It is something of a holy grail in Science education to see high school students recognised for making their own scientific contributions to our understanding of how the world works.
Barker students and staff are not only teachers and learners, but creators who produce research thinking and writing, often supported through The Barker Institute. A recent opportunity to develop Barker's contribution to the academic community has been in connection with the new Science Extension course, a 1-unit course offered to Year 12 students studying any other science subject.
Science Extension: Students as researchers
First taught in 2019, Science Extension combines coursework (covering research methodology, inferential statistics, and the history and philosophy of science) with an individual research project. The latter is designed to be a genuine contribution to scientific knowledge, something that is typically reserved for honours or post-graduate students having already completed years of university. Barker students are producing outstanding research across various fields of science including projects such as synthesis of antimalarial drugs, the potential of various plants to filter water, and computer modelling and 3D printing of propellers of various efficiencies.
We have been developing laboratory spaces and resources to facilitate student projects, enhancing our capacity to offer projects in organic chemistry and microbiology. This has facilitated a collaboration with Associate Professor Alice Motion from the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney who leads the Breaking Good Project, a citizen science project which involves high school students in real chemistry research projects exploring the world's most important medicines. As part of this project, Kai Wong (20) has successfully synthesized a novel analogue of the antimalarial drug, Daraprim which is being tested for its effectiveness as an anti-malarial agent.
Presenting student research at an international conference
Arabella Crowley (20) had a poster presentation accepted to the Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA) conference, held virtually in Wollongong in June. Arabella's research into emotions of students in the high-school Physics laboratory received positive feedback from various members of the science education academic community. We warmly commend Arabella for her outstanding achievement.
Arabella's poster can be viewed at https://bit.ly/31XmbNo