A Kiwi in Kowie: Bringing science to Far North Queensland

Last week was National Science Week, an annual celebration of science in Australia that aims to showcase scientific research to the general public and encourage young people to be fascinated by the world around them. This year over 1000 National Science Week events took place across Australia including Catch a Rising Star: Women in Queensland Science, which sent teams of Queensland’s brightest early-to-mid career female scientists across the state to share their stories.

Emma Livingstone, Kowie kids and triton snail shell

I travelled to Kowanyama (“place of many waters” in the Yir-Yoront language), a remote Aboriginal community on the western side of the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. I was accompanied by Meaghan Smith, a marine molecular biologist from University of the Sunshine Coast, and Amie Khosla, a physicist from The University of Queensland. We spent three days working with the children at Kowanyama State School, which has approximately 200 students from pre-prep to year 12.

We started each session with a problem solving activity where pairs of students were tied together and they had to figure out how to free themselves without breaking the string. It was a good lesson in scientific thinking and one of the highlights for me was seeing their faces light up when they finally worked it out. The kids had a blast making balloon rockets, slime (to learn about the different states of matter), crystals, fossils, lava lamps, and decorating their own lab coats, and we had fun sharing our passion for science with the next generation. The Kowie kids reminded me of the simple joys of putting on a lab coat and making slime and I hope that we showed that science can be fun.

Follow Emma on Twitter @EK_Livingstone

Last updated:
16 February 2018