Mag­netic at­trac­tion

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Aaron Cor­lett

KENT Street Se­nior High School stu­dents went on an ex­cur­sion un­like any other to the South Mag­netic Pole.

KENT Street Se­nior High School stu­dents went on an ex­cur­sion un­like any other.

They went on a 12-hour round trip from Perth to the South Mag­netic Pole on Jan­uary 26, thanks to their teacher Suzy Ur­ba­niak.

Ms Ur­ba­niak won the 2016 Prime Min­is­ter’s Prize for Ex­cel­lence in Sci­ence award and was of­fered a trip by the Antarc­tica Veter­ans As­so­ci­a­tion but de­cided to ex­tend the gift to her stu­dents.

“It tagged on to my phi­los­o­phy about mak­ing them do sci­ence in real-life sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

“We had 18 stu­dents come along and seven adults, which in­cluded teach­ers and par­ents.

“The idea was that it was a fly­ing class­room; we trav­elled 10,000 feet over Casey Sta­tion and a Rus­sian Sta­tion, it was pretty in­cred­i­ble.”

Ms Ur­ba­niak said the Qan­tas Boe­ing 747 air­craft left from the do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal at Perth Air­port.

“The re­ac­tion of the stu­dents was a sense of amaze­ment, this will never hap­pen again and so the op­por­tu­nity to go was one they couldn’t miss,” she said.

“The stu­dents paid a rel­a­tively low $1000 to go. But to see the ice­bergs, the blue ocean and the rocky ex­panses was amaz­ing.

“It was an op­por­tu­nity to see vis­ual and real-life sci­ence and to take ab­stract sci­en­tific con­cepts out of the class­room.”

Ms Ur­ba­niak said the stu­dents also did some sim­ple ex­per­i­ments while they were on the plane.

Univer­sity of Western Aus­tralia and In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Ra­dio As­tron­omy Re­search can­di­dates went along on the trip with the stu­dents as well.

Dur­ing trip, PhD can­di­dates Sarah Bruzzese and David Goz­zard, from UWA’s School of Physics, re-cre­ated sev­eral clas­si­cal ex­per­i­ments to de­tect cos­mic rays and mea­sure the Earth’s mag­netic field as they ap­proach the South Mag­netic Pole.

Ms Bruzzese, whose doc­tor­ate de­gree will be con­ferred in the near fu­ture, is now a sec­ondary teacher at St Hilda’s Angli­can School for Girls.

Mr Goz­zard’s the­sis in­volves de­sign­ing sys­tems that will help the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray (SKA) syn­chro­nise the vast amounts of in­for­ma­tion it will gather from the sky once the ra­dio tele­scope is built in Western Aus­tralia and South Africa in the next decade.

Top: Sarah Bruzzese talks to stu­dents Lee-An Lu, Ethan Hunt, Emma Anderson and teacher Suzy Ur­ba­niak. Above: Antarc­tic ice­bergs.

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