The annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are amongst the most prestigious celebrations of scientific excellence in our country - deemed the most comprehensive, these awards recognise excellence not just in research and innovation, but in communication, journalism, and school science as well.
The 2016 Eureka Prize winners were announced last night, and amongst highly decorated researchers and great leaders in science, several school students from across the country also took to the stage in Sydney’s Town Hall.
They were competing for a special award - the University of Sydney Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize for short student-made films that communicate “a scientific concept in an accessible and engaging way.” Divided in two categories for primary and secondary school students, each year this competition inspires children to engage with science in a fun and creative way.
Since the resulting videos are always such a treat to watch, this year we’re bringing you a complete rundown of the winners’ and finalists’ entries, so you can see the budding next generation of Australian scientists in action, and learn something from them, too.
The Bluebottle and the Glaucus - winner, primary school category
Hayden Ingle, Year 6, Banksmeadow Public School, NSW
Hayden was inspired to create his film after discovering a glaucus atlanticus on the beach, and wondering what it was and what it ate. The film actually uses some of Hayden’s own underwater footage, and is likely to teach you something new about the bluebottle hydrozoan (filmed uncomfortably close, too).
Seeing Red - 2nd place, primary school category
Rosanna Cartwright and Elli Rugg, Year 5, Santa Sabina College, NSW
In the film, Rosanna and Elli explain how the eyes and brain work together to see colour and take to their local swimming pool with red-lensed goggles to test out their hypothesis. There is actual data, a cool animated cross-section of vision in the brain, and even starfish earrings.
Owl Pellets: A Postal System to Scientists - winner, secondary school category
Claire Galvin and Anna Hardy, Year 10, St Monica’s College Cairns, Qld
If you’ve never seen someone take apart a Barn Owl’s pellet (bare-handed!), this is your chance - and you also get to learn how these odd things come about. Claire and Anna explain how owl pellets are used by scientists to gather data for conservation efforts, animal population studies and ecosystem monitoring. Don’t miss the bone stop-motion animation!
No Place for Race - 2nd place, secondary school category
Tom Downie and Harry Bebbington, Warrandyte High School, Vic
This one is a humorous exploration of how and where our ape-like ancestors developed into one species – Homo sapiens – through creation myths, fossils, dating methods, evolution and the migration of hominids. With production values reminiscent of Monty Python, and an important message about racism, watch this one carefully to not miss a “Please Explain” reference!
Sniffles - 3rd place, secondary school category
Meg Paterson, Year 9, The Scots School Albury, NSW
Taking inspiration from the old wives’ tale ‘You’ll catch your death of cold’, Meg explains why there’s such a strong association with catching a cold, and being cold. There’s some spectacular plasticine animation work, great on-camera presentation, and, most importantly, real evidence-based information.
If you enjoyed these and would love to watch more, head over to Australian Museum’s YouTube channel for more videos from this year’s highly commended students, and past Sleek Geeks competitions, too.