Scientists in Schools

Actions speak louder than words...

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  • Jan Connolly, Dunwich State School, Dunwich, QLD
  • Kathy Townsend, Moreton Bay Research Station, University of Queensland
Partnering with marine scientist Kathy gives students of Dunwich State School opportunities to experience 'real' science. Sharing a wide variety of activities, including the effect of marine rubbish on sea turtles, has inspired the students both at school and well into adulthood.

While visiting Moreton Bay Research Station, students had a first-hand look at the impact of humans on the marine environment, particularly sea turtles. Comparison of materials found on the beach to those found in the intestinal tract of impacted turtles, highlighted to students the correlation between human beach rubbish and its effect on marine life. Back at school, litterers are now told to "pick that up as it can kill a sea turtle", making it socially unacceptable and 'uncool' to litter.

Working with Kathy to understand the effect of the Brisbane River on the pollution levels and water quality in Moreton Bay has had a lasting impact on the Indigenous community. Students have trained as Indigenous Eco Rangers and been responsible for cleaning up a recent oil spill on Moreton Island using "oil eating bacteria" used during their partnership at school.

Learning to protect sea turtles
Morton Bay Research Station field trip

Made official by the SiS partnership, the Moreton Bay Research Station has become a community resource, enriching the students' knowledge of their unique marine environment and impacting on the wider local community. Recognition of the impact was shown in the awarding of the 2010 Peter Doherty Award for Excellence in Science and Science Education.

So why is Kathy involved in SiS? "Science is a really cool job – we see and do things that most people can only imagine. Through SiS we can share that enthusiasm with the next generation."

Nikey strongly encourages others to join the Scientists in Schools program, "It's an excellent program that offers much more than you think - the possibilities are endless and the rewards immense."