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Science Experience gives school students the run of the lab

Science leapt off the textbook page for more than 80 year nine students from across NSW when they took over UTS's Faculty of Science recently for The Science Experience 2009.

In a three-day program of workshops, shows and activities, students delved into physics, chemistry, mathematics, bacteriology and traditional Chinese medicine.

Without a textbook in sight they learnt about forensic techniques, climate change and parasite detection through activities such as dusting for fingerprints, creating high energy voltages and extracting DNA.

The students also participated in engineering and IT workshops, designed to give them an all-round perspective of the science, technology and engineering fields.

With special guest presentations from UTS:Science PhD students and senior lecturers, it was no wonder that Amy, a student from Beverley Hills Girls High, commented that The Science Experience was "like nothing we’ve done in class." She said learning about science in the university environment, without textbooks and worksheets, was "a great experience, and so fun and different."

The forensics workshop

At the end of the three days there were a few mixed reviews about the joys of science and mathematics. Some had decided that they were "definitely" doing forensics – "the one in applied chemistry, 'cause I like chemistry," said one enthusiast. However, not all were convinced. "No matter how you serve it to me, I’ll always hate maths," another said.

But perhaps the best measure of success was when Alexis, a bubbly drama student from Chester Hill High, left UTS with the farewell, "I’ll see you in four years."

For more information about the UTS:Science Outreach Program and other news and events, visit www.science.uts.edu.au/for/advisors.html.

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