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Rockhampton Girls Grammar School Students Shine at SPARQ-ed Program


Rockhampton Girls Grammar School students, Katie and Molly, recently showcased their passion for science and genetics by participating in the SPARQ-ed program at the Translational Research Institute (TRI) over the holidays. Both students seized the opportunity to delve into the world of genetics and biomedical skills, gaining valuable insights and hands-on experience.


Molly, driven by her love for science and aspirations to become an obstetrician, gynecologist, and neonatal surgeon, eagerly embraced the chance to explore a real laboratory setting. Facing a scarcity of high-quality science programs for students in lower grades, Molly leaped at the opportunity presented by the SPARQ-ed program.

Reflecting on her experience, Molly shared, "I really wanted to get into a lab and just sort of see what my future would be like. Unfortunately, there’s also not a lot of really good science programs for students under grade 10/11 so when I saw the chance, I took it."


During the program, Molly and her peers focused on utilizing DNA to predict genetic disorders, specifically studying Goniodysgenesis and Glaucoma in Border Collies. She learned essential laboratory techniques, including DNA extraction, testing, and genetic sequencing. Molly expressed her enthusiasm for collaborating with like-minded peers, saying, "It was really good to talk to like-minded kids your age and learn all of these Uni level processes together."



Katie, drawn to the program through an email from their science teacher, Mrs. Dey, discovered a unique connection between her interest in agriculture and stud cattle breeding and the program's focus on genetics. For Katie, the program provided a chance to explore the impact of genetics on livestock, aligning with her curiosity about cattle breeding.


Sharing her thoughts on the program, Katie stated, "I am interested in knowing how genetics affects the livestock." Throughout the sessions, Katie delved into the sequences involved in DNA extraction, DNA sequencing information formation, and interpreting the provided information. Her interest peaked as she learned how they test cattle to identify specific genetic traits that can be passed on to their offspring.

The program was held at the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus (PA hospital) in Brisbane, specifically at the Translation Research Institute building (TRI Building). Katie was fortunate to receive the LMRF Beryl Phippard Memorial Scholarship, which covered her travel and accommodation expenses, highlighting the accessibility of such opportunities for students from remote or rural areas.



Katie and Molly's participation in the SPARQ-ed program not only showcased their dedication to science but also underscored the importance of providing students with hands-on experiences in real-world settings. The program not only fueled their passion for genetics but also broadened their perspectives on potential career paths within the scientific field. Rockhampton Girls Grammar School can be proud of these two students who seized an opportunity to explore, learn, and grow during their holiday break. The SPARQ-ed program has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on these aspiring young scientists, setting the stage for future successes in their academic and professional journeys.

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