News & Media

Synchrotron Spurs Scientific Research In Schools

Premier John Brumby today launched the Australian Synchrotron’s Educational Virtual Beamline to help students study the nature of light using the Synchrotron, from their classroom. The new initiative allowed Year 12 physics students at Williamstown High School to connect via computer to a Synchrotron beamline. Students then manipulated the equipment for their experiments and gathered images and light intensity data. “The Australian Synchrotron is already contributing to major research breakthroughs in Australia,” Mr Brumby said. “In a first for Australia, we are now opening up this major national research facility and making it a virtual physics laboratory for every high school in Victoria. “The powerful light of the Synchrotron has already helped break new ground in cancer research, the first of many new discoveries Australia’s leading scientists could make using this world-class infrastructure. “By enabling students to use the Synchrotron we hope to inspire the researchers of tomorrow and continue world-leading, pioneering research.” Mr Brumby said schools will be able to register online, book time for experiments, and give more than 6000 Victorian physics students the opportunity to work with a light source among the brightest in the world. “The experiment the students undertake using the Synchrotron – the Young Experiment – was first performed in 1880 to discover the wave properties of light,” Mr Brumby said. “Studying the dual properties of light is one of the basic building blocks of scientific research which is why it is part of the core physics curriculum. “Outside the classroom, studying light has helped understand the stars, led to medical discoveries such as the x-ray and fostered inventions such as lasers which have revolutionised telecommunications. “Victoria needs bright minds to build a brilliant future. By bringing the Australian Synchrotron into students’ own classrooms we hope to inspire the next generation of scientific researchers.” Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings said the Educational Virtual Beamline was more than a teaching tool and would lead to ‘eResearch’ at the Australian Synchrotron. “This project uses technology which could lead to remotely-controlled experiments on the Synchrotron’s other beamlines,” Mr Jennings said. “Eventually we want to make it possible for scientists anywhere in Australia to send their samples to the Synchrotron and control sophisticated experiments and capture data remotely.