University students lend their support

Published 29 May 2008

Students from Southern Cross University are mentoring Byron High School pupils to help them develop a lifelong interest in science.

The four-week project, which is designed and run by Bachelor of Environmental Science student, Xenia Schleuning, sees undergraduates and year 11 students meet once a week to get out of the classroom and conduct field studies in the local environment.

Ms Schleuning said that she had been inspired to encourage younger students to get enthused about science by the current skills shortages and environmental situation.

“The career choices made by the high school students of today will affect the future supply of workers qualified in the field of science, including teachers, which could have some serious consequences if current trends continue,” said Ms Schleuning.

“The aim of my project is to support these students and give them the chance to get more personalised learning time with younger role models as they study the environment and science.

“I hope that this will motivate them not only to think more carefully about how they treat the environment, but also to consider taking their science studies further.”

A team of five Southern Cross University undergraduates have been carrying out the project which includes interactive activities such as learning how native fauna is trapped and observed, identifying native wildlife and measuring humidity, soil pH and temperature to monitor the local environment.

“The activities give students the chance to learn first hand about the issues affecting their local area,” said Ms Schleuning.

“Students who are keen surfers for example, are able to learn about erosion and the human impact on their local beach, and discover what they can do to help.”

Course coordinator of Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Environmental Science Michael Whelan said that the course was mutually beneficial for both Southern Cross University and Byron High School students.

“The project is designed to fit in with a module of the year 11 curriculum on analysing local ecology,” said Mr Whelan.

“It also gives our students the chance to complete a science related project that makes a positive contribution while gaining some valuable leadership skills.

“We will certainly be looking for avenues to extend the program to more year 11 students in the future.”

Photo opportunity: Media are invited to attend as SCU and Byron High School students measure wind speed, soil temperature and pH and humidity at Tallows Beach, Byron Bay. Please note rescheduled date and time: Monday 2 June at 12.30pm. Meet in the car park of Byron Bay High School, Broken Head Road (parking near bus stop). Weather permitting: please contact before attending to confirm.

Media contact: Zuleika Henderson media officer, Southern Cross University Tweed Gold Coast campus: 07 5506 9385 or 0408 644533.