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Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 28/06/2023

By Rachel Pillar, Brayden Wilson, Natasha Florance and Lenny Laver, Kangaroo Island Community Education

2022 was quite the year for Kangaroo Island Community Education (KICE) in the Oliphant Science Awards. After several years spent building the profile of the Awards at KICE and some great successes, forty-five KICE students registered thirty-four projects. This might not sound like many, but for a small, regional school it was exciting. As the year progressed students (as well as the teachers and parents supporting them) found it increasingly challenging to work on their projects, and the impact of absences due to illness took its toll. In the end, nineteen students in Reception to Year 12 submitted fifteen different projects and we were feeling a bit deflated. Compounding these challenges, in the days leading up to on-site project delivery, we were anxiously watching the weather forecast. A massive front was expected to come through the night before projects had to be delivered, and all ferries over the coming days were going to be cancelled! The community really came together to support our students’ projects to be delivered. Lilly, one of our SSOs, frantically organised for our AEU representative, Michelle, to meet our pastoral care worker, Pat, at the ferry terminal. Michelle was booked on the last ferry sailing that morning, and Pat dropped everything to do a mercy dash to Penneshaw to deliver our projects! Michelle safely transported them to the Adelaide Showgrounds, however after everything we had been through, we felt that it really didn’t matter whether we won prizes or not – simply finishing and delivering our projects had been monumental.

However, the lengths our students, staff and extended community went to paid off, with eight projects winning either sponsor prizes or category awards in KICE’s most successful year yet! We were astonished to come away with four sponsor prizes from Rowe Scientific, first place in the Department for Education Young Scientist Awards 9-12, the Flinders STEM Academy Regional Student Prize R-12 and the 11-12 Platinum Sponsor Prize (Defence Science and Technology Group Secondary School Prize)!

We were keen to hear from some of our prize-winning students to discover more about their experiences in participating in the Oliphant Science Awards, as well as their advice for this year’s entrants. We asked each student to respond to four questions. Here are their answers.


  1. What were the most memorable parts of your experience in entering last year’s Oliphant Science Awards?
  2. What was most challenging (and how did you overcome challenges)?
  3. What do you think makes KICE so successful as a school in entering the Awards?
  4. What advice would you give to this year’s entrants on how to create a successful project?

Lenny (Year R-2 Models and Inventions)

My most memorable experience in the Oliphant Science Awards was building my model. The biggest challenge was thinking of an idea. KICE is successful because we tried hard. Having Thursday catch ups with the teachers so they could help and see how our projects were going really helped. My advice to students in 2023 is to get help from Mum and Dad. Talk to your teachers and go to support sessions if they are run by your school.

278 021 Laver 2

 Tash (Year 5-6 Games)

The most memorable thing for me was creating all the drawings and making the little tokens for my game with my Mum’s help. It took a long time, but I enjoyed spending time with her. Challenges I overcame were trying to figure out new and interesting (but still easy to follow) game rules and also researching bees for new and interesting facts for the question cards. At KICE children are encouraged to join OSA, but it is not compulsory. Kids that are doing it are interested in science and want to research and learn more about a topic of their choice (and there are so many options - it is sometimes hard to choose!). There is such a wide variety of interests among KICE students and that everyone likes different things, and the teachers help expand our knowledge and achieve great things. Kangaroo Island is also such a unique place and we are surrounded by so many interesting things in nature – it’s fun to share this in a game or a poster. My advice to other students is to look at the things that other people do in that category and try to learn and do something new and interesting, because that is the intent of the Oliphant Science Awards.

278 028 Florance

 278 024 Wilson

Brayden (Year 11-12 Multimedia and Photography)

The most memorable part of my experience in last year’s Oliphant Science Awards was the presentation night, particularly the speeches. It was challenging to fully flesh out an open-ended question and include comprehensive content in a such short video for a rather large field of science. I think KICE is successful because of the teacher support and passion of students to learn in the classroom and discover more outside of school. The relevancy of the topics to the students also helps. My advice to entrants in this year’s competition is to fully understand the task and pick a topic that has some relevancy to you, or that you are particularly passionate about. Relate the topic back to reality in some way. For multimedia specifically, write the script almost like it is an essay, and try your best to produce the highest quality presentation as possible.