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Young Visionaries Outreach Program - Year 8 Melrose High school students

Little interaction exists between high school students and university researchers. Nilisha Fernando, Jacob De Puit and I attempted to bridge this gap by organising a visit to Melrose High School to have a conversation with the Year 8 students about our research. This visit was organised as a part of the Academic Curriculum Enrichment (ACE) Science initiative – an exciting and multiple national award-winning program for students with an interest in science and discovery. The Clear Vision Research team has been involved in this rewarding program for several years.

Upon arrival at Melrose High School we were greeted by enthusiastic teachers and a class of 'pupils' eager to learn new things about the human eye. We started our session by having a short presentation where we described the features of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – the disease our laboratory is focusing on. In this presentation we demonstrated how vision deteriorates in AMD sufferers which immediately caught the attention of the students. After the presentation we divided the students into three groups so they can take part into a few interactive, hands-on activities. The students had the opportunity to deconstruct a model of the human eye, use a microscope to examine the structure of the retina, discover their blind spot and wear disease-mimicking goggles. We were very impressed with the level of knowledge the students already possessed about the eye and how vision works. However, the students level of engagement and curiosity was equally impressive. In my opinion, this is a reflection of the success the Ace Science initiative has achieved in inspiring bright young minds and piquing their interest in science.

We ended the session by asking the students to tell us what they thought was the most interesting concept they have learnt during this class. We were astounded at the accuracy and depth of the students answers­­ and we left the school feeling rewarded. Big thanks to thank you to Renee Phillips (the classroom teacher) and Geoff McNamara (program organiser) for all their support for the day. Also thanks to the wonderful year 8 students of Melrose High School who were so enthusastic and asked great questions. Clear Vision Research will return in 2019.

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