday lung health.

In collaboration with the students, the partnership has designed an experiment to test the hypotheses that Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) differs with gender or height. After a discussion about the correct way to collect data, recording measurements, the difference between objective and subjective measurements in biomedical science and ways to graph results, the students launched into their experiment with vigour.

Visitng Gardenval Primary two to three times a year, Rosa explains, "We've done this experiment with the grade 3s every year since 2009, and it continues to improve and evolve with time. I also got a big buzz recently when one of the students recognized me, when we were both waiting at a local council immunization session!"
The graphs below show the latest results obtained by these very talented Grade 3s.
Graph of student results