Somerset Times

World Science Festival

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 10, Term One, 2018

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On Saturday 24 March, a group of 15 students from Years 10 to 12 accompanied by Ms Hyman and Mr Brodar, were lucky enough to travel to Brisbane to experience the World Science Festival. World-leading scientists, communicators and performers from around the world came together at this event and delved into what makes us human, how we have advanced and how we can ensure that we live for longer.

We attended insightful seminars about Ancient DNA and ‘Bugs and Drugs’, each hosted by a panel of professors and experts who specialised in these respective fields. We also went through the Brisbane Museum to see the current exhibits on display and walked through ‘Science Street’ which included a range of scientific displays and exhibits.

In the first seminar of the day, the panel discussed the mystery of what happens to DNA after death, which has long fascinated scientists. The seminar explored the biological processes which degrade DNA after death and compared different cases to show how DNA changes in the vastly different climates in our world. We heard everything from how penguins are preserved by the frozen weather of Antarctica (we were even shown bones from a 6000-year-old penguin!) to the dangerous recovery of sacred ibis mummies from the catacombs in Egypt and even heard how DNA was used to uncover the mystery of what killed Tutankhamun. But for any Jurassic Park fans out there, we can regretfully inform you that dinosaur DNA cannot be used to create an amusement park, since the degradation over such a long period of time makes it practically non-existent.

After this we visited the Brisbane Museum, with many students fascinated by the interactive Perception Deception displays, and the live snakes and turtles to pet. We also explored the many stalls of Science Street, lining Southbank Parklands, from looking at robots to the importance of soil. Some students even took the opportunity to take a plant for themselves to bring home. We managed to have just enough time to enjoy a Science Committee family lunch before we were off again to see a seminar about ‘Bugs and Drugs’ at the Conservatorium.

We all know antibiotic drugs have saved millions and millions of lives since their discovery, yet as our students came to learn in the second seminar of the day, this antibiotic era may soon come to end. As bacteria continue to change and adapt to our medical remedies, our pharmaceutical defences have failed to change with them, raising concern about the threats of superbugs and a post-antibiotic era. The panel analysed how the government, industry and science have all affected the escalating war on antibiotic resistance, and discussed what we as a community can do to help.

It is undeniable that all the students involved enjoyed their World Science Festival learning experience. We would like to thank Ms Hyman and Ms Amores, for organising this wonderful opportunity to allow us to further explore our curiosities in science.

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