2017 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards
QAHS 2016 graduates Naomi Smith and Amy Zhou were outstanding QA ambassadors at the 2017 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards on 7 February. The students attended a four day Science Experience camp in Melbourne prior to the Awards event, held at Zinc, Federation Square. Each finalist received a $250 prize and Amy was awarded second prize of $3000 in the Science Investigations and was also selected to represent Australia at the 2017 Intel Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, USA.
Naomi and Amy reported that the experience was a real highlight connected to their time as QAHS students. They had the opportunity to work with a range of interesting representatives from the CSIRO, universities, and the CEO of BHP Billiton Foundation.
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 sees many eligible to be selected as semi-finalists and then finalists in these Awards and we have in fact had a total of 32 student finalists since QAHS first entered the Awards in 2009 – the only school in the country with such success! Well done Naomi and Amy, and also, QAHS Science staff.
Prize winning projects and all finalists’ video profiles are located at http://www.scienceawards.org.au/News/2017-Awards-Winners-Announced
Our 2017 Finalists
Investigating the efficacy of P. Aeruginosa in degrading hydrocarbons
Oil spills can have devastating effects on our oceans and fragile marine ecosystems. Naomi tried to find a more effective way of cleaning up oil spills by using the common bacterium of P. Aeruginosa to degrade hydrocarbons that are often found in crude oil such as Xylene, Ethyl Acetate, Paraffin oils and Hexane. Naomi measured a substrate produced through the cells’ oxidizing process and then used this as a marker for degradation.
Self-derived peptides: inhibition of bacterial growth without resistance
After a friend’s father died from a bacterial infection that failed to respond to antibiotics, Amy decided to put her interest in molecular chemistry to work by finding a way to fight antibiotic resistance. The World Health Organisation warns that antibiotic resistance is a major global health threat to the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria. Amy found that when the protein structure of Fructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase (GFAT) is disrupted, it is more difficult for bacteria to mutate and there is a lower likelihood of the bacteria developing resistance.