SASTA will be looking to add ideas, tips and resource articles to this blog for all teachers involved in The Oliphant Science Awards!

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Tips, ideas and resources

Bushfire Safety Tips for your Poster entry

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 11/06/2021

by Chris Sedunary and Belinda Dunbar, CFS

Chris and Belinda from the CFS have put together some helpful hints for students making a 2021 poster entry about bushfire safety.

You and your family's safety and survival during a bushfire can depend on how prepared you are, and the decisions you make. You can find out a lot of information on how you can reduce the impact of bushfires and increase your safety at

There are several actions you can take to ensure you can be as safe as possible before, during and after a bushfire or emergency.

Bushfire Planning and knowing bushfire behaviour

Every year there are 756 bushfires on average throughout South Australia. About 67% are in the most densely populated areas like the Mount Lofty Ranges.

One of the most important things to do before summer starts is to plan what you will do as a family and at your home. This includes preparation before, during and after a bushfire. There is a lot of science involved in bushfires. This includes knowing key influences for bushfire such as fuel loads and ambient temperatures, and activities which can start fires. By considering these aspects when planning and working out how to reduce your bushfire risk, you are helping to keep yourself and your family a lot safer.

Emergency Warnings and Messages

One of the most important parts of any disaster is getting the right information out to people quickly to help them make decisions about their own safety. Because fires can be fast moving and dangerous it is important that warnings are very clear and written in such a way that people can understand them so that they take the right action. A scientific approach and understanding of Psychology has been used to research how people read and understand warning messages in dangerous situations and this informs how the messages are structured.

Bushfire Safer Places

The CFS designates areas called Bushfire Safer Places which are areas that have been deemed to provide some level of protection from the heat and flames of a bushfire. These are the safest places to be during a bushfire. The way these areas are determined is by measuring how much vegetation is in an area and doing a calculation of how hot a fire would be if that vegetation burned. Using physics and an understanding of heat transfer, heat radiation, and energy we can work out how far away you would need to be from the vegetation to not burn from the heat radiation.

Hopefully these three examples point out some links that you may not have thought of and help you see other ways in which science helps us make decisions in the real world and keep people safer!

We are proud to have The SA Country Fire Service and Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience as our Poster Category sponsor this year!

You can view all the 2020 Poster winning entries here.

A Short Guide on how to Create a Scientific Inquiry Project

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 04/06/2021

by Raihanah Pranggono, 2020 Oliphant Trophy Winner Based on my own experience, the following steps might help you in the development of your very own Scientific Inquiry! Choose a research domain that is appealing to you: To do this, you can derive some bright ideas from a pastime that you...

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2004 Oliphant Science Awards Trophy Winner - Alyssa Fitzpatrick

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 11/05/2021

by Alyssa Fitzpatrick The five test tubes sat in the corner of the lab benches, each containing different brightly coloured liquids. As the Year 10 students rushed into class, chattering amongst themselves after lunch, they were directed to each of the test tubes, and asked to smell them. Which was...

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Premier's Reading Challenge

Posted by SASTA

on 03/05/2021

SASTA and the Oliphant Science Awards are proud to be partnering with Inspiring SA and the Premiers Reading Challenge (PRC) to support this year’s STEM Reading and Design Challenge. The challenge encourages students to read about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in the lead up to Science Week. The...

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Photography from a judge's perspective

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 15/04/2021

by Elizabeth Anderson, Mitcham Girls High School Over the years of involvement with the Photography section of the Oliphant Science Awards I have been lucky enough to have judged work from Years 2 through 12 and to have supported our own students produce some outstanding work.  It’s amazing the quality...

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1995 Oliphant Science Awards Trophy Winner - Kyra Reznikov

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 05/04/2021

by Kyra Reznikov BE(Chem)(1st class Hons) LLB(with Hons) I have always liked solving puzzles and been curious about the world around me. I think that’s why I enjoy science, and it’s certainly why I love my job so much. Today I’m an environmental lawyer, and I wouldn’t be where I...

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How to win in the Games category from a Judge's perspective

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 25/03/2021

by Dagmar Preusker The Oliphant Science Awards attract a very high standard of entries as well as a large number from right across South Australia, this means that unfortunately there isn’t the time to play every game and check them all for scientific content so a process of shortlisting occurs...

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The Australian Biochemist Magazine

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 23/03/2021

The magazine of the ASBMB, the Australian Biochemist, keeps members up-to-date with relevant scientific and personal news in Australia and abroad. Each magazine has a dedicated Education Feature that discusses new ideas and methods for teaching and assessment. The ASBMB even has a Biochemical Educators special interest group; just register...

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Memories from the Oliphant Science Awards

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 12/03/2021

Short stories from years gone by...   Dr Matthew Sorell Senior Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, The University of Adelaide I built a speech synthesiser in 1985 (possibly 1986) which won in whichever category it was in. Back then, speech synthesis was quite primitive and I was using a...

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Programming, Apps & Robotics from a Judge's perspective

Posted by Oliphant Science Awards

on 11/03/2021

by Glen Hutson Do you know what makes the Programming, Apps & Robotics category different to all the rest? It’s the interview! Most years I meet with students as they demonstrate and explain their creations. The Oliphant rules ask that you come and show us how it works and often...

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