On The Road Again!

The Discovery Voyager team had a busy second term travelling throughout the Northeast NSW region. It is always wonderful visiting schools and being accepted into the school community as we share our student focussed, hands on activities.

As a facilitator of the Science of Soils activity I have seen many students get their hands dirty whilst investigating the properties of the various soils we provide. These soils have different textures, colours and other properties and are sourced from the New England region. Recently whilst travelling between schools around Warialda in the Discovery Voyager truck I began reflecting on these soils. Driving along a road past various farms I was suddenly struck by the soils that were more visible than usual due to the extended drought conditions. Oh look; there is some of the black soil like we have. Over the hill and around the bend; look there’s some red soil. Down the road a bit further and there is some sandy soil. It highlighted to me that students can go home to their farms after participating in the Science of Soils activity and continue to explore the properties of the soil in their backyards. It emphasised to me how practical and hands on the activity really is.

Whilst staying at Warialda the Voyager team took the opportunity to visit Cranky Rock. It was fantastic wandering around the tottering rocks and seeing how precariously balanced they were. It also had me reflect on how the erosion of these granite rocks over the course of millions of years is the source of the soil in the surrounding landscape.

Another Voyager activity I facilitate is the Physics of Sound. And whilst at Cranky Rock I investigated the way in which the sound varied and conducts along the creek at the bottom of the rocks.

I was able to practise my ‘echo’ very easily as the shape and orientation of the rocks were very good at reflecting and focussing the sound I produced. We were at the rocks in the late afternoon and as the sun was setting the colour changes of the rocks were fantastic. So not only do the rocks highlight sound waves, they also highlight light waves.

This experience emphasised for me the wonderful environments we visit during our travels and the need to make time to enjoy them and appreciate them.

– By Phil Spark, UNE Voyager member and astrophysicist