Following is a recount of my first day at the ConocoPhillips Science Experience, which was held at Macquarie University from 15th – 17th January 2014.
After registering and playing a few initiation games we took a short walk to the state-of-the-art Macquarie University Hospital where we learnt about zebra fish and how they are being used for research in finding a cure for Motor Neuron Disease. We also looked at human heart rates and blood pressure, discussing how and why these change. We then visited a dummy that has a heartbeat along with the ability to breathe, cry, sweat and blink.
The second activity of the day focused on lasers. We used spectrometers to determine the wavelengths of light and used a laser machine that drew on the wall as we moved it. We had a lot of fun sending messages through light and I was surprised at how technical working with light can be.
After lunch, we then moved to our final activity of the day – robotics. Here we learnt how to program a robot. We were then challenged to a race; however, our robots were not allowed to move on wheels as was previously demonstrated. We were given only straight pieces of lego to construct wheels that would still enable our robot to move. This was very challenging.
For the rest of the afternoon we made our way around a science expo displaying some of the fascinating things that the scientists working at Macquarie University are researching. We spoke to the students and academics from a range of scientific fields and experimented with the many interactive activities they had prepared. These included; testing our balance, fingerprint sampling, experimenting with substances that dissolve and hide other substances, extracting strawberry DNA, challenging a frisbee throwing machine (shown in picture), watching chemicals react with oxygen and looking at things that were EXTREMELY magnified. I even discovered that the entire Man From Snowy River poem is written in the background of the $10 note.