News

Sydney University brings hands-on biology to Tocal


19 May 2008

What sort of bear has eight legs, measures 1mm long, and can survive temperatures from minus 200 to 200 degrees celcius? You'll have to come to Tocal Field Days to find out.

Carla Avolio, Science Communicator in the School of Biological Sciences, shows off the world's largest species of cockroach at the Tocal Field Days.
Carla Avolio, Science Communicator in the School of Biological Sciences, shows off the world's largest species of cockroach at the Tocal Field Days.

The University of Sydney will be running biology workshops as part of Science in the Bush at Tocal and an exhibition stand and public talks at the Tocal Field Days from Friday 2 May until Sunday 4 May.

Monsters Beneath Our Feet workshops, running on Friday 2 May, allow students to come face-to-face with mini monsters fascinating terrestrial invertebrates such as insects and spiders by finding them in soil samples and looking at them under microscopes. Students are then helped to identify what species they've found and build a food web to see who eats who.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology, from the University of Sydney, will be running its popular Plant Powerstation workshops for local high school students on Friday 2 May.

These workshops are part of the Science in the Bush at Tocal event run by the Australian Museum and the University of Sydney. The Science in the Bush program has been running since 2002 and provides students with the opportunity to attend talks, shows, workshops and activities in their local region.

Science in the Bush is supported by the Australian Government through the Science Connections Programme administered by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

Renee Simms, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, entertains a crowd of school children with a DNA extraction from strawberries activity.
Renee Simms, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, entertains a crowd of school children with a DNA extraction from strawberries activity.

As part of the Tocal Field Days, the University of Sydney will also be running activities for the general public in the Land Management Pavilion. At 1pm on Saturday 3 May, a public talk on Plant Energy Biology will be presented in Crawford Court, and at 12pm on Saturday 3 May and Sunday 4 May, a public talk called 'Does anything eat cane toads? Questions from Nature answered by Biologists at The University of Sydney' will be presented also in Crawford Court.

Dr Carina Moeller, from the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, shows crop plants germinating under the microscope.
Dr Carina Moeller, from the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, shows crop plants germinating under the microscope.

"We'll have some amazing live animals that the public can hold at our exhibition stand, such as Australia's longest insect the Titan stick insect and the heaviest species of cockroach in the world the Australian giant burrowing cockroach," said Carla Avolio, Science Communicator for the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney.

"Taking a closer look at the biology around us is fascinating and important, so we invite everyone at Tocal Field Days to come over to our stand and take a closer look under the microscope at a range of fascinating life forms," said Carla.

Renee Simms and Katynna Gill, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, run a popular DNA extraction from strawberries activity.
Renee Simms and Katynna Gill, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, run a popular DNA extraction from strawberries activity.

"Enthusing students and the general public about plant science has never been more important," said Katynna Gill, Science Communication and Education Officer for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology, at the University of Sydney. "Plant science is vital and informs Australia's $60 billion plant industry, including plant-based agriculture and plant products."

"The activities are fun and students get to use equipment they wouldn't necessarily have access to in school," said Katynna. "It's a great opportunity to also ask questions about studying science at university and get some insight into what it's really like."

For media interviews or to organise photographing activities please contact:

Katynna Gill, Science Communication and Education Officer, University of Sydney

Phone: (02) 9351 6997

Mobile: 0434 983 679

Email: katynna.gill@usyd.edu.au


Contact: Dr Sophie Lieberman

Phone: 0408 299 777