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News > School Newsletter > National Science Week 2021

National Science Week 2021

From a garden photo competition and Tutor Group trivia, to alumnae presentations and an Agriculture incursion, National Science Week was full and fun for students across the school.
National Science Week at Loreto Normanhurst
National Science Week at Loreto Normanhurst

No pandemic or lockdown closures could dull the spirits of the students and staff who celebrated National Science Week last week. Armed with a one week only limited-edition colourful Science Week Zoom backdrop, the festivities were foremost in our mind. In keeping with the theme, 'Food: Different by Design', students were asked to share photographs of themselves with edible items that they are growing. It was lovely seeing the beautiful lockdown photographs. Congratulations to Matilda Windsor (Year 9) who won the first prize for her entry in a field of canola. An honourable mention to runners up Hilary Zhang (Year 8) and Cartier Tsagaris (Year 7).

All students had the opportunity to take part in the Science Week Tutor Group Quiz on Tuesday and to see who knew most about their food. It turns out that Ward 4 was the winning team and took home the glory. Ward 6, Mulhall 4 and Barry 5 were all tied in second place. Well done, girls! I look forward to giving you your prizes when we are back on campus.

Students of the school had the privilege of listening to and watching Loreto alumnae Rhonda Daly ('71) and Erin Burns ('98) as well as Grace Boulding (Year 11) and her father, Dean discuss the impact of Science and Agriculture technologies. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the videos yet, click on the links. We are so grateful to them for giving their time to share their insights with us.

Science Week closed with the Year 10 Agriculture students attending an incursion with Sydney University Future Plants for Food Security. Year 10 student Edie Tassell wrote a great reflection about the incursion which you can read below.

For many, we capped off Science Week with a fly by from the International Space Station which was clearly visible that Friday evening at 7.23pm.

Thank you to the enthusiastic students and the dedicated Science staff who put together the activities and all who participated in the events. Please enjoy Edie's reflection below. 

Ms Simone Bryant

Head of Science

 

Year 10 Agriculture Incursion

Last Friday, the Year 10 Agriculture class was lucky enough to attend the University of Sydney’s Science week presentation, focusing on the future of plants for food security. The talk was led by numerous professors who are doing amazing research to help ensure food security as we begin to tackle climate change and the increase in population over time.

The first speaker was Brent Kaiser who talked about the amazing protein power within plants! Current estimates suggest that by 2050, 54% of our protein will need to come from plant-based sources. The next speaker was Daniel Tan who talked about cotton production and how genetic modification can be used to create plants that are resistant to pests, meaning they don’t require insecticides that harm the environment. The third speaker was Brian Jones (my personal favourite) who taught us about CRISPR, a technology that can create precise, targeted changes to genes, with the potential to make plants more resilient to pests and diseases, thus increase the overall yield.

The fourth speaker was Robert Park and he spoke about plant disease. Did you know that, in the six most important crops globally, disease reduces yield by 42%? His program strives to understand how plants such as wheat can defend themselves from a pathogen such as rust so that researchers can develop more durable, sustainable forms of wheat, rather than using pesticides. The final speaker, Floris Van Ogtrop, spoke to us about food in the city where hydroponics and vertical farming in a shipping container could be implemented in communities, producing mass amounts of food in a small space. The boxes are sustainable and limit the amount of land required to produce food, which helps to create more accessible fresh food to city and urban areas.

All of these talks gave amazing insights into the future of plants and how we can adapt our food to not only feed our growing population but ultimately make food production more sustainable. 

After these talks, we then got to join four activities where speakers gave us practical insight into how to apply scientific methods to plants. These activities included how spiral patterns formed in plants, viewing mangroves under the microscope, how resistance can be engineered and a tour of the Camden facilities where researchers can assess how environmental changes affect plant growth.

All of these talks gave us all a deeper understanding and knowledge about the science behind plants and food, and the endless possibilities that can be made to help create the plants of the future!

Edie Tassell, Year 10, Agriculture Technology

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