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Inflating an interest in science for rural students

Lauren Waldhuter, Thursday June 26, 2014 - 09:45 EST
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Students from Burra Community School gather to watch the launch of the weather balloon. - ABC

South Australian schools are taking a novel approach to getting kids interested in science.

Ten schools in the state's Yorke and Mid North region got together in Burra to launch a weather balloon.

The project is the first of its kind and was run in partnership with the University of South Australia, the Department of Education and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

"It's pretty easy for kids who spend a lot of their time with textbooks to think that science as an abstract concept," says Aaron Warn from the Department of Education.

"But you don't study science to be a scientist anymore, you study it to be an electrician, or anything."

A team of 41 students helped inflate the balloon and prepare the 4.5 kilograms worth of tracking equipment launched with it.

They were also in charge of monitoring its progress once airborne, and locating the balloon once it burst.

Ben from Minlaton District School, says it was a great day to be involved in, but living in the country means these opportunities are few and far between.

"You take them when you can really," he says.

"I've always been interested in a job in science and engineering and that's why I've come along."

Burra Community School's senior science teacher Michelle Pullan, says the project is dream come true for educators.

She says it also helps make university a less daunting prospect for rural students.

"The universities coming out here, for them, it takes away that mystifying factor," Mrs Pullan says.

"It makes for a lot of them a 'would be nice' option, into something concrete they can aim for."


© ABC 2014

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