GUNGHALIN College students Michael Cherryh and Jake Coppinger have achieved top scores against 45,000 others in an international science competition.
The year 10 students participated in the Rio Tinto Big Science competition in May, and have since been awarded top scores.The competition pitted Michael and Jake against 45,500 students across 580 schools in Australia, NZ, Singapore and other Asian regions. The hour-long examination tested their knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences, as well as experimentation skills and methods. For achieving highly, the pair won a subscription to science magazine, “Cosmos”.
“I’ve never done really well in any competition,” says Jake.
“It’s a great feeling that somebody thinks I’m good at what I’m interested in. It’s interesting, being congratulated for something you never thought you were talented at, but I’ve always enjoyed it, so it’s really rewarding.”
The students were required to participate in the competition as part of their place in the school’s science honours program, known as Science, Mathematics and Related Technologies (SMART).
“It’s a science and maths program, so basically we do science and maths through the year 10 curriculum, but we’re in a college environment,” says Michael.
Acting associate principal Sue O’Connor says that the SMART program allows year 10 students to start their year 11 and 12 studies while they’re still finishing off their year 10 studies.
“It’s giving top students a chance to extend themselves,” says Sue.
When Jake isn’t practising the violin, another of his hobbies, he says that he enjoys reading physics books. He says that he has a keen interest in electronics, programming and mechatronics, while Michael enjoys physics and chemistry.
The pair has found that they have both enjoyed the sciences from a young age.
“I’ve always loved reading about physics and electronics since I was very young, but when I was that little I didn’t really know it was physics. I’ve always been interested in how the world works,” says Jake.
With sights set high for post-school studying, Michael is hoping to start a degree in engineering at the ANU, while Jake is looking to expand his passion for information technology and mechatronics.
Words: Andrew Nardi