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UC spruiks science at Garran’s STEM Festival

Kim Pham

27 May 2016: Exploding onions, slime and multi-coloured liquids were some of the exciting experiments students witnessed when University of Canberra staff visited Garran Primary School.

Associate professor of organic chemistry Ashraf Ghanem and Bachelor of Education and Science student Bruce Miller hosted a number of interactive lab workshops at Garran Primary School on Friday, 6 May for its STEM Festival.

The week-long event included a range of guest presenters, educators and experts promoting the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 Mr Miller said he enjoyed engaging with the community and introducing students to science in an interactive manner.

"I love visiting schools, particularly primary schools, because it might be the students' first introduction to science," he said.

"The kids are always so appreciative, they love it. We try to make it as hands-on as possible because that makes it real."

The pair demonstrated basic experiments including dipping an onion into liquid nitrogen, dropping it and letting it smash into different pieces. They also used a slime experiment to explain how polymers link together, and created a density column using household items like honey and dishwashing detergent.

 It's a new environment for Mr Miller who previously spent 25 years as an explosive ordnance disposal (also known as a clearance diver) in the United States Navy.

"I've always been interested in maths and science. In my previous job I had a lot of experience with the practical application of science and I've always loved it," he said.

"I get to impart my knowledge on the next generation and learn from them too. It's not a one way street. I learn from them as much as they learn from me."