“Body at War” at Federation University, Ballarat


On Friday 17th April, four VCE Biology students attended the “Your Body at War” program, facilitated by the Gene Technology Access Centre at Federation University. Kiri, Leah, Che and Stephanie travelled to Ballarat to participate in the program, which celebrates the “Day of Immunology”.

Together with about 100 students from three other schools, they had the opportunity to hear from Associate Professor Robyn Slattery (Monash University) about the history of vaccination, current research in immunology and exciting new discoveries about immunotherapy in cancer treatment.

They then donned lab-coats and entered the science laboratories at Federation University, where they learned how to use specialist equipment and techniques, such as the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). They also had the opportunity to discuss career perspectives in science with staff and Dr Misty Jenkins from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

One of the sponsors of this event is the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Later this year we have three Year 11 students who have been very fortunate to obtain a work experience placement at WEHI in Melbourne. This is an exciting opportunity for them to find about authentic medical research, working with expert scientists in a world-leading facility.

Also in science news, students in Year 10 have the opportunity to attend the Science Experience Ballarat, at Federation University from 29th June to 1st July. This three day, hands-on program is a great introduction to the diverse world of science and it’s connection to a range of interesting careers. Please apply online prior to 8th June. Speak to Mrs Gow for further information.

Free Polycom Seminar – “The Plastic Brain”

As part of Education Week next week, we have the opportunity to link up with a special seminar to be held at the Gene Technology Access Centre in Melbourne. Associate Professor  Chris Reid from The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will be presenting “The Plastic Brain” on Wednesday 21st May 2014, 6:30 pm. You can participate at school using our Polycom video-conferencing equipment. Dinner will be provided,  if there are enough people interested.

The brain is remarkable. Just how do we remember the colour of our first car, what we had for lunch yesterday or who our Prime Minister is? We don’t have all the answers but we have come a long way. In this lecture I will take you on a journey about how we think brain cells work. We will discuss how brain cells change when we learn, what we can do to learn better and what might be going wrong in disease. I’ll finish with exciting new ways we are looking into brain function that will tell us more about how this fascinating organ works.

 This talk is a special event during education week, and teachers and students (as well as the community) are especially encouraged to come along.  Chris Read is head of the synaptic plasticity lab at the Florey. Plasticity is the capacity of the brain to change with learning. Can an adult retrain their brain after injury? Can we train our brains to improve our performance? What are the implications for medical research?

I hope you will consider this opportunity to listen to an expert in neuroscience and learn more about this fascinating organ that defines our personality, drives our body and determines our very survival. Please contact Britt Gow by email at brittgow(at)gmail.com or by phoning the school.

Science and Engineering Challenge

Check out our Slideshow here!

And our Animoto video here!

On Friday 8th May twenty Year 10 students, together with Mr Foreman, Mrs Cameron and Mrs Gow, attended the Science and Engineering Challenge at Deakin University in Geelong. This annual event is sponsored by the University of Newcastle, NSW and Rotary Australia together with the Federal Government. Students participated in a range of activities including:

  • The leprechaun cannon – Build compression cannon from plumbing pipe and fittings to knock over a paper leprechaun
  • Who gets the water? – Design a water reticulation system to meet certain criteria
  • The Dish – Decode a cryptic message from “outer space;
  • “Back to the Future” – Design and construct a turbine to propel a train carriage back and forth along railsnormal;
  • “Ecohabitat” – Design and build a model house that collects rainwater, stays cool, withstands wind and supports a helipad.
  • Hover Frenzy – Design and build a manoeuvrable hovercraft from a garbage bag, polystyrene tray, masking tape and balsa wood.
  • Gold Fever – Build a balsa wood bridge that can transport gold ingots across a bottomless ravine.

Students demonstrated persistence, team-work, creativity, resilience and good senses of humour during the day, despite the difficulty of the tasks. Of the nine schools attending (over 300 students), Hawkesdale came a respectable sixth, with some tough competition. The highlight of the day was the bridge ‘testing’, in which each of the balsa wood bridges that had been constructed was tested using weights – 100g, 200g, 300g, 400, 500g, 1kg and the ‘bridge buster’ – a 2kg weight!

Race Week at Hawkesdale

As usual it has been another very busy week at Hawkesdale P12 College – here is a sample of some of the learning activities taking place:

  • Our Year 7 students started a unit on Cells in science and used the compound light microscopes to observe plant tissue.
  • Prem, one of our year 10 students, cooked chicken parmagianas (with chips and salad or mashed potato and vegetables) for many of our hungry staff members. At $5.00 each, it was a cheap and delicious hot meal.
  • Year 10 students are travelling to Deakin University in Geelong on Friday, to attend the Rotary Science and Engineering Challenge. We have been sponsored by Rotary and Southern Rural Water, so there is no cost to students. This event aims to encourage students to consider a career in the science or engineering fields by offering a range of challenges to plan, create and construct bridges, boats, electricity networks and other activities.
  • Year 7 Science and Year 11 Biology students had the opportunity to dissect rats to observe the digestive, respiratory and reproductive sytems.
  • Year 9 students walked part of the Port Fairy to Koroit Rail Trail and will visit again to assist the Rail trail Committee with revegetation projects.
  • Mr Webb constructed a “Great Wall of China” from play-dough and sugar cubes fin preparation for his junior Chinese classes.
  • Our secondary athletes who qualified for the South West Zone competition attended Brauerander Park to compete in their events.

Questacon "Smart Moves" @ Hawkesdale!

Ivy (year 7) and Gina (from Questacon)

On Tuesday 10th March, 112 students from Years 7 to 11 attended a presentation by Amy and Gina from Canberra. This free show, sponsored by the Department of Education, Science and Training, demonstrated examples of Technology and Innovation by Australian young people. We learnt about the ‘dingo urine gel’ used as a kangaroo deterrent in plantations, the magic water bottle (that uses changes in air pressure to condense water vapour from the air), a pipe that directs stormwater to nature strip trees and a golf buggy that follows it’s owner automatically. Another invention has been developed by a fourteen year old girl to make doing up horse girth straps easier – a system of pulleys that reduces the force required.
If you found the presentation interesting and think you have some brilliant ideas that could be turned into reality, enter the “Invention Convention 2009” – entries close Monday 16th March, 2009. Find out more about Questacon and the Invention Convention at: http://smartmoves.questacon.edu.au/

Here is a Wordle that our year 8 students created by brainstorming about the presentation.

"Wild Action" visits Hawkesdale!

Mr Distel wears the latest in animal fashion!

Mr Distel wears the latest in animal fashion!

On Monday and Tuesday this week we had “Wild Action” visit Hawkesdale – Xavier and his menagerie of native Australian animals came to school. It was a fast-paced, action-packed show with the opportunity to touch many of the creatures including a tiny squirrel glider, green tree-frog, stumpy-tailed lizard, short-necked turtle, black-headed python and salt-water crocodile. One of the largest animals was an olivine python – about 3 metres long and growing up to 75 kg in weight! Students from Prep to year 9 had the opportunity to see the show, hear Xavier talk about the classification of animals and their various adaptations, diets and behaviours. Many of the teachers tried out a snake-skin scarf, including Mr Distel, while the students modelled tree-frog hats and turtle-burgers!

Science Careers Breakfast at RMIT University

RMIT breakfast

Four Year 11 students and Mrs Gow attended the Science Careers Breakfast at RMIT on Tuesday morning. The presentation “Science for the Real World – Everything is Relative” included an opening speech by the Hon. Gavin Jennings, Minister for Climate Change, the Environment and Innovation, Victorian Government. We also heard from industry representatives, recent graduates and current students about the ways in which science impacts on our everyday life. Daniel, Naomi, Alice and Jayne had the opportunity to attend this event due to their interest and potential to study in a science, technology or engineering field.