Science sounds at the Port Augusta School of the Air

Most tours for the Science Circus are a little bit crazy and the second tour of 2012 was no exception. This tour saw the team travelling through regional South Australia with SciWorld, performing at Science Alive! in Adelaide, one of Australia's biggest Science Festivals, and visiting schools and towns through the Kimberley in Western Australia. This story comes from our visit to Port Augusta, South Australia, where we had the chance to reach students over hundreds of kilometres through Port Augusta School of the Air.

The best part of being in The Shell Questacon Science Circus is being able to meet students face-to-face and see their expressions as we explode things and share our enthusiasm for science. We travel to some very remote locations, but there are still some students that are so remote we simply cannot visit them in person. Fortunately, Carly and I had the opportunity to visit the Port Augusta School of the Air to reach these children and hear their voices through digital technology.

The classroom consisted of a large desk with a microphone and a computer screen projected on the wall. School assembly began at 8:30am and the names of the students appear as they login to begin their school day. We were in Port Augusta with students logging in from hundreds of kilometres away - for some it's a nine-hour drive to get into town!

In this class when the teacher asks a question, the students can reply with a big green tick for 'yes', a red cross for 'no' or they can use a symbol of a hand to ask their own question. Students can even show a "smiley face" or digitally "applaud" when they're really enjoying the lesson. The teacher directs the session and dictates which child can enable their microphone to speak—there is no talking over each other in this classroom!

By 9 am we were ready to start our science session with the students from reception to year 3. Quite appropriately, our science show was all about sound. We explored vibrations and helped the students make their own musical instruments including a balloon-a-phone, a glass xylophone and clucking cups. It was hilarious hearing the sounds the students were making with their strange new instruments, all the way out on their remote properties!

A highlight of our show was when we asked for questions at the end and each child wanted to individually thank us for visiting their school that day. It was one of the many great new experiences I've had this year. Thank you to Port Augusta School of the Air for the opportunity to meet your dedicated students.