Astrolabe contest #ST12 [fr]
For the past 2 years the French Embassy in Australia has been organising the scientific competition Astrolabe under the initiative of the Defence Mission and in partnership with the Scientific and Cultural Cooperation Service.
Telopea students, their teachers and embassy officials in front of the Astrolabe.
This contest takes place at Talopea Park French-Australian school in Canberra. Its aim is to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies among secondary school students, to raise their awareness on ecological and climatic issues, and to inform the public about France’s commitment in Antarctica. The central element, which links the Embassy’s Scientific and Defence services, is the icebreaker Astrolabe with its role in supporting polar science.
The students, in groups of 2 to 4, prepare an experimental project around the themes of research in Antarctica (oceanography, climatology, space) but also around the Astrolabe itself, and then present their findings in front of a jury composed of professors from the Australian National University, members of the Embassy and teachers. Two projects were selected and the students in these groups won a 3-day trip to Hobart in Tasmania.
Dr. Nick Welsford in a Krill breeding lab at AAD.
The selected students were able to visit the Australian Antarctic Research Division (AAD), and meet Dr Dick Welsford who showed us the world’s only Krill laboratory farm, the logistics and equipment warehouses for expeditions, but also an immersion in the Australian Antarctic station thanks to a virtual reality device. The group was able to meet DrDelphine Langlais and PrMathieu Mongin, researchers at CSIRO, who presented their research on ocean currents and the Great Barrier Reef. At the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) of the University of Tasmania, the students exchanged with Prof Lannuzell and the researchers in his team about their career paths and what inspired them to pursue a research career in oceanography and climatology. The Talopea Park students, in turn, presented their projects. They were welcomed at Mawson’s Hut, a replica of the hut built in 1911 in Antarctica during the expedition by an Australian team led by Sir Douglas Mawson. Finally, as the icing on the cake of these visits, the students boarded the French polar patrol ship Astrolabe to meet its captain CF François Ceccaldi. The icebreaker is the result of a partnership between the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF), the French Polar Institute (IPEV) and the French Navy. The ship rotates between Hobart in Tasmania and the Dumont d’Urville station in Antarctica to refuel the base and to transport passengers.
The exchanges with these teams of young and dynamics researchers were particularly enriching. The students were surprised by the diversity of jobs related to Antarctica and their practical applications. They realised the central role of Antarctica in the climatic system. We would like to thank the researchers from the French-Australian Association for Research and Innovation (AFRAN) who helped us to set up these visits and who kindly welcomed us in their institutions.
The 3rd edition is already on track at the Franco-Australian Talopea Park School. This year more than 60 students have decided to take part in the competition!