Activities for students and teachers
Our Faculty is passionate about educating the next generation. To assist teachers we offer interactive workshops or careers talks to high school students both on and off campus. These are related to general and agricultural science and economics including plant biology, environmental science and resource economics.
The Faculty can arrange a staff member to visit your school, or for the University experience, schools can visit us on campus. Workshops and talks are tailored to the syllabus and your specific needs, and are specifically designed for the high school audience.
A science and economics communicator can help teachers to bridge the syllabus with the incredibly diverse industry surrounding agriculture and the environment. Workshops are between 45 and 60mins of laughter, learning and discussion, wrapping up with a talk on study and job options in science or economics, with plenty of time for students to ask questions and be inspired for their future career.
All workshops below are customised depending on the number of activities, age of the students and school timetable. Relevant stage 6 syllabus topics are provided as a guide for senior high teachers.
Is Economics All About Money? (High School)
Economists study the allocation of scarce resources. Whilst economists do study how people choose to earn and spend their money, they also study how people interact with each other in managing scarce resources and the environment. This workshop includes:
- Economic Game Theory Should global produce trading corporations compete... or cooperate? Based on the Nash Equilibrium, this workshop models global sugar trading using strategic team thinking to trade lollies.
- Produce, Trade or Evade? This workshop investigates comparative advantage and sustainable production by spliting the group into countries which produce and trade under different conditions - including environmental degradation...
Stage 6 Syllabus Geography 8.3.3; Economics 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3; Business Studies 8.1, 9.5
Plant Power (high school)
Discover why plants are the power-houses of the planet!
- Climate Change: the Mass of a Gas What are the implications of Carbon Dioxide for our world? Students have a laughter-filled time recreating the recent TV ads which depict a balloon of CO2 rising from heaters and other fossil-fuel powered devices.
- Photosynthesis in Action This workshop explores photosynthesis by causing leaves to produce oxygen bubbles in the prescence of light - which they see with their own eyes.
- Have you eaten DNA today? There is so much DNA in living cells that it is possible to see without a microscope! In this workshop, students extract the DNA from a strawberry and discuss recent advances in plant biotechnology.
Stage 6 Syllabus Earth and Environmental Science 9.4.6; Geography 8.2.1; Stage 6 Syllabus Agriculture 9.1; Biology 8.2; 8.3; 9.3; 9.6; 9.7; 9.9; Chemistry 8.5.1, 9.9
The Chocolate Workshop (Primary or High School)
We all love chocolate, but do we really know where it comes from? This delicious food science workshop takes students on a sensory exploration of cocoa! Depending on the audience, the workshop can be adjusted to include elements of economics, social sciences and environmental science.
- The Chocolate Chain Taste for yourself the factors which influence the quality of chocolate, and learn about experimental design and analysis.
- Option 1 - Economic Game Theory Should global trading corporations compete... or cooperate? Based on the Nash Mathematical Equilibrium, this activity models global cocoa trading using strategic team thinking.
Option 2 - Soils to Society Soil quality has a big influence on plant productivity. Students are shown how to utilise the same soil field kit used by scientists when helping cocoa farmers increase their production.
Stage 6 Syllabus courses requiring experimental design and analysis, with content focused on Economics, Agriculture, Biology, Food Technology or Senior Science
Catch the Robber! (Primary or High School)
Trace the steps of a thief using forensic techniques. Workshop activites can be chosen from the following list:
- A Dirty Giveaway? This exciting, interactive activity tests soil physical and chemical properties which we can’t see with the naked eye and matches them to a crime scene sample.
- Make a pH indicator Investigates the acidity or alkalinity of common liquids, ending with a surprise mystery liquid. Students make their own brightly coloured pH indicator and are thrilled to see the colour change from bright purple to fluoro pink to ocean blue.
- Who wrote the note? Students are amazed to discover unseen variability within inks using chromatography, and use it to find the writer of a ransom note.
- Fingrprinting Everyone is unique. Oils produced by our bodies can reveal our fingerprints... and be used to catch a robber!
Stage 6 Syllabus Agriculture 8.3, 9.1; Biology 8.3, 9.2; Earth and Environmental Science 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 9.4; Chemistry 9.3; Senior Science 9.2
Contact: Jessica Morris
Phone: (02) 9114 0825
Minimum: 10 students
Cost: $7 per student
Location: Workshops can be brought into school classrooms, or for the University experience groups can visit us for a workshop in our modern laboratories on campus.
Senior students are filled with questions about tertiary study. What is university like? What should I do if I want a career as a ___? Is it like school?
Questions regarding study options in applied science or economics can be easily answered! Passionate and professional ex-students and science communicators are available to give short careers presentations in either formal or informal settings. There is no better way to answer student questions than by exposing them to people who have been in a similar situation.
Topics covered in careers talks include:
- Career options, including environmental consultancy, carbon trading, global commodity marketing, GIS mapping, soil science, ecology, minerals exports, global food security, futures trading, sustainable agriculture and environmental management and protection.
- The high number of (often unknown) scholarship opportunities
- ATARs, flexible course admission and the difference between university and school
- General course structure plus options to take cross-disciplinary subjects and international exchange
- How managing carbon, food and water in our natural systems will arguably determine Australia’s economic future.
Contact: Jessica Morris
Phone: (02) 9114 0825
Cost: Most career talks are free, and can be either part of a subject, assembly or casual lunchtime chat.
The University of Sydney has an excellent science outreach program directly for students. This includes opportunities for science camps, free and fascinating public lectures, plus a free quarterly newsletter with the latest in research aimed at high schoolers. For more information, see Science Alliance.
The modern facilities at the university are on display several times per year, and a tailored high schoolers program is a big part of the day. Student groups are given special worksheets to guide them around, and have exclusive access to certain areas and events.
Feedback from high school teachers who brought students to the Plant Breeding Institute Open Day 2010 included, “The talks given by the University staff members were excellent and we enjoyed the meet the scientists segment too,” and “A packed program is good, it keeps the students busy! Good moving from venue to venue.”
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and the Plant Breeding Institute also enthusiastically exhibit at Sydney University Open Day, Graduate GO Expo, and Sydney University Information Day. These annual University-wide events provide information on tertiary study options to prospective students. Please visit the Sydney University homepage for more information.
The Nicholson Museum is the largest antiquities museum in Australia with a collection of objects from Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, Italy and Europe. The museum is open to the public, in addition to functioning as a teaching collection for the Department of Archaeology. The museum has a full-time conservator who works with the objects and alongside archaeology students who are studying ancient materials, technologies and manufacturing processes.
Visits to the Nicholson Museum which focus on science in archaeology and involve a tour of the conservation laboratory can be organised.
The Macleay Museum is a museum of natural history, ethnography and the history of science. Its significant collections, based on the original donation in the 1880s by William John Macleay and later additions, are important for the purposes of historic research and teaching. The Museum offers programs for school visits which focus on various syllabus topics, including science (especially biology and scientific history), history and Aboriginal studies.
Contact: Dr Craig Barker
Phone: (02) 9036 5409 (enquiries) / (02) 9351 8746 (bookings)
Cost: General Admission - free
2 hour tour (including hands-on)
$13/student (including GST)
3 hour tour (including hands-on)
$16.50/student (including GST)
We desire to support teachers as much as possible in the great work they do educating the next generation. The Faculty participates in Careers Advisors and Teachers Day in February each year to inform teachers of our courses, plus runs a Science Teachers Workshop in the second half of the year for science teacher professional development.
Contact: Jessica Morris
Phone: (02) 9114 0825