2016 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards
On Tuesday 9 February, I was privileged to again attend this Awards Ceremony in Melbourne. This year, three of our 2015 Year 12 graduates were named as national finalists in the 2016 BHP Billiton Research Awards. The students attended a four day Science Experience camp in Melbourne prior to the Awards event, held at Zinc, Federation Square, Melbourne. The Awards Ceremony audience was again impressed with our number of finalists. Whilst this year we didn’t win a major award, each finalist received a $250 prize and our graduate students reported that the experience was a real highlight connected to their time as QAHS students. They had the opportunity to meet with a range of interesting representatives from the CSIRO, universities, and the CEO of BHP Billiton.
The BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards are Australia’s most prestigious school science awards. They reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects, which demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific procedures. Our students’ work in their Science Extended Essays guarantees that they will be eligible to be selected as finalists in these Awards and we have in fact had a total of 30 student finalists since QAHS first entered the Awards in 2009 – significantly more students than any other school in such a time frame.
Prize winning projects and all finalists’ video profiles are located at http://www.scienceawards.org.au/Student-Awards
Our 2016 Finalists
A keen biology student, Bethany focused on finding a cheap and effective mouthwash, with the goal to reduce the number of people who experience tooth decay due to poor oral hygiene. Her research found that easily accessible and inexpensive, sodium bicarbonate can function as a mouthwash as it is safe to ingest in low quantities and it can neutralise acid, the main cause of tooth decay.
With an interest in microbiology and the topic of antibiotic resistance, Eric investigated whether the combined administration of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole would have more effect against specific bacteria than if they were administrated independently. Measuring the change in optical density over time and analysing the differences between these patterns, Eric determined that working together really is better, with the combination antibacterial therapy displaying synergism against the growth of specific bacteria.
Interested in a report on the degradation of water quality in Tasmania’s supply, Yash turned his attention to water quality closer to home. He investigated two water treatment plants and conducted six trials of 14 different places for indicators including pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and concentration of iron. His results showed minor deterioration in some parameters, but the overall quality of the water was fit for human consumption. Yash’s data can help the Gold Coast City Council in planning a system of regular sampling and identifying locations for improving their water distribution system.
Mrs Jane Sleeman