More than 1,500 Year 12 students from 50 schools around the State are a step closer to success in the Higher School Certificate examinations after their visit to the University of New England this week.
They came with their teachers from as far away as Wellington in the central west of NSW, and from many other towns and cities – including Coonabarabran, Gulgong, Nimbin, Scone, Grafton, Port Macquarie and Kempsey – to take part in UNE’s annual “booster” and study days.
The HSC Booster Days in the Sciences have been growing in popularity with students and teachers because of their focus on the HSC curriculum and their use of technical equipment unavailable in most schools. This year the science booster days – from Monday 4 June to Wednesday 6 June – saw a big increase in numbers, with about 1,250 students engaging in experiments related to their studies in agriculture, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, mathematics and physics.
Lucinda Logan from Duval High School in Armidale said she had gained “a lot of help” with practical aspects of the biology curriculum. “It’s given me a break from all the theory work,” she said, “and, in addition, I’ve gained a really good experience of a university laboratory.”
Eliza Biggs (pictured here) from Camden Haven High School said that her session on genetics had given her “a good overall understanding”. “And it was good to be able to see a genetic blueprint under ultraviolet light,” she said.
“They got a lot out of it,” said Sherelle Moore, a physics teacher who accompanied her students from Coonabarabran High School. “At school, we’ve just finished a part of the curriculum dealing with the development of the cathode ray tube, and they saw it all working in the laboratory here.”
One of the activities involved teams of chemistry students from different schools competing in the NSW Schools Titration Competition organised by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. The competition challenges students to determine the concentration of a weak acid.
The coordinator of the booster days, Amy Cosby from UNE’s School of Environmental and Rural Science, said that the three-day event had included free accommodation and meals for those needing to stay in Armidale.
On another part of the campus, about 300 students attended lectures on aspects of their Business Studies, Economics, and Legal Studies courses. Hosted by UNE’s School of Law and School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, the event on Monday 4 June brought to Armidale speakers with expert knowledge of the syllabus in each of these subjects. They included John Andrews, President of the Legal Studies Teachers’ Association of NSW, Mohan Dhall, teacher, lecturer and Director of the PLC Sydney Extension Centre, and Lyn Kirkby, the immediate past president of Economics and Business Educators NSW.
“This year’s Study Day was particularly valuable for both students and teachers, who said how grateful they were to have been led through the new Business Studies syllabus,” Mr Dhall said. “In arranging for students to come from as far away as Narrabri and Coonabarabran, UNE makes a significant contribution to the whole region. And the students have gone away with the knowledge that they’re being taught well in their schools – and no differently from their counterparts in Sydney.”