Curiosity the key for next generation scientists

July 19, 2017

Students explored the curious world of virtual reality

More than 350 high school science students attended Murdoch University’s Perth Campus for a physics lecture about dark matter, black holes and the formation of the first galaxies in the Universe.

The pupils and their teachers attended the Women in Physics lecture, a free event organised by the Australian Institute of Physics and Murdoch University. Chief Scientist of WA, Professor Peter Klinken AC opened the day with a talk about the future importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — commonly known as STEM.

It was a day of physics fun and inspiration. Australian Institute of Physics Award winning lecturer from Melbourne University, Dr Katie Mack said being involved in the Murdoch University event and seeing such a large audience gave her hope for the future.

“It’s great when a university is able to capture the natural curiosity of students and help them find ways to express that curiosity and pursue their interests,” Dr Mack said.

Possessing a passion and natural curiosity for understanding how things worked was the catalyst that set Dr Mack on her path to become an internationally recognised astrophysicist, probing the building blocks of the cosmos.

“I love the big questions and trying to get to the bottom of how it all fits together is still what drives me,” she said.

“I had the same curiosity as a kid. My family really encouraged my curiosity by taking me to the observatory and listening to public talks by Stephen Hawking.

“Students attracted to science should feel free to pursue that interest and know that you don’t have to be the stereotypical uber nerd to get into science. Anyone can follow a career path if they have an interest and are passionate about it."

The students also heard about searching for ancient meteorites from Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering eminent speaker, Professor Phil Bland.

While at Murdoch University, students also enjoyed interactive science experiments at the iconic Bush Court, followed by a game-show style physics panel, where science met comedy.

Dean of the School of Engineering and Information Technology Bogdan Dlugogorski said it was important to give people avenues to follow their individual curiosity and to explore options for careers in science.

“There are many exciting things happening in Australian science research, which is why it’s wonderful to give a large number of students from many different places and backgrounds an opportunity to explore the world of STEM,” Professor Dlugogorski said.

“Making science fun and exciting for students is something that the School of Engineering and Information Technology is very proud of.”

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