Murdoch turns on the fireworks to inspire young sparks

May 28, 2013

Murdoch University’s roaming metallurgists are visiting Bunbury and Busselton this week to fire up high school students about the magic of metals.

Graeme Thompson and Stewart Kelly from Murdoch’s School of Engineering and Information Technology are in the region for three days visiting Bunbury Catholic College, Ocean Forest Lutheran College, MacKillop Catholic College and Australind Senior High School from May 28.

“The students will be treated a really explosive show, as many of these experiments have quite a bit of pop,” said Mr Thompson, a current PhD student.

“We will show them metal reactions in flames that produce coloured sparks, like those used in fireworks, and we also will demonstrate how iron oxide and aluminium can react to create molten iron ore at 2500 degrees.”

“The molten iron ore reaction is used to fuse railroad tracks together, so it’s a good demonstration of chemistry’s power and its application.”

Students will get hands on experience during the sessions as well, extracting copper metal from ore using acid and steel wool.

The Bunbury/Busselton visit is part of Murdoch University’s ongoing ‘Extracting Talent for Metallurgy’, which inspired students in Karratha, Mandurah and Duncraig in 2012.

The program hosted 500 students on Murdoch’s South Street Campus in June 2012 for a day of talks, demonstrations and experiments, and will repeat the program in 2013.

‘Extracting Talent for Metallurgy’ has been funded for $100,000 over five years by Rio Tinto with support from Murdoch University, which Mr Thompson sees as a sound investment for students and the nation.

“Minerals and energy are at the centre of Australian life, making up roughly 50 per cent of the nation’s export income. In order to keep the industry running effectively, we need to add 60 to 100 new extractive metallurgists each year,” Mr Thompson said.

“At the moment, Australian Universities are graduating about 50, so the math is pretty simple. We want students to see mineral extraction as an exciting, not to mention well compensated, career option.”

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