PHOTOS: Future leaders grow biggest sector through science
BUNDABERG students are immersing themselves in the world of agriculture this week and creating innovative solutions to problems faced by the local farming community, as part of CQUniversity’s Science Experience program.
After submitting expressions of interest and applying, 26 students from numerous local high schools were selected to participate in the three-day program at Bundaberg’s CQUniversity campus.
Professor of agricultural management Phil Brown said the program would allow students to immerse themselves in the world of agriculture, visiting nearby farms and conducting practical science exercises in the laboratory.
“The students have been out this morning for a visit to the Bundaberg Brewed Drinks farm, where they looked at ginger production, but also had some discussion about stevia which is an artificial sweetener,” Professor Brown said.
“But we also want to incorporate science and link back to what happens in the lab as well as on the farm, so we’re doing a series of practical exercises on soft drinks too.”
As part of the day one activities and using a spectrophotometer, students deciphered which dyes are used in a variety of soft drinks, looked at different types of sweeteners and worked with local agriculture products like ginger and sugarcane.
Professor Brown said the program showcased the local opportunities and encouraged kids to stay in Bundaberg and use these skills to help grow the region’s industries.
“A survey was done recently by the deans of agriculture showing for every graduate in agriculture there’s about four jobs, so our agriculture industry is doing well and expanding and there are a lot of opportunities in that sector,” he said.
“Similarly with science, in a region like Bundaberg a lot of the industries are quite science based and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is a great example of that – understanding of how to produce the product in the quality control unit.”
Learning about engineering, hydroponics and protected cropping, students will also visit Sweet Potatoes Australia and participate in makerspace activities until the program concludes on Thursday.
CQUniversity Bundaberg’s associate vice-president Luke Sinclair said the campus designed this year’s program to focus on agriculture as it was one of the most important industries in the region.
“Bundaberg is one of the largest food producing regions in Australia and industry is increasingly looking at smart solutions backed by science, engineering and technology,” Mr Sinclair said.
“(It) has been specifically designed to not just immerse the students in agricultural technology and innovation but to also showcase possible future careers in this space”.
The program will conclude when students apply the knowledge they have gained to develop innovative strategies to help solve real-life issues experienced by farmers.
Students will then present these solutions to a panel of local leaders of the agriculture industry, which will be judged.