Tuesday, 9 April 2013

No institution exists alone and the Centenary is a great opportunity for UWA to acknowledge the part in its history played by the people of Western Australia, near and far.

UWA Gives Back is a regional celebration of the Centenary with staff and students going out into the regions throughout the year, engaging with school students, local communities and industries.

They will explain research happening at UWA and how it can benefit the people of WA; they will enthuse high school students about tertiary study and encourage them to come to UWA; they will become involved in local projects including agriculture, urban planning, arts productions and teaching programs.

All the faculties and the Student Guild are taking part, covering every part of the state from the Goldfields to the Kimberley.

The first forays were by the Faculty of Science (Life and Physical Sciences) to the Mid-West in late March and the Guild Volunteering Hub to the South-West in early April.

Astrofest inspired the locals of Mt Magnet on 22 March with an inflatable planetarium, night sky tours, glow-in-the-dark water rockets, an astrophotography exhibition and, of course, lots of telescopes of all shapes and sizes.

The Mid-West is becoming a global hub for astronomy with part of the Square Kilometre Array being built there and several new radio telescopes coming online in the Murchison.

In a two-week tour of Carnamah, Morawa, Meekatharra, Mt Magnet, Kalbarri and Jurien, staff from the UWA-based International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Aspire UWA, SPICE and Scitech worked on connecting communities with the night sky and switching school students on to science.

With the School of Indigenous Studies, they talked to students about the opportunities created by the SKA and, more generally, a university education and the pathways that exist to help students from regional areas to get there.

ICRAR's Manager of Outreach, Pete Wheeler said it was a great tour.

"We leave behind people who know more about their night skies and the radio astronomy happening right on their doorstep," Mr Wheeler said.

"Maybe one of the students we worked with will go on to study science and make an important discovery."

The first of at least three regional visits by the Student Guild this year took student volunteers to the Tone-Perup Natures Reserve near Manjimup.

Aden Date co-ordinates the Guild Volunteering Hub and said that students go on a volunteering road trip every year, usually to do conservation work.

"They pay their own way and we go during the semester breaks," he said. "This month we worked on a Woylie conservation project, helping the Warren Catchment's Council to gather research data on the Woylie population in the region."

Aden said the student were looking forward to going to Albany later in the year, to connect with UWA students at the Great Southern campus and work with them on a project with the Albany-based Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management.

Perhaps the most practical and exciting project in the UWA Gives Back program comes from the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts .

Their staff will work with the local community and schools in Geraldton to apply urban design principles and techniques to the regeneration and identity of the Mid-West town as it undergoes significant growth.

Together they will develop ideas and images which will be projected onto a building, accompanied by a soundtrack and hopefully simulcast on local radio.

The ALVA residency will take place in August and September with the post-production in October and the final event in November.

Staff and students from the Faculty of Science (Natural and Agricultural Sciences) have chosen three towns surrounding UWA's future farm: Pingelly, Brookton and Narrogin. They will run activities and research projects with the communities from now until October.

They will also visit every school in this part of the wheatbelt and provide the students with digital microscopes and kits for a Monitoring Soil Science program.

During the second and third school terms, the Faculty of Law will focus on shires in the Peel region: Boddington, Serpentine, Jarrahdale, Waroona and the city of Mandurah. Students and staff will organise, coach and run mock trials to increase interest in studying law at UWA.

Interested high school students can begin networking with UWA mentors and even those not disposed to studying law can learn valuable leadership, critical thinking and public speaking skills.

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences already has a very strong presence in the regions through the Rural Clinical School. Its staff and students will concentrate on the Goldfields, running a mini medical school and demonstrating how Telehealth video conferencing technology works.

In October in Kalgoorlie and Esperance they will run a Choose Medicine program for high school students with clinical simulations and hands-on plastering and suturing workshops.

The Business School plans to take high-achieving Honours and PhD students from the Pilbara back to their region to engage with high school students in Karratha and Port Hedland.

The School's teaching, research and executive education will be showcased to the communities in the two towns while the students will share their UWA experiences with the school students, telling them about student clubs, activities and sports, as well as scholarships and student exchange programs.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Alec Cameron will join this trip and resident mining companies BHP Billiton and Woodside will co-host a Leaders' Luncheon for business and community leaders.

The Faculty of Education has a long-standing relationship with the wheatbelt town of Morawa.  For more than 10 years, students in its Graduate Diploma program have been experiencing teaching and living there.

This year, in August and September, the faculty will support students from its Masters programs (Primary, Secondary and Early Childhood) to work with schools in the Morawa area.

The Morawa Education Alliance works to develop the best educational services and further educational opportunities for its young people and the faculty will extend its engagement with the region by supporting the Alliance.

Staff, alumni and senior students from the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics will take a road show to the Kimberley during July.

They will engage with schools, community, alumni and industry in Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Wyndham, Kununurra and Broome, demonstrating the impact on our lives of engineering, computing and mathematics.

The REV car, Engineers without Borders and Robogals will feature in the road show.

The Faculty of Arts will also travel to the Kimberley a few months later. Staff are already developing a project in partnership with Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre to share cultural knowledge.

The three-part project began with Junba performances at LUMINOUSnight.  A short film and an ebook will also be produced during the year. And Arts staff and students will work with Aspire UWA in high schools in Derby and Broome in October.

UWAnews will bring you images from some of these projects later in the year.

Published in UWA News , April 2013


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