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Stage 3 STEM Spectacular: Science investigations and bushfire-proof houses

STEM Spectacular Stage 3 article

On Tuesday 22 November 2016, Years 5 and 6 students presented their bushfire-proof houses and science investigations at the Stage 3 STEM Spectacular. 

Year 6 girls investigated which foods mould quickly, assessed which brand of nail polish dried the fastest, and looked at liquids that congeal. Some had made correct hypotheses, some realised that their controls threw out the project, and some experiment results came as a complete surprise!

Essie and Zoe of Year 6 investigated how cost-effective bath bombs are. “We chose bath bombs because we thought it would be interesting to find out which brand is the best, so we can tell people which bath bomb to buy,” Essie explained. Their controls were water temperature – they used both hot and cold water – and chose three bath bombs that each weighed 200g. 

Essie enjoyed learning about chemical reactions - and asserted that the Lush bath bomb came out on top as the most cost-effective. “I think it’s good to do projects like this because it widens your capacity in Science,” Zoe said. 

Year 5 donned their architecture hats to design and prototype bushfire-proof houses for Science and Geography. They presented their models to the Junior School on Tuesday, which were complete with concrete walls, sprinklers on roofs and windows made of toughened glass.

The girls had been learning about bushfires, looking specifically at the devastation of the Black Saturday and Ash Wednesday bushfires. They examined different materials that would best suit Australia’s bushfire prone environment.

“Since wood is very flammable, we learnt you can put a chemical called Flame-Stop on it,” Lily said. “We learnt you can use concrete slabs because concrete is fire-resistant and so is iron. There are also fire resistant plants.” 

Fuel, oxygen and fire are the three ingredients for a bushfire, Siena explained. “A bushfire can occur when there is fuel, dry, plants and vegetation.” Maddy added that bushfires travel at double-speed up hills. 

When it came to their own houses, the girls each thought of how best to protect their residents. “You must have a fire extinguisher in every room,” Olivia said. Siena built her house of concrete “because concrete doesn’t burn”. 

Lily included an iPad in every room which “is expensive, but cost-effective” because if it has the FireReady app, it alarms residents one to ten hours ahead of the fire approaching. Maddy used bricks because they are non-combustible and have a boiling point of over 1,500 degrees.