Scientists in Schools

Cool science

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  • Anjali Rao, Castle Cove Public School, Castle Cove, NSW
  • Tracey Rogers, University of New South Wales

After Antarctic scientist Tracey Rogers enthralled Castle Cove Public School students with her seal research, they wanted to contribute to her work. Through 'Jobs for Seals', they raised money towards a satellite tracker for a leopard seal off the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

When Tracey’s team returned to Antarctica, they named the tracked seal Milo after the students’ toy seal mascot that accompanied them. Milo’s movements and behaviour were monitored for 12 months giving the researchers and students an insight into how seals live in Antarctica. On her return home, Tracey amazed a school assembly with Milo’s exploits.

Milo and his new friend

 

Lab visit with Tracey

Through their partnership with Tracey, Anjali’s students have access to current research and techniques. In particular, students still talk about their experience visiting Tracey’s lab. “It has been fantastic to be able to draw on such an expert to give the students an insight into real world science,” says Anjali. “They in turn have been completely fascinated with every talk Tracey has given and we always run over time with those.”

Tracey and Anjali use email to maintain their communication when Tracey is in Antarctica, and when she is at home she enjoys face-to-face interactions with the students. Tracey explains, “It’s been a really enjoyable experience. Science seems to have become increasingly about metrics so it’s been a privilege to spend time with the kids, they’re people who see the ‘WOW’ in science.”

After engaging with Tracey’s research, the students were thrilled when their scientist was nominated for two 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. They enthusiastically threw their support behind Tracey’s nomination for the “People’s Choice Award” and shared their excitement with the wider school community.

When asked about her partnership experience, Anjali reflected, “It has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding professional partnerships I have been privileged to be part of.”