Central Queensland girls bucking the science trend

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Rockhampton 4700
Five women making strides in the science world
What can men do to stem the exodus of women from science?

ABC Capricornia

by Vanessa Jarrett

Updated

November 25, 2016 16:25:22

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Tylar Cunzolo is heading to the NASA Space School in the US to work on designing a plan to go to Mars in 2030. (ABC Capricornia: Vanessa Jarrett)
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(ABC Capricornia: Vanessa Jarrett)
Tylar has big plans for the future and hopes this will not be her last visit to NASA.”My ultimate goal is to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America and become a computer scientist,” she said.”There are endless opportunities from there. It just grew from there.”

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Courtney Smith will visit Brisbane next month to meet Nobel Laureate physicist Takaaki Kajita. I could go back to NASA and design the computers that go into space.”No need to be a man or living in city to get into scienceCourtney Smith also hopes to go to NASA one day, but for now she will more than happy to meet 2015 Nobel Prize winner, Japanese physicist Dr Kajita.”I am both nervous and very excited. Two Central Queensland high school students are packing their bags to pursue their studies, with trips to Brisbane and the USA on the radar.Tylar Cunzolo and Courtney Smith are both in year 11 at Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School (RGGS) and won a STEM competition.Tylar is heading to the NASA Space School in the United States next month, while Courtney is travelling to Brisbane to learn from Nobel Laureate physicist Takaaki Kajita.While boys may outnumber girls in senior high school physics classes across Queensland, this was not the trend at RGGS.According to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority 11,135 boys studied physics in years 11 and 12 last year, compared to just 4,460 girls.RGGS principal Christine Hills said 88 per cent of their students were taking a science subject.”For a girl from central Queensland to be given the opportunity to go to Houston, the epicentre of the space program, and for Tylar to have the curiosity to want to go is outstanding,” Ms Hills said.”And for Courtney being able to meet a world famous physicist, I just love the fact she is so curious about that world and she has been given this opportunity.”Girl from Comet off to NASAFor 16-year-old Tylar, ironically from the town of Comet, going to the NASA Space School was a dream come true.”I am thrilled about it, I can’t wait,” she said.”What I am looking forward to the most is the computers, looking at the coding and software behind what sends people to space.”We will learn about everything the engineers, the scientists and the astronauts do to go to space.”Tylar will spend two weeks at the NASA Space Centre and will be given an assignment to work with a small group to create a plan to go to Mars in 2030.”We get given a budget and within our team, we create a plan [for] how that would work and everything that would be involved,” she explained.”We will be doing astronaut training, learning about the gravity chamber, deep sea diving to stimulate weightlessness, we will look at Mars Rover prototypes and all the coding and technology.”I have always been fascinated by how everything works.”It started with a USB and I wanted to know how it all worked and how it stored all this information. I am excited because I come from Emerald and go to school in Rockhampton [and] we don’t get many opportunities like this,” Courtney said.”I am nervous because I am in year 11 physics and he is a physicist; I cannot compare to the amazing talent he has in his field.”Courtney will get to meet Dr Kajita, ask him her own questions and listen in on a presentation he will give with students from across the state.”Physics has been something I have been very interested in because it is so amazing — how we have come from stars and how we came to Earth,” she said.Courtney hopes to pursue a career in the sciences, currently often a male-dominated field.”I do find it daunting there are so many males in the field but I also think it is an opportunity that women can do anything,” Courtney said.”Women can achieve anything, do what they want to do, be where they want to be if we just put in the effort in.”The fact that I am regional student and a woman and I am going to Brisbane is just evidence that you don’t need to be in the city or a man to get into these fields.”
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Tadpoles in classrooms help students leap into their studies

(ABC Canberra: Penny Travers)
Each student has become a budding scientist, measuring and monitoring the tadpoles each week. “You see their eyes light up when they realise they’re doing work that real scientists do out in the real world,” Ms Jansen said. Tadpoles are transforming into frogs in classrooms across Canberra, much to the delight of students and teachers alike.”First they grow legs, then they grow arms, and then their tail starts to disappear and they turn into frogs,” year two student Archie said.The biological process of metamorphosis is one of nature’s wonders but usually occurs out of sight. “It’s amazing how just having a living creature in the room just provides that extra sense of vibrancy.”From habitat conservation to protecting water quality, the students have been learning environmental lessons.”Try not to litter and destroy their habitats,” eight-year-old Wren said.”To save frogs you should keep your cat and your dog inside at night time,” Archie said.Illegal to catch tadpoles, frogsIt is illegal to catch tadpoles and frogs unless you have a licence, so ACT Frogwatch started putting together the kits in 2010 after receiving requests from teachers eager to have tadpoles in their classrooms. “To do this pseudo-science at a very young age — just by observing things and noticing changes in this little animal, it wakes up this appreciation for nature and an appreciation for frogs.” Photo:
It is illegal to catch and move tadpoles or frogs in ACT waterways. (Ginninderra Catchment Group)
The program began with just five kits and has now grown to 120 kits, thanks to support from Rotary. “Our literacy focus has been on persuasive writing and it’s been fantastic having something tangible and real to write about,” Ms Jansen said. “Frogs are in dire straits worldwide, so it’s illegal in the ACT and in most other states in Australia to catch tadpoles or to catch any frog in any stage of life and displace them,” ACT Frogwatch coordinator Anke Maria Hoefer said. Photo:
Students Archie and Caitlin create informative posters promoting frog conservation. “It stays the same length but they just grow into it.”

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Weetangera Primary School students Maddy, Archie, Wren and Caitlin with their Frogwatch tadpole kit. (ABC Canberra: Penny Travers)
Weetangera Primary School’s year two classroom is one of 120 across the ACT and surrounding New South Wales to receive a Frogwatch tadpole kit.The kits include everything the students need to look after the spotted grass frog tadpoles as they transform over 10 weeks. “Most adults think that the tadpoles lose their tail but they actually grow into their tail,” eight-year-old Caitlin said. “It’s quite amazing even for me as an adult to watch how much they change,” learning assistance teacher Leone Jansen said.”The students just love them, they’re always checking in on them and observing their behaviour.”Literacy, numeracy and environmental lessons Teachers have been incorporating the tadpoles into all areas of the curriculum. “Every child should be exposed to these wonders of nature,” Ms Hoefer said.
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ACT
(ABC Canberra: Penny Travers) 666 ABC Canberra

By

Penny Travers

Posted

November 25, 2016 13:53:24

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Year two student Wren keeping a close eye on the tadpoles.

Monster crayons to help abused kids brought to life

Monster-shaped crayons set to help abused, neglected children
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Christian McKechnie and Ben Lees hope monster-shaped crayons will help charity Act For Kids. The dream of two advertising executives to help children who have faced abuse and neglect has come true thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign.Christian McKechnie and Ben Lees designed Monster Crayons, a product they wanted to create to help support Act For Kids.The Australia-wide charity, which began in Brisbane, provides free, art-based therapy and support services for children and families. External Link:

Monster Crayons
They then used 3D printing to further refine the moulds.More than 200 packs of crayons are now ready for sale, with 10,000 packs to be delivered at the start of 2017.One hundred per cent of the profits from their sale will go to Act For Kids.The duo will sell the crayons through their Facebook page and in a major department store as of next year.”We really hope Monster Crayons will become fully self-sustaining and a successful product for Act For Kids,” Mr McKechnie said. every drawing takes away the child’s monster,” Mr McKechnie said.The prototypes were created by Mr McKechnie and Mr Lees by melting existing crayons in saucepans and pouring the mixture into moulds they created. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
The duo started crowdfunding last February, hoping to raise $20,000 to start manufacturing and distributing the crayons.”We had a guy who gave $10,000 after we did an interview on the ABC and $20,000 was donated from other people who heard us,” Mr McKechnie told 612 ABC Brisbane’s Rachel Fountain.”In the end we got just under $30,000 in total — it’s been amazing.”The idea for the crayons came after the duo spoke to therapists who said children going through abuse would attend art therapy classes and draw monsters.”It struck a chord with us and we wanted to turn it around …
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612 ABC Brisbane

By

Jessica Hinchliffe

Posted

November 25, 2016 11:46:09

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All profits from the monster crayons go to the children’s charity Act For Kids. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)