Science by Doing

Zapping possums and gourmet ice cream

What has zapping a possum on a highwire got to do with physics? What is the connection between industrial chemistry and fig and caramel ice cream?

These questions and many more are answered in Science by Doings latest Year 9 units Light Sound Action, and Chemical Reactions, currently being trialled in 10 schools across the ACT, Northern Territory, NSW, South Australia and regional Victoria.

As well as varying in science content, each unit continues to have a slightly different feel and is sophisticated enough to keep our high school students engaged and motivated. The Energy unit features a ‘click and see’ possum traversing electrical highwires. When will the possum be zapped?

Science by Doing: promoting careers in science

Science teacher: ‘Why aren’t you studying chemistry next year?’
Year 9 student: ‘No way … I don’t want to be a chemist. I’m keen on food and I care about health and animals … and maybe agriculture! So why would I care about chemistry?’
Science teacher: ‘Well that sounds like a career in food & nutrition, biomedical sciences or veterinary science, and possibly Earth and environment science. Do you realise all of these require some chemical knowledge?’

High school is the time for students to start thinking more seriously about diverse science careers and investigating course requirements, so as not to limit their options further down the track.

Subtly, and using an integrated approach, the Chemical Reactions unit includes several activities which highlight the relevance and application of chemical knowledge across diverse career fields, and everyday life. Click below to hear one of the embedded career videos profiling Ms Penny Frost, a young personable chemical engineer with varied project experience — and most importantly a link to ice cream! The video captures Penny’s initial uncertainty about career choices in the sciences, and the diverse hands-on experiences she later enjoyed as a chemical engineer working on projects such as the development of diabetic testing kits and Maggie Beer’s ice cream. The Chemical Reactions unit also includes other activities profiling careers as well as applications of chemical knowledge to everyday situations.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science

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