Next generation of geoscientists uncover their potential at Geoscience Australia

18 January 2018

Australia's most talented science students are investigating real-world problems at Geoscience Australia throughout January. During their visits they will find and analyse a potential mineral deposit using the same techniques that our scientists use in the field and laboratories.

High-performing incoming year 12 students from across Australia are welcomed annually as part of the summer science opportunities on offer in the nation's capital. These programs enable students to gain practical science experience, learn new skills, build networks and discover how the geosciences support industry and innovation.

Geoscience Australia's CEO, Dr James Johnson welcomed the visiting students and explained how geoscience offers many exciting and varied career paths.

"Geoscience is a very diverse field that integrates many different disciplines. By studying subjects such as geology, environmental science, maths, chemistry, physics, computing and engineering you will develop skills needed to help solve Australia's major geoscience challenges," Dr Johnson said.

"Some of these challenges include helping to unlock the secrets of Australia's hidden mineral systems, keeping our geographic information up-to-date, managing Australia's precious water resources and finding ways to better prepare communities for the impact of natural hazards."

During the 2018 National Youth Science Forum visits, students used the same techniques as real geoscientists to find and analyse the potential of a mineral sands deposit. The students have worked in teams to complete a magnetic survey, use specialist laboratory equipment to separate out the economic minerals, and then run a detailed analysis of their samples.

"By challenging these students with real-world problems, we are giving the students practical geoscience experience," explained Shona Blewett, coordinator of Geoscience Australia's Education Centre.

"We aim to make this an applied and engaging experience so that each of these students are inspired to explore geoscience further and ultimately pursue a geoscience career," Shona added.

Geoscience Australia has also hosted a visit from the top-performing Earth and Environmental Science students attending the Australian Science Olympiads Summer School. Only 24 students are selected nationwide to attend the Earth and Environmental Science summer school. The final selection exam will determine which four students will represent Australia at the 2018 International Earth Science Olympiad in Thailand in August 2018.

Each of these keen and engaged students need support from their teachers to reach their full potential. To support science teachers, Geoscience Australia also hosted professional development workshops for Secondary teachers participating in the Australian Science Teachers Association's STEM X Academy and the National Science Teachers Summer School. These sessions provided teachers with new experiences, skills, ideas and confidence to deliver innovative STEM experiences for their students.

High-school students use scientific equipment to undertake a geophysical surveyStudents undertaking a geophysical survey during their visit to Geoscience Australia.