Examples of TSP Activities

Smart Ants

Watch this video of first year TSP students talking about their first year project, Smart Ants.


Several students examined quantum mechanical effects in high temperature superconductors. Superconductivity (conducting electricity with minimal resistance) has been known since the turn of the twentieth century, but involved materials which were effective only at about 4 K (-269 C). With the advent of high temperature superconductors (those that operate above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen 78 K, -195 C), their widespread commercial application becomes feasible. TSP students examined quantum effects in high temperature superconductors by manufacturing superconducting materials, measuring the resistance/temperature profiles of the superconductors under the influence of different magnetic field and comparing the behaviour with that they calculated, based on a model they developed of the basis of the superconductivity phenomenon.

Launching a Pumpkin

Some TSP students investigated the dynamics of launching a pumpkin as a projectile - in one piece. They developed a means of sending a pumpkin more than 1 km.

Starfish Mobility

TSP students collected starfish from several sites along the NSW coastline and examined the starfish by DNA fingerprinting. The object of the project was to determine the extent that different types of starfish would breed with other colonies of their type. The continuing project hopes to establish the mobility of various types of starfish in NSW waters.

What Banknote is That?

In a TSP project in Psychology, students designed and conducted experiments to determine how easily Australian banknotes could be distinguished from each other.

The Colour in Butterfly Wings

We all know about colour being determined by the colour of a particular substance, but colour can also be determined by the structure of a material. This structural colour is a mechanism by which animals, birds, insects and fish can change their colours for the purposes of attracting their own species or camouflage from other species.

The effect relates to the structure of a butterfly wing, which is made up of tiny scales which are like "tiles". Within the tiles different structures can be found, including layers and even arrays, which diffract light differently. TSP students in Physics studied this phenomenon.

Does the Right Slit Know What the Left Slit's Doing?

Some students investigated the phenomenon of double slit interference, examining whether interference will be observed if it is known which photon passes through which slit.

The Evolution of Reptiles

A project in Biological Sciences sought to establish whether evolutionary links could be determined by comparing the skulls of living reptiles with those of fossils.

When is a Jaguar not a Jaguar?

It can be very difficult interrogating a computerised data base using the English language as input. For example, a jaguar might be an animal or a car. This project examined the possibility of discriminating between potential ambiguities by generating a user profile based on previous queries.

Cottoning on to Disease Resistance

This project examined the genetic diversity of Australian cotton varieties in order to determine the amount of inbreeding in various varieties and to isolate those genes potentially responsible for disease resistance in cotton.

Why Don't Fish Freeze in the Antarctic?

This project looked for the possibility that fish in Antarctic waters contain an environmentally friendly, obviously effective, natural antifreeze.