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Year 12 IB Chemistry students

On the afternoons of 19th and 20th of July, Year 12 IB Chemistry students headed enthusiastically to the University of the Sunshine Coast for the ‘Keeping It Local’ program. Months of collaboration between Chemistry teacher and Acting Head of International Baccalaureate Mr. Chris Buswell and USC staff, saw students enjoying an impressive array of interactive activities and demonstrations. Day One included a group orientation of the campus, a tour of the Immerse and Engage Learning Spaces, and a first-hand look at research laboratory. Although it felt like fun and games, we learned about the practical applications of virtual and augmented reality by playing with simulators.

On Day Two came the activity we’d all been eagerly awaiting since first hearing about the project earlier this year - an immersive demonstration of USC’s Cave2TM facility. The Cave2TM provides a near-seamless, 320-degree panoramic 3D virtual environment, allowing us to interact with visualisations of many chemistry concepts, from atomic structure and orbitals, to stereoisomerism and nucleophilic substitution reactions. The only one of its kind in the world used for learning and teaching, we were lucky enough to be the first group of students to utilise the Cave2TM to gain a unique view of chemistry. Following this, we completed an exciting lab activity on the oxidation of luminol. Bioluminescence is difficult to demonstrate on a practical level in the classroom, so this was a very special opportunity.

It is evident that we had an amazing time at USC over these two days. The program most definitely succeeded in its aim to engage IB students in enhanced collaborative learning environments that provide chemistry-focused ICT extensions, and highlight study and research options available to us. We’d like to thank Mr. Buswell, Mr. Melady, Ms. Judith Warmerdam, and the other USC staff who contributed to giving us such an invaluable experience. We’ve all returned to class with a renewed passion for chemistry and our study options for next year.


Sarah Gaukroger (12 IB Chemistry)