High school students from across Ballarat and regional Victoria were recognised for their scientific nous at the 2022 Peter Doherty Science Awards (PDSA) hosted by the Ballarat Tech School.
Five selected finalist teams of Years 7 to 10 students from Ballarat High School, Ballarat Grammar School, Marian College in Ararat and Good Shepherd College in Hamilton, presented scientific investigations into everyday problems to a live judging panel and audience of more than 60 people, detailing their research, experiments and discoveries.
Remee Simmons, Taryn Simmons and Kira Barbary from Ballarat High School team were named Overall Winner, taking home $1,200 for their project, “Would you be dryer by walking or running in the rain?”.
Belinda Wehl, Science Teacher, Ballarat High School said, “The students wanted to research a topic that most people would like an answer to, and with the ongoing wet weather decided it would be beneficial to determine ‘Would you be drier by walking or running in the rain?’. As Year 9 students at Ballarat High School this is a particularly important questions as their building is a five-minute walk from the rest of the school.”
“The girls worked independently to complete all components of the project. They only occasionally checked in with teachers to get opinions on their ideas and work and received advice and supplies from family on building the controlled rain. They displayed amazing initiative and focus to achieve such a well-researched project, and they had a lot of fun along the way.”
Alice McKenzie and Alexis Timms from Ballarat Grammar School were awarded the Highly Commended Community Award of $450 for their project, “Does the price of sunscreen affect the amount of UV protection it provides?” while the Communication Award of $300 was presented to Riley Millard and Archie Price from Good Shepherd College for their investigation, “Does milk act as a good stain remover?”.
A second team from Ballarat Grammar School with Victoria Clark, Liv Hargreaves and Caitlin Ward explored the question, “Does the cost of pads affect their absorbency?” while Marian College’s Penelope Bulger, Emily Ross and Emily Jarrett investigated “What is the most hygienic way to dry your hands?”.
The 2022 Peter Doherty Science Awards judging panel comprised George Fong, Chair, Committee for Ballarat; 2022 PDSA Ambassador from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Dr Miku Kuba; Nicole Ashby, Communications Manager Vitrafy Life Science; and Damon Minotti, Associate Director, Ballarat Tech School.
Ballarat Tech School, Associate Director, Damon Minotti said, “The judging panel could not have been more impressed with the quality of the presentations. The confidence of each team to collaborate on stage, to engage and entertain the audience and to answer probing questions from the judges that tested their scientific knowledge, rigour and findings was over and above what we expected from students at this age.”
“The fact that we had four schools present, including two regional schools, shows the growth and importance of the Awards in developing our next generation of curious minds as they problem solve the many challenges we will face in the future. After a stirring address from Dr Kuba about her own journey through STEM from local Ballarat student to renowned researcher, we may have even inspired our next Nobel Laureate.”
The Peter Doherty Science Award was established in 2009 as a joint initiative of the Committee for Ballarat and Australian Nobel Prize laureate Professor Peter Doherty.