STAQ E-newsletter


STAQ E-newsletter

05th Dec 2012

Find out what’s been happening at the Science Teacher’s Association of Queensland with their December e-newsletter.

Includes information on the STAQ Senior Science Conference, Annual General Meeting, 60th Queensland Science Contest and much more.

Follow this link to view: STAQ December E-newsletter


South Americans learn skills in outback Queensland

23rd Oct 2012

In parts of South America there has been wide conflict, particularly in Peru, where many people have been killed during public protests about mining.

Tensions have also been high in South Africa, where striking platinum miners have finally struck a wage deal, following five weeks of bloodhsed and unrest.

University of Queensland Professor David Brereton, who works with the Sustainable Minerals Institute, says he was approached by the Australian Ambassador in Peru to run the study tour to Mount Isa.

He says he hopes that by observing the relationship between Australian Aboriginals and mining companies, the South Americans will take lessons back to their home countries.

Seventeen representatives of government and Indigenous organisations from Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia arrived in Mount Isa on Sunday.

They visited an Indigenous training group near Camooweal called Myuma and also toured Xstrata’s copper operations in Mount Isa.

Follow the link to listen to the audio interview – ABC reporter Emma Cillekens with Professor Brereton, Fransisco Cevallos Paez from Ecuador and Yohannaliz Vega Auqui from Peru.

Source: ABC North West Queensland


Spatial PD for Teachers in Mount Isa

22nd Oct 2012

GTAQ, in conjuction with Contour Education, will be running a professional development session for teachers in Mt Isa and surrounding regions on Saturday 17th Novemberat Spinifex State College.

The professional development will be a full day workshop on how to use spatial technologies in the Geography classroom. Mick Law will provide a simple, easy-to-follow introduction to the wonders of spatial technologies such as online GIS, Google Maps and Google Earth. The professional development will also provide some insight on how spatial technologies can be effectively incorporated when teaching the yet to be released Australian Geography Curriculum.

The cost for the full day workshop (9:00am – 4pm) is $100 for GTAQ members and $150 for non-members.

For more information on this professional development opportunity, please download the flier – Mt Isa Simple Spatial Technologies.

To register for the event, go to the GTAQ Professional Development Registration page by clicking on the following link – Registration for Spatial Technologies Professional Development and select the ‘Register’ button. You will receive confirmation via email once you have registered.

If you have any queries regarding this professional development opportunity, please contact Mick Law via email or call 0431665879.


UQ students advance their mining skills

06th Sep 2012

The University of Queensland students are gaining advanced skills in preparation for jobs in the booming mining sector, thanks to the University’s Newcrest Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Laboratory.

Established last year, the Newcrest HVAC lab, provides engineering educators better opportunities to design and teach courses that develop specialised mining skills and knowledge in the application of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and heat transfer in various heating and cooling processes.

UQ’s School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering senior lecturer Dr Saiied Aminossadati said Newcrest Mining’s support of the laboratory was making an important contribution to the development of industry-aware graduates capable of leading the nation’s resources sector.

“In the past year, 300 mining and mechanical engineering students have attended classes in this laboratory,” Dr Aminossadati said.

“They conducted experiments on psychrometry, air ventilation and refrigeration with a high level of accuracy using the advanced equipment and instrumentations.”

UQ Graduate Blake Callinan said the practical knowledge he gained using the laboratory had provided insights into ventilation management, which helped him secure a graduate position within the underground metalliferous sector.

“I was lucky enough to be a member of the first cohort to use the Newcrest sponsored HVAC laboratory,” Mr Callinan said.

“This laboratory provides an interactive approach to enable deeper understanding of mine ventilation systems and psychrometry of the mining environment.

“I would like to thank Newcrest for their immense efforts in supporting the students of The University of Queensland through the provision of world-leading teaching facilities, ensuring top quality graduates for the future.”

Newcrest Mining also supports UQ engineering students with up to four scholarships each worth $30,000 over three years.

Media: Madelene Flanagan ( or +61 7 3365 8525)

Source: University of Queensland


Oresome World App

21st Aug 2012

Our new ‘Oresome World’ educational iPad app is a finalist in the 2012 Australian Mobile Awards!

Oresome World is an interactive iPad game that takes the user on a journey of discovery through the Energy and Mining industry. Users can view the related media, study the fact sheets, complete quizzes and challenge activities and discover what sorts of careers are available in the industry.

Please help by voting for Oresome World – follow the link here to view more.

Thank you 🙂


Futuristic wall display shows real-time energy usage

28th Feb 2012

There’s more to the home energy conservation system designed by Queensland University of Technology industrial design graduate Erica Pozzey than meets the eye.

Her design, Triad Energy, won two industry awards which brought work experience with Infinity Design and Prodex and helped Erica gain a valuable understanding of real-world industry practice.

Triad Energy is a concept for a management system that lets people not only customise the unit to their home’s own characteristics it also generates awareness and understanding of why energy conservation is relevant on a personal level, with clear, tangible benefits within their own environment.

To read more about Erica’s innovative design or to watch a video on how it works, click here.


How does a coal mining company get started?

28th Feb 2012

Several companies have recently started looking for coal in the Central Queensland region, and in fact have exploration ground covering tens of thousands of kilometres.

Jacquie Mackay of ABC Brisbane looks at where these companies come from and how difficult it is to emerge as a serious contender in the coal market.

Brendan Donnelly, a lecturer in Mining Engineering at CQUniversity also speaks about how coal companies get their start.

To listen to or download the full audio file of the program, click here.

Source: 612 ABC Brisbane


Get real: taking science to the next generation of Einsteins

07th Dec 2011

The state of science: If there is a crisis in student enrolment numbers in school science, where does that come from? Denis Goodrum asks whether a new perspective could revolutionise both teaching and learning.

In 1992, 94% of all Australian Year 12 students studied science. According to a soon-to-be-finalised report I’ve been working on, this figure has now shrunk to 50%. Such a dramatic fall in student numbers raises many questions about school science in our country.

Before answering the obvious questions – why the decline, how do we address it? – we maybe have to ask ourselves why science should be taught in schools at all.

The history of science is built upon questions resulting from observations and the gathering of evidence. The answers to these questions form the body of knowledge that is commonly called “science”.

This body of knowledge is continually changing, and in recent years it has been rapidly increasing. And the process of building this scientific knowledge is as important as the knowledge itself.

For the full story, go to


A new leaf turns in carbon science

10th Oct 2011

A new insight into global photosynthesis, the chemical process governing how ocean and land plants absorb and release carbon dioxide, has been revealed in research that will assist scientists to more accurately assess future climate change.

In a paper published today in Nature, a team of US, Dutch and Australian scientists have estimated that the global rate of photosynthesis, the chemical process governing the way ocean and land plants absorb and release CO2, occurs 25% faster than previously thought.

From analysing more than 30 years of data collected by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego including air samples collected and analysed by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology from the Cape Grim Air Pollution Monitoring Station, scientists have deduced the mean rate of photosynthesis over several decades and identified the El Nino-Southern Oscillation phenomenon as a regulator of the type of oxygen atoms found in CO2 from the far north to the south pole.

“Our analysis suggests that current estimates of global primary production are too low and the refinements we propose represent a new benchmark for models to simulate carbon cycling through plants,” says co-author, Dr Colin Allison, an atmospheric chemist at CSIRO’s Aspendale laboratories.

The study, led by Dr Lisa Welp from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, traced the path of oxygen atoms in CO2 molecules, which tells researchers how long the CO2 has been in the atmosphere and how fast it had passed through plants. From this, they estimated that the global rate of photosynthesis is about 25 percent faster than previously thought.

“It’s difficult to measure the rate of photosynthesis for forests, let alone the entire globe. For a single leaf it’s straightforward, you just put it in an instrument chamber and measure the CO2 decreasing in the chamber air,” said Dr Welp.

“But you cannot do that for an entire forest. What we have done is to use a naturally occurring marker, an oxygen isotope, in atmospheric CO2 that allows us to track how often it ended up inside a plant leaf, and from oxygen isotopic CO2 data collected around the world we can estimate the mean global rate of photosynthesis over the last few decades.”

In other studies, analysis of water and oxygen components found in ocean sediments and ice cores have provided scientists with a ‘big picture’ insight into carbon cycling over millions of years, but the search for the finer details of exchanges or uptake through ocean algae and terrestrial plant leaves has been out of reach.

Dr Allison said understanding the exchange of gases, including CO2 and water vapour, in the biosphere – oceans, land and atmosphere – is especially significant to climate science, and to policymakers, because of its relevance to global management of carbon emissions.

The authors said that their new estimate of the rate of global photosynthesis will help guide other estimates of plant activity, such as the capacity of forests and crops to grow and fix carbon, and help re-define how scientists measure and model the cycling of CO2 between the atmosphere and plants on land and in the ocean.

Dr Allison said understanding the exchange of gases, including CO2 and water vapour, in the biosphere – oceans, land and atmosphere – is especially significant to climate science, and to policymakers, because of its relevance to global management of carbon emissions.

“Quantifying this global production, centred on the exchange of growth-promoting CO2 and water vapour, has been historically difficult because there are no direct measurements at scales greater than leaf levels.

“Inferences drawn from atmospheric measurements provide an estimate of ecosystem exchanges and satellite-based observations can be used to estimate overall primary production, but as a result of this new research we have re-defined the rate of biospheric carbon exchange between atmosphere, land and ocean.

“These results can be used to validate the biospheric components included in carbon cycle models and, although still tentative, may be useful in predicting future climate change,” Dr Allison said.

CSIRO’s Dr Roger Francey was a co-author on the project, led by Scripps’ Drs Welp and Ralph Keeling. Other co-authors of the study are Harro Meijer from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands; Alane Bollenbacher, Stephen Piper and Martin Wahlen from Scripps; and Kei Yoshimura from the University of Tokyo, Japan.

Dr Allison said a critical element of the research was access to long data sets at multiple locations, such as Cape Grim, Mauna Loa and South Pole, extending back to 1977 when Cape Grim was established in Tasmania’s north-west, together with more recent samples from facilities such as Christmas Island, Samoa, California and Alaska. The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station provides vital information about changes to the atmospheric composition of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station, funded and managed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, detects atmospheric changes as part of a scientific research program jointly supervised by CSIRO’s Marine and Atmospheric Research Division and the Bureau.

The research was partly funded by a grant from the Australian Climate Change Science Program supported by the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.



Mining set to be nation’s fastest growing industry with estimated 1.45 million staff in 20 years

26th Sep 2011

Mining will be the nation’s fastest growing employment industry in the next five years but three times as many jobs are being created outside the mines as inside.

The total mining workforce is tipped to more than double in the next 20 years, from an estimated 693,000 who are now directly and indirectly employed to 1.45 million staff Australia-wide.

In the next five years alone, the Department for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations reveals 69,200 new jobs will be created directly in mining, at a growth rate of 34.5 per cent compared to 25 per cent for health and 21 per cent for electricity, gas, water and waste services.

Already the mining workforce is growing by one-third each year and accounts for 7 per cent of total job creation.

The Minerals Council of Australia estimates that for every worker employed directly by mining, a further three workers are employed in mining-related roles.

They include everything from diesel mechanics who repair and maintain trucks to cleaners who mop up after workers in break rooms and administration areas. Research by The Australia Institute also reveals the mining industry loses an average of 26 per cent of its workforce, leading to a turnover rate of about 53,000 workers at current employment levels.

Engineers, electricians and labourers are high on the hit-list, with Skills Australia deeming between 40,000 and 60,000 workers are required in each profession. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 226,000 people are directly employed in mining in Australia, of which 66,800 are employed in Queensland.

Queensland and Western Australia lead the mining boom with Queensland reporting 83 operating mines as of February and 118 in Western Australia.

Queensland Employment, Skills and Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe says $80 billion in new projects have just been approved across the state. “That translates to 38,000 construction and operational jobs in the Queensland resources sector between now and 2014-15,” Hinchliffe says.

Mackay, Emerald and Gladstone make up the employment trifecta for Queensland’s resources boom.

“We had the coal boom in the ’60s and copper and zinc in the ’70s,” Hinchliffe says. “What we’re seeing is expanded activities in the minerals sector and coal and a whole new industry with the development of Liquified Natural Gas, all at once.”

Rio Tinto Coal Australia, which operates four coal mines near Clermont, Mackay and Emerald, is currently recruiting skilled workers for 180 positions across it’s mining interests in Queensland and New South Wales.

Rio Tinto spokesman Matt Klar says successful candidates for the majority of the sitebased roles will be people with mining backgrounds, but eligible candidates are also likely to be found in defence and transport-based industries. Hinchliffe says this is opening up related employment opportunities.

There are also extraordinary employment opportunities within communities hosting resource projects.

Residential property developer, Devine, announced it would build a $1.4 billion community in the Central Queensland city of Gladstone over the next 12 years, with an education centre, retail outlets, and accommodation for up to 7500 people in 2900 homes.

An estimated 7500 engineering fabrication tradespeople are also required across the state, with only 2930 apprentices in training.

The Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy is currently working in 30 high schools, including Churchie, Alexandra Hills, and Wavell Heights, to connect students with industry opportunities.

Jim Devine from the Queensland Resources Council says there is nothing in the history books to rival the projects that are going ahead in the resources sector in Queensland.

“There is $45 billion in four LNG projects (in Gladstone) alone,” he says.

This equates to 18,000 construction jobs to build the LNG plants and pipelines which will then turn into 5000 to 6000 operation jobs once the plants are online.


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