Once-in-a-lifetime event helps make science fun for students

By Erica Timms

Surveyors and teachers are using the Transit of Venus as the perfect excuse to get children involved in the practical side of maths and science.

The Surveying and Spatial Science Industry (SSSI) and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) collaborated to encourage students to take part in the Transit of Venus on June 6, 2012.

SSSI had been donating solar scopes to schools who won a competition where they had to guess the day the eclipse would happen at their location.

Meridan State College is one of the schools who won and were given a solar scope by local surveyor, Warwick Settree.

A science teacher from Meridan State College, Kasey West, said it was a real encouragement for the students.

“Astronomy is an ever-increasing and interesting area of study,” she said.

“It involves a lot of mathematics and physics, and anything that encourages students to learn more about these areas, I feel is awesome.”

One of the members of the Queensland Transit of Venus committee, Tim Pumpa, said that the reasoning behind this project was to help children master traditionally difficult subjects.

“This is all about encouraging kids to improve their understanding of maths and science in a practical way,” Mr Pumpa said.

ASTA CEO Peter Russo said that math and science are challenging subjects to children, and any encouragement was good for them.

“There is a perception that these subjects are ‘hard’ and therefore to be avoided,” he said.

“Also, pressures on teachers to get through the content often makes it difficult to spend time on a topic to make it more interesting and engaging for students.”

“We need to do more to engage students in science which is one of the more fascinating areas of the curriculum as things in our world are changing all the time.”

While it may seem unusual for a surveying group to get involved in an astronomical event, this event is hoped to encourage more interest in the surveying industry.

Meridan State College science teacher, Kasey West, said she would be telling her students about career opportunities in surveying on the day.

“I will be using this day to talk to many students about the career opportunities that they can pursue related to astronomy, particularly surveying,” Ms West said.

The Transit of Venus happens in pairs every 105 years. The first of this pair was in 2004, and the second in June this year.

It was the last opportunity to see it until 2117.

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