Competition to increase interest in science

Tuesday, 27 February, 2007

Prompted by concern over an apparent decline of interest in science and technology as careers, Australia's national laboratory accreditation body, the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) is offering a science prize specifically targeted at senior primary grades in Australian schools.

The competition is offering a total of $10,000 in science equipment to the winning schools. First prize is science equipment worth $6000 and second prize is science equipment worth $4000.

Coinciding with NATA's 60th anniversary, the association's initiative is aimed at encouraging children to consider the sciences and their impact on people's daily lives.

Announcing the competition this week, NATA CEO Tony Russell said NATA members were increasingly concerned about the low value placed on science by the general community.

"Our work is crucial to maintaining Australia's technical infrastructure, yet our accredited laboratories tell us it is becoming more and more difficult to find young people with excellent technical credentials. They are becoming concerned for the future," Russell said.

The competition, open to all years five and six classes in Australia, is to design an experiment which highlights some of the issues involved in measuring an observed phenomenon.

"The prize winners will obviously benefit enormously from the competition, but then so too, we believe, will every school that participates. We have consulted closely with the NSW Department of Education to ensure as far as possible that the competition can be undertaken by a class as part of the core curriculum," Russell said.

"By offering such a meaningful prize in such a way that small and remote schools are not disadvantaged, we hope we can encourage some of these children to eventually think about science as a career option. As a nation, I think it is vitally important we do all we can to encourage the sciences in education."

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