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Brisbane's Future - A Stuents's Perspective

Budding Scientist and Future Water Bodyguard Sam Jones gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges students were tasked with at the recent World Science Festival.

World Science Festival

On 11 March, ten students from Ambrose Treacy College, were chosen to go to the Green Heart Schools Future BNE project as part of the World Science Festival in King George Square. Scientists estimate that by the year 2030 the world will go into a global drought but that is where these young students come into the story. They were tasked with the challenge of building a sustainable water security device that would improve the security of water in South East Queensland by 2030.

Street Science

The ten drought busting student’s were Angus, Finley, Fin, Raphael, Charlie, Nate, Euan, Max and Sam. The whole day was informative and the first exhibit was Street Science which showed us how to make something resembling snow with nappies (Sodium Polyacrylate), then we learnt about sea urchins and bamboo sharks (they were there in the flesh) after that we learnt about the jobs of sewage cleaners and what is safe to flush down the toilet without causing massive clogging. We also saw how vegetation can play a big part in how clean our water supply is. The scientist demonstrated with a large interactive hands-on water catchment model.

Tour of City Hall

After the hype of Street Science, the students went on a tour of City Hall where we saw the golden mirror room which is where Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has his meetings and interviews. Following that we toured the basement where soldiers from WWII would scribe their names on their visit to Brisbane.

The Museum

A questionnaire followed in the museum and we had to use the museum exhibits (The River: A History of Brisbane) to answer the questions. After their fact finding they headed back to King George Square to compete.
One of the biggest highlights of their day was meeting the legendary Dr Karl Kruszelnicki who is known for being a great scientist and has published many books. The Lord Mayer Graham Quirk spoke in front of everyone about the risk of Brisbane falling into a drought, his point was then reinforced with a few experiments’ from the street science crew who were very happy to see so many school students taking part in Green Heart Schools Future BNE project.

After hours of researching and fact finding at all the exhibits it was time to break for Lunch. Many of the student’s enjoyed Subway and straight after their lunch it was finally time to compete in the World Science Festival. All teams had their own workspace table, it was circular with ten seats all around the table it was covered in paper so they could draw their designs all over the table.

The Challenge

The first challenge was that they had to go around the meeting area finding knowledge cards but could only pick up 10 per team so once they had picked up the maximum number of knowledge cards they had to read and answer the questions in either detailed sentences or a diagram, they had about 25 minutes to complete all the answers, after this challenge it was finally time to build the water filtrating device.

The World Science Festival had a variety of leftover scraps and junk with only had a short period of time to plan before the timer started then all the students got up and charged to the table where the scraps were to collect what they needed for their creation. They grabbed all kinds of things from plastic cups to broken phones to work with. Each team had around two hours to construct their filtration device. The first hour was mainly sticking and putting the parts together while trying to make it look good, the second hour was mainly putting as much stuff on as possible to make it look bigger and functional.

Making a video

After the two hours had gone by it was time to create a video and each team had an iPad with a camera to record a short video explaining how the prototype works and what it specializes in. The Ambrose Treacy students had built a filtration and desalination plant that collects rainwater and sewage which then runs it through a filter that uses Ultra violet light to purify it. It boils it to remove any silt and salt remaining and then runs it through a pipe where it goes through one last filter to make sure the water is entirely clean. Six water storage compartments with a maximum capacity of 10 mega litres are used to store the water. After the work was completed the students supplied the video to the people in charge of the Green Heart Schools Future BNE World Science Festival.

Sam Jones Year 7 student