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Research Project - Paving the Path for Future Education


For 15 of Adelaide’s bright budding researchers, the SACE subject ‘Research Project’ has been far more than just an opportunity to study an area of their interest; it has been an opportunity to take the “next step”.

Following the success of the program last year, the Association of Secondary Research Teachers (ASRT) in conjunction with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) have again run a reward scheme aimed at promoting and engaging students with an interest in medical research and science.

Students conducting scientific or medical based Research Projects were encouraged by their Research Project Teachers and SACE Coordinators to enter the competition for the MasterClass opportunity at the world class, state of the art SAHMRI centre. Entries required students to submit a 1-minute video explaining why a MasterClass at SAHMRI would be “next step” for them.

“The objective was to inspire students to develop an interest in science and medicine, as well as research. The SAHMRI Master Class is their opportunity to show extraordinary talent in researching their chosen topic and to then compete for a place,” said Dr Michael Musker (Senior Research Fellow, Mind & Brain Theme, SAHMRI). “For a student to spend time in our labs, with our researchers, will change their outlook and I am sure will lift their sights. Who knows what they will achieve in their research career in the future? Having met many of these bright young students, I’m blown away by their enthusiasm and talent.”

Olivia Papagni and Nicole Casazza from Nazareth Catholic College were 2 of 15 successful applicants who revelled in the SAHMRI MasterClass on Tuesday 4 December. The group of participants also included students from St Marys College, Prince Alfred College, Pulteney Grammar, Southern Vales Christian College, Tenison Woods College, John Pirie Secondary College, Adelaide High School, Henley High School, and Emmaus Christian College. Each of these bright individuals has shown excellence in their chosen field of study, and the key findings from their Research Projects relate to one or more of SAHMRI’s 7 themes.

“Engaging with researchers who were passionate in their research, much of which was ground-breaking within their respective fields, was an extremely rewarding and beneficial experience, allowing us to extend our knowledge around our research question and drive us to continue to feed our inquisitive hunger to know more,” described Thomas Johnson, Year 11 student from Prince Alfred College. “The invaluable insight into topics that aligned with the topics that interested us, from our own Research Projects was something that we could not have achieved without this masterclass and consequently it was a prized experience that we are very grateful that we were given the opportunity to partake in.”

For Nazareth student Olivia Papagni, it was the opportunity of a lifetime and a perfect example of the amazing possibilities the Research Project provides for students. “My participation in the master class showed me a wide range of possible career pathways, giving me further sense of direction for future studies. Thanks to the Research Project, I was able to build upon my knowledge in my chosen topic,” she said. “Research brings further structure to the world we live in through knowledge and understanding. I am grateful to have had the privilege of spending the day working with specialised researchers and professionals at SAHMRI who provided ideas on where research could end up taking me!”

Professor Martin Westwell, Chief Executive of the SACE Board of SA places great importance for students to “develop research skills if they are to navigate a complex world! From their everyday life or work, through to advanced scientific research, where they can push forward the boundaries of scientific knowledge”.

“Many students find a great deal of value in the Research Project when they are supported to pursue an idea that interests them and explore it in greater depth,” he said. “Working with SAHMRI, I am sure the award winning students will further develop their passion for research and their pursuit of new knowledge.”