Scientists in Schools

Biosecurity blitz

  • Herman Rijken, Yarrabah State School, Queensland
  • Ceri Pearce, Biosecurity Queensland

The best way for students to understand the relevance of science to their every day lives is to get them involved in some real science of importance to their community – so that’s just what this partnership is doing.

Ceri Pearce, a senior plant health scientist at Biosecurity Queensland, is working with Herman Rijken from Yarrabah State School, just outside Cairns, to get students involved in a biosecurity blitz against invasive pests and diseases that threaten Queensland’s primary industries and the natural environment.

Ceri and Herman have developed lessons that stress the importance of biosecurity and involve year 8 to 10 science students in practical surveillance activities.

Students are setting traps for fruit flies and tramp ants, such as electric ants and yellow crazy ants, and using other hands-on surveillance methods.

Ceri Pearce with two students looking at a fruit fly trap

Students will also have the opportunity to visit Biosecurity Queensland’s facilities at the Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries centre in Cairns where they will meet some of Ceri’s colleagues.

The students were especially enthusiastic when they saw science directly applied to their local circumstances, and Ceri’s enthusiastic about the opportunity to promote the importance of biosecurity.

“Biosecurity has to be a whole-of-community issue if we are to successfully prevent or manage invasive pests and diseases and in the event of an exotic pest outbreak, local community knowledge is important,” she said.

Herman says that the science students are showing a special interest in biosecurity science and hopes that the knowledge and practical skills the students gain will encourage them to consider possible career pathways in biosecurity science.