Prompted by concern over an apparent decline of interest in science and technology as careers, Australia's national laboratory accreditation body, National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) is giving a science prize specifically targeted at senior primary grades in
The competition is offering a total of $10000 in science equipment to the winning schools.
Coinciding with NATA's sixtieth anniversary, the association's initiative is aimed at encouraging children to consider the sciences and their impact on people's daily lives.
NATA is dependent in the voluntary work of more than 3000 scientists,
engineers and technologists to evaluate the technical competence of Australian laboratories. The results those laboratories provide must be reliable, as they underpin many aspects of Australian daily life.
According to NATA, its members were increasingly concerned about the low value placed on science by the general community.
NATA’s work is crucial to maintaining Australia's technical infrastructure, yet its accredited laboratories tell that it is becoming more and more difficult to find young people with good technical credentials. They are becoming concerned for the future.
The competition, open to all years five and six classes in Australia, is to design an experiment which highlights some of the issues involved in measuring an observed phenomenon.
For example, with climate change becoming an issue of growing interest,
a thermometer is used to measure the air temperature, and conclude that it is 25 degrees. But it is not known that the thermometer is accurate.
It is those sort of issues that go to the heart of why laboratories that test things formed NATA 60 years ago. NATA is a mechanism by which they can check their results against others and
against international standards.
The competition is offering a first prize of science equipment worth $6000 and a second prize of science equipment worth $4000.
The prize winners will obviously benefit enormously from the competition, but then so too, NATA believes, will every school that participates. NATA has consulted closely with the NSW Department of Education to ensure as far as possible that the competition can be undertaken by a class as part of the core curriculum.
By offering such a meaningful prize in such a way that small and remote schools are not disadvantaged, NATA hopes it can encourage some of these children to eventually think about science as a career option. As a nation, it is important to do everything to encourage
the sciences in education.
Competition and entry details are available from the NATA website.
NATA, a non-government, not-for-profit association, is Australia's national laboratory accreditation authority. NATA assists laboratories and related services across a wide range of disciplines in ensuring their testing methods and procedures are capable of providing accurate
NATA is a large and old system in the world: NATA has been accrediting laboratories for 60 years. NATA's competence as an accreditation provider is regularly evaluated by similar authorities in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. NATA was instrumental in helping establish international agreements so that laboratory results from one country are recognised in another, and continues to play a significant international role through its work with the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation.
As an association, NATA has nearly 3000 members across Australia, representing a huge range of testing, measurement, calibration and inspection facilities.