Connor Wallace, Scotch College
I love science! I’m sure you do too, that’s why you are also interested in the Oliphant Science Awards Competition (OSAC). I am in Year 6 and will be entering the OSAC for the sixth time this year. Each year, I find it quite difficult to choose which category to enter – there are so many to choose from! I am most interested in environmental science but have done projects on physics and chemistry topics before. I usually enter at least two categories each year. In Year 4, I was awarded the ‘University of South Australia – Sustainable Future Prize for the most inspiring entry highlighting the value of Information Technology, Engineering and Environmental Science to a Sustainable Future’. My multimedia project was titled Green Team Fun Facts. This was a collection of the weekly interactive environmental presentations I did for my class.
My brother and sisters have also entered the OSAC many times and been successful. A few of their entries have included designing a game about climate change called ‘Perishing Poles’, grown alum crystals, photographed tessellating patterns in nature, invented a pouch to clip on crutches, and designed a poster showing the difference between X-rays and ultrasound.
So, what tips and suggestions do I have? Jump onto the OSAC website early, have a look at the category topics. Then go about your life as normal, noticing how the world is filled with science. When something sparks your interest, link it to an OSAC topic. Last year, after visiting the zoo, I wanted to do a project that focused on the giraffe’s circulatory adaptations. Because of their height, giraffes need super high blood pressure to pump blood all the way around their tall body. I called my poster ‘Circulatory Marvel’. This has been my most enjoyable project so far.
After you have decided on a project, get started straight away! Make sure you a space in your home that you can work on it. Hopefully you don’t have to pack it away each day. Last year, my poster was on our dining room table for 3 weeks – thanks mum and dad. Work out when you can work on your project and stick to it. You will feel very proud of yourself when you hand your completed project in.
I’m excited about the new category this year – Citizen Science. Citizen science is about community members interested in science, like you and me, helping scientists by collecting information for real science projects. My family and I participated in a citizen science project on Kangaroo Island in these past holidays. ‘Passport to Recovery’ is a collection of citizen science projects which are helping KI recover after the 2019-20 bushfires.
Speak to your teachers and friends about doing a meaningful citizen science project as a whole class or year level. This would take more planning but be very impactful.I think that the OSAC certainly does what it aims to do - develop students' interest in science! It certainly does for me.