In the face of urban expansion, native wetlands and their ecosystems are under constant threat and need a helping hand to ensure their future sustainability.
On the 10 September, Central environmental students planted 184 native seedlings as part of their ongoing support and monitoring of two local wetlands.
They planted grevillea, woolly bush and one-sided bottlebrushes to aid rehabilitation and restore the wetlands as a pleasant visual feature.
The two wetlands are south of the entry to the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel and are managed by Main Roads and Lend Lease.
The students have been working with their lecturer Gun Dolva and Shane Collins from Main Roads to monitor and improve the ecological functioning and diversity of the wetlands.
To do this, the students have been monitoring the water quality and the freshwater invertebrates of the wetlands in Semester two, 2014 and 2015.
To aid the rehabilitation of the sites, the students have a contour map of the sites, developed by surveying lecturer Darryl Malacari, a herbarium of all the plants on the sites as well as a growing set of photographs of the sites for longer term monitoring.
The ongoing rehabilitation and monitoring of these two wetlands, by our environmental students will restore the area to a more diverse and better functioning ecosystem.
Central students are currently involved in a very unusual creative project as part of National Science Week.
The Perth Science Festival team got UWA, Scitech, Pathwest Laboratory Medicine WA and Central to join forces with the idea of making art from bioluminescence. What a bright idea!
The parties teamed up to develop some amazing art from biological processes.
Perth Science Festival is organised by the National Science Week WA Committee, comprised of representatives from the Perth universities, the State Government, Water Corporation and Central.
The microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles was brought over from New Zealand to coordinate the recruitment of artists for this special, one off project. One of those ultimately selected was Central Certificate III in Printing and Graphic Arts student Jason Lee Mitchell.
Jason was born deaf and his sight has made up for what his ears couldn’t. He started out drawing animals in his childhood and cartoons became a source of inspiration. A gift of a digital drawing tablet introduced him to the world of digital art.
“I enjoyed working on the project and feel honoured to have been a part of something quite amazing”, said Jason.
The Science Festival team wanted to break down some of the barriers between science and art. The selected artists used Photobacterium phosphoreum to create the work. No, not just the best words ever written on this blog, but naturally bioluminescent bacteria traditionally found in marine animals. To get more technical for a second, the bacterium emits a blue-green light at 490 nanometers due to a chemical reaction with the enzyme luciferase, which transforms chemical energy into light energy.
The bacteria were cultivated and then used on the agar to make the pieces of art. These were then mounted on frames and displayed in darkness in The Blue Room, Northbridge as part of the Science Festival over the weekend. The plating of the agar and the technical support for the project was provided by Central Laboratory Technicians Tamara Cornelius and Noeline Ellis. UWA grew the culture and Pathwest prepared the growth medium.
Bioluminescence is surprisingly common, especially in the ocean where it is found in everything from fish to sea stars, microscopic bacteria, jellyfish and squid. It is not quite so common in art galleries.
(Special thanks to Catalina Blue for providing the photos)
For most people, a trip to Thailand consists of sun, poolside cocktails and general R&R, but Central’s Environmental Monitoring and Technology students aren’t most people.
During May, environmental students, led by lecturer Gun Dolva and Global Vision International (GVI) went to Thailand to be involved in conservation work and learn about Thai culture.
Funded by the Federal Government through the VET Outbound Program, the two-week trip was the perfect opportunity for students to utilize their existing skills and build some new ones.
The students had a full schedule involving a variety of conservational and cultural activities including, rainforest surveys, turtle husbandry, beach cleaning and learning all about Thai culture.
For many, the highlight of the trip was travelling to Khao Sok to stay on floating huts. From there, the students took a ten kilometre hike to a bat cave and a dawn boat trip to spot primates and birds in the rainforest.
The experience gave the students a unique opportunity to study and appreciate the natural beauty of Thailand.
‘Hiking to reach a cave deep in the rainforest with spiders larger than the circumference of a bucket; living on floating bamboo rafts; birdlife rarely seen; finding colourful insects; and caring for turtles no larger than the size of my palm. These are all experiences one cannot find on the internet. The people are fantastic and the food better’, said Central student Steve as he reflected on the trip.
A conservation expedition to the remote corners of Thailand is an adventure most people will never experience, but for these Central environmental students it was a rare opportunity to use their skills in one of the most spectacular places on earth.
We need more people in STEM subjects, especially girls!
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, (STEM) are all subjects that are traditionally dominated by boys.
In an effort to buck the trend, Central hosted an interactive ‘Girls in STEM’ Open Day followed by a general STEM Open Day on the 19/20 June at the GreenSkills Centre in East Perth.
Year 10 and 11 girls from across the state answered the call. Over fifty girls descended on East Perth from places as far and wide as Pinjarra and Lesmurdie, including indigenous girls from the Follow The Dream program.
This year’s program was co-funded by the Department of Education and the Schools Pathway program and built on a solid showing last year.
The open days showcased the diverse range of career options available through STEM pathways and helped smash the stereotype that STEM subjects are a ‘boy thing’.
The days were structured to give participants a chance to try their hand at a little bit of everything. The girls were divided into five groups and rotated through activities for five different STEM pathways including building, science, engineering, resources and IT.
Every activity featured a female STEM ambassador from Central to both answer questions and illustrate the opportunities STEM skills can lead to.
With STEM skills in increasingly high demand as business and governments look to adapt new technologies, innovations and solutions to create jobs, events such as this show potential students the vast career potential in this field.
Officially opened by Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham and WA’s Minister for Workforce Training and Development, the Hon Liza Harvey, Central’s new GreenSkills building has been designed to be the very embodiment of sustainable technology.
Sustainability Skills, also known as ‘green skills’, are the technical skills, knowledge, values and attitudes needed in the workforce to develop and support sustainable social, economic and environmental outcomes in business, industry and the community.
Every aspect of the building including its architecture, construction, landscaping, and engineering principles has been designed on sustainability principles.
It is completely self-sufficient in energy and water.
Upon completion, the $17 million project, jointly funded by the Federal and State government, earned a 6 star Green Rating for design by the Green Building Council of Australia. a rating which represents world leadership in environmentally sustainable design.
Items and structures that are traditionally hidden in buildings have been peeled back and made visible for training purposes, with an overall aim to provide a living laboratory that shows how such work is constructed and maintained.
The building is a multi-purpose learning space that will be used to train students, schools, industry and the wider public in sustainable practices that are an essential feature now in most industries.
Among the first users of the facility are students studying Environmental Monitoring and Technology. This involves students developing skills in plant and fauna identification, soil typing and chemistry, the collection of field samples and occupational health and safety.
The state of the art environmental laboratory at the Centre is equipped with equipment and instrumentation to support sample analysis and provide access to specialist staff and tools.
The facility was one of the first in WA to be constructed using 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM). Traditionally building design is largely reliant upon two-dimensional drawings, but BIM allows an extension of the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and depth) with time as the fourth dimension (4D) and cost as the fifth (5D).
Workforce Training and Development Minister Lisa Harvey spoke of the importance of a Green Skills Centre for the future of the State.
“This, the State’s greenest building, ensures our graduates are at the top of their game in growing sectors such as sustainable building and construction”, she said.
Central MD Neil Fernandes was delighted to see the Institute open such a progressive, contemporary facility.
“This unique learning environment is a great reflection of where the VET sector is heading, with technology based, highly visible and flexible training facilities such as this that are capable of delivering the high level skills industry needs”, he said.
One of the first qualifications that will be delivered at the GreenSkills Centre is a new Diploma of Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technician course.
“This course is aimed at developing discipline specific skills and knowledge to work as a technical BIM specialist within a BIM design orientated environment and workplace. This will be the first formal BIM qualification to be developed and delivered in Australia”, said Building Design and Construction Portfolio Manager David Zanich.
“Central will also be delivering the national Certificate IV in NaTHERs (National Home Energy Rating Scheme) Assessor qualification as well.”
Last month, eight Environmental Science students from Central, together with their lecturer Gun Dolva, had a unique opportunity to visit Thailand care of the Federal Government’s Vocational Education and Training Outbound Mobility Program (VET Outbound).
The group gained invaluable work experience in the ecology field, while making a real difference towards the conservation of local species.
The VET Outbound Program provides support for VET students to undertake international short-term (less than six months) study experiences that relate to their course.
The students, currently studying a Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology (EMT), were based at Phang Nga and the work undertaken supported ongoing efforts by GVI (Global Vision International) towards conservation of marine and terrestrial habitats and species.
Work ranged from cleaning turtles, scrubbing turtle tanks, applying anti fungal solution, hiking in two national parks to conduct biodiversity surveys, identifying the species found and a collection of over 20 bags of trash from Thai Muang Beach.
“The ecological skills the students had learnt here at Central ended up fitting perfectly into the work they did at Phang Nga. Their ability to work in teams and in the field, which is something we do a lot here at Central, paid off wonderfully”, said EMT lecturer Gun Dolva.
“For me it confirmed that the EMT course and the activities we build into it prepares the students for work not only locally, but internationally as well.”