Year 11 St Mary MacKillop College student Shona Kiely has won a gold medal at the annual Beijing Youth Science and Technology Innovation Competition recently, for her research project on a biodegradable fungicide to treat dieback in native plants.
More than 1500 students from all over the world presented their projects at the annual competition held in Beijing, China, with gold medals awarded across 39 categories including computer science, mathematics, biomedical and environmental engineering.
“Having such a large amount of people recognise my success was an inspiring and motivating experience” said Shona. ”I feel honoured to be rewarded for a project and topic that I am so passionate about.”
It was her concern for the future wellbeing of her local environment that led to the research project on dieback treatment. “I have always cared about nature, and dieback affects the environment that I live in.”
Shona completed her project in July last year as part of Rio Tinto and Scitech’s Beijing Bound Program, after working with a mentor Science graduate since April to plan, conduct and present her original research. She has enthusiastically embraced the whole process, from completing all the work promptly to presenting her project in front of more than 700 people. “It’s the most amazing experience that deepens your understanding of scientific research and provides so much inspiration for the future.”
Currently studying Physics and Chemistry, Shona agrees that Science and STEM are becoming even more crucial for kids and especially girls to continue studying in Senior school. “Science opens up so many pathways into careers, provides insight into how the world works and will be important in changing our world for the better.” She plans to study medicine, radiology or environmental science at university, “or some other STEM course that I may not even be aware of yet!”
Shona said it was inspiring to meet so many people her own age who were passionate about engaging modern technology to change the world for the better. She was also impressed with a number of other projects, such as an at-home breast cancer screening tool, and research on altering plant chromosomes to help them repel pests.
Scitech and Rio Tinto's 2019 Beijing Bound program is an opportunity for Year 10 students from Karratha and Busselton to develop and undertake an original scientific research project with mentorship from Rio Tinto science graduates. This is a unique opportunity for students to combine their passion for science with their knowledge of their region, undertake scientific research, and make a real contribution to Western Australian and global communities.
Under the guidance of a Rio Tinto mentor, students will develop and undertake a research project. The results of this project are presented as a final report, and as an oral presentation at a local showcase competition. The aim is that students will increase their knowledge, capabilities and confidence in STEM and will gain a greater awareness of STEM careers and Australian research in their communities.
The competition winners from this year will present their work at the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition in 2020. Applications close on Sunday 14 April, and can be made by going to this link.