Two Western Australian secondary high school students have won Gold at the 39th Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition.
Held from March 23 to 26 at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, students Violette Otto (Karratha Senior High School) and Shona Kiely (St. Mary MacKillop College, Busselton) took home 2 of the 5 gold medals available in their category.
Violette and Shona were chosen to represent Western Australia in the category of Environmental Science and Engineering, through the annual Scitech and Rio Tinto partnership program, Beijing Bound.
This year’s competition theme was Discovery, Innovation and Responsibility and projects were presented to a panel of judges and over 300 international students and scientists.
Violette Otto’s project focused on an issue close to her school – “exploring the effects of methane on global warming and identifying the largest local (Karratha) livestock contributor”, while Shona Kiely presented on the “effects of Phytophthora Dieback on Banksia Shrubs”.
“It broadened my ideas of what STEM is and how many things can be researched,” Ms Kiely said. “I found a career in this field can help people and the world.”
Scitech’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kalien Selby, says the program helps bridge education and industry for students, helping them understand what a STEM career involves.
“Beijing Bound is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Western Australian students to present their ideas, research and capabilities on an international stage,” Ms Selby said. “It encourages an innovative approach to traditional education that inspires and informs with extremely positive results.”
Beijing Bound pairs selected secondary students with Rio Tinto mentors, to undertake a research project in their local area.
Students develop and carry out a scientific research plan over five months, writing a literature review and report, before delivering a scientific presentation at a science fair-style event.
The program has been running in the Pilbara since 2006, and was introduced to Busselton secondary students for the first time in 2018.
In 2019, 196 projects were selected from over 1000 submissions to compete in the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition.
157 were from Beijing, and 39 were from international delegations.