Science News

In assembly on Friday 13 October, a large number of students were recognised for their excellence in various Science endeavours. Here is a summary of their achievements.

ICAS Science

The Tintern Grammar ICAS Science results were again very strong. High Distinction (top 1% of students in Victoria) and Distinction (next 10% of students in Victoria) certificates were presented to the following students. In addition, a Tintern Grammar Science medallion was presented to the student with the top score in each year level.

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

High Distinction High Distinction  Distinction High Distinction and medallion
Abigail Chai (medallion) Oliver Huang (medallion) Ashleigh Dowling (medallion) Reilly Collins
Olivia Dowling Distinction Jac Bellfinch Oscar De Jong
Patrick Reid Matthew Cobb Hannah Taylor Distinction
Distinction Joshua Choong   Daniel Boss
Will Butterfield Emily Dodds   Ron Chen
Colin Ming Alexander Higgins   Sean Chisholm
Zakariya Mohammed Marisa Hutchinson   Molly Fleming
Nicholas Touliatos Zoe Liew   James Harvey
Amber Wild Connor Nancarrow   Jameson Wong
Abbey Winter     Mitchell Wooller
Ben Winter      

RACI National Titration Competition

Year 12 students Brittany Read, Karly Rosenbrock and Sabrina Wang recently competed in the RACI National Titration Competition finals. They spent more than 3 hours of their precious time at school performing a titrimetric analysis of a mixture of a base and an insoluble unknown material with terrific results. Karly and Brittany gained a silver badge/medal and Sabrina won a gold badge, although the girls tell me that it was very much a team effort.

The Year 12 IB Chemistry students also entered the RACI National Chemistry Quiz this year. Their results were excellent. Brittany Read gained a High Distinction, while Ada Chen, Josephine Owen and Sabrina Wang gained a Distinction.

Science Talent Search

About 20 students entered the Science Talent Search this year. Many of these were Year 12 IB students who entered their Physics, Chemistry or Biology Independent Investigation and some Year 7 and 8 students also entered this very popular Victorian schools competition. We had great success in the Open Experimental Investigation section.

Major Bursaries ($300) were won by Cassie Dods and Josephine Owen.

Minor Bursaries ($200) were won by Ada Chen, Emily McLean, Ben Schneider and Alison Yang.

These students attended the STS presentation day at La Trobe University to collect their medals and cheques.

Photo: Emily Mclean, Ben Schneider, Josephine Owen, Ada Chen, Cassie Dods, Alison Yang and Mrs Lanna Derry with Associate Professor Tony Papenfuss from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, who presented the students with their awards.

The investigations that our Science Talent Search winners undertook had formed part of their IB Science studies this year. Their topics were far ranging and quite engrossing. Here is a summary of each of the prize-winning experimental investigations.

Major Bursary winners

Cassie Dods – How effective are the gluteguard and glutenease dietary enzyme tablets in digesting gluten peptides.

Cassie was interested in testing the effectiveness of these two commercially available products in a simulation of the human digestive system. She worked at The University of Melbourne with supervision and determined the amount of gluten present after digestion with and without these tablets. Her interest in this topic was based on personal experience of gluten intolerance.

Josephine Owen – An investigation of the catalytic effect of some substances on luminol.

Josephine worked in her father’s laboratory and completed some very complex work. She synthesized her own sample of the chemical, luminol, which produces light when it reacts. Luminol is used in forensic analysis of crime scenes to detect the presence of blood. The iron in the blood is what reacts with the luminol, so Josephine was keen to determine whether other metals, and other chemicals that might be used to try to remove a blood stain might produce a reaction with the luminol. She tested a wide range of substances and concluded that while other substances did react with the luminol, the blood reaction was easily distinguished from these reactions.

 Minor Bursary winners

Ada Chen – The effect of an oil-in-water emulsion of vitamins E and C on the lipid peroxidation reaction.

Ada was interested in antioxidants and their ability to prevent oxidation reactions. She chose vitamin C, which is soluble in water, and vitamin E, which is soluble in oil, as her antioxidants, then made an emulsion of the two solutions. She tested the ability of the emulsion to prevent oxidation of some sunflower oil and compared it to the same reaction with an individual vitamin C solution, vitamin E solution and a mixed vitamin C and E solution. Contrary to her expectations, Ada found that the emulsion was less effective than the simple mixture of vitamin C and E. Her conclusion was that the emulsifying agent, lecithin, interfered with the reaction.

Emily Mclean – The effect of changing the percentage of ethanol in the extraction mixture on a cabbage indicator.

Emily used different concentrations of ethanol solution to extract juice from red cabbages. This juice is traditionally used in Year 9 chemistry experiments as it changes colour according to the pH of a solution. Emily then used the cabbage juice to titrate sodium carbonate and find the previously unknown concentration of a hydrochloric acid solution. She compared these experimental values to ones that she had calculated using a common indicator, methyl orange. Emily found that the higher the concentration of ethanol in the solution she used to extract the juice from the red cabbage, the more effective it was as an indicator of pH (measured against the accepted values generated using methyl orange). A 70% ethanol solution was found to produce the most effective red cabbage juice indicator.

Ben Schneider – The networked foraging movement of Physarum Polycephalum.

This project involved biomimicry, an emerging area of Science, using nature to solve human engineering and design problems. Ben investigated the activity of a slime mould, Physarum Polycephalum, in a laboratory over several weeks to plan the most efficient route for an electricity network in rural Tanzania and applied algorithms to analyse the resilience, cost and effectiveness of the networks. He used oat flakes to represent towns and salt solution to represent impassable landforms. The mould travelled over the agar gel between oat flakes, avoiding the salt and thus mapping the most efficient pathways for the electricity infrastructure.

Alison Yang – How do charcoal tablets affect the amount of Ibuprofen?

Alison was interested in methods of decreasing overdose of ibuprofen (in nurofen tablets) using activated charcoal. Activated charcoal’s complex structure, created from carbon in the reactions of Chemical Activation and High Temperature Steam Activation, makes it highly porous and adsorptive, which enables the charcoal to adsorb the ibuprofen in nurofen. It was found, through acid-base titration, that there was a correlation between the two variables: larger quantities of activated charcoal resulted in a greater mass of ibuprofen adsorbed.

All in all, we have had a most successful year of entries in various science competitions, demonstrating the depth of talent in our students at Tintern Grammar.

by Lanna Derry, Head of Science



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