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Catalyst -

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'Ahead on Catalyst - Mark Horstman takes a class action.'

Scientists go back to school to help grow a clever country.

'Maryanne loses sleep in the name of science.'

I'm about to get behind the wheel after only four hours of sleep.

'And Ruben samples air from the '60s.'

The last time this scuba tank was used the Beatles were the top band in the world.

Scientists In Schools: A New Approach For School Science

Scientists in Schools: A new approach for school science (19/08/2010)

TRANSCRIPT

NARRATION

Back in the day when I was in primary school, this seemed to be what science was all about, a lot
of cool stuff with heaps of promise... that you weren't allowed to touch.

Teacher

Work in science means reading a lot of scales on a lot of instruments.

NARRATION

For many years, the way science was taught stopped schoolkids at the blackboard.

Teacher

I don't want to do an experiment right away, it would be a bit difficult to show.

NARRATION

Education may have changed, but how to prevent the interest of students sliding away from science
remains a challenge.

Mar Horstman

If you look at the stats about what high school students are studying, there's evidence of a
looming crisis in science education. Since 1992, the proportion of year 12 students studying
physics and chemistry has dropped by around a quarter, biology nearly a third.

NARRATION

Now there's a quiet revolution in science education rippling through our classrooms, and I don't
mean a building site with politicians in hard hats. It started with a big idea from Australia's
former Chief Scientist, Dr Jim Peacock.

Dr Jim Peacock

I wanted to try and get the science of now, not the science of the last couple of centuries, to add
interest to the curriculum of science in schools, both primary and secondary.

NARRATION

The program is called Scientists in Schools, and it works a bit like online dating.

Dr Jim Peacock

They register on a website, same with the teachers. We talk with them and they register, and then I
have a little team who tries to match a scientist with a teacher.

NARRATION

This is what the program looks like in real life, on the rocky shore at Taroona near Hobart. This
grade seven class adopted Dr Louise Emmerson as their own scientist more than a year ago.

Dr Louise Emmerson

I wanted to bring the children down on a field trip. My profession is as an ecologist, I love field
work.

NARRATION

The class maps the life of the rocky shore, by running transects and counting quadrates.

Dr Louise Emmerson

This is one of those tricky seaweeds that don't know what they are. If we can inspire these kids
about science, if we can get them to think that science is not this big scary thing out there that
only crazy people with lab coats do, then I think we've made a lot of progress.

NARRATION

For teacher Lynne Murray, it's a chance for her class to learn about scientists as much as science.

Lynne Murray

I got the children before they knew about it, to draw a scientist for me as they thought a
scientist would be, and I got white-coated males in a lab, so when I did ask for a scientist, I
asked could I have a female scientist because I could see the value to the students in breaking
down the stereotyping for them.

Alexandra

You kinda see the whole beach differently.

Taylor

It makes you take a second look at it.

Sam

You think of the beach like sand and rocks and water, but when you think of it in a sciencey kinda
way, there's a lot more different things that live there like animals and stuff.

Carol Rue

I don't want kids to reach high school and watch the news and feel like they can't do anything. I
want these kids to believe they can make a difference.

NARRATION

The next school day, I'm in Carol's grade four class, who have also adopted Louise as their
scientist-in-residence.

Dr Louise Emmerson

Today we're going to be doing a session called cabbage chemistry.

NARRATION

They're using red cabbage juice as a natural litmus test.

Dr Louise Emmerson

We're going to measure a whole bunch of household substances, and we're going to test to see what
pH they are. We're going to test to see whether they're acids, bases, or neutral.

Student

The shampoo is purple or violet and it's an acid, and the last one is a toilet cleaner, it's purple
and it's four and it's an acid. (giggles)

Mark Horstman

You always laugh when you say toilet cleaner, why's that?

Student

It's kinda funny because the toilet cleaner has turned pink.

Carol Rue

If you do science in your classroom, all the kids will want to write about it, they'll want to draw
diagrams, they want to ask those questions, so it helps in every area.

Mark Horstman

You've created something completely new

Carol Rue

If they see that it's a normal job that anyone can do, if you're passionate about it, that you
don't have to be Albert Einstein, I think we'll get more scientists, yes, we'll get more kids doing
science in high school.

NARRATION

Such positive responses from teachers helps explain why the Scientists in Schools program is
reaching more than a tenth of Australia's schools and an estimated 340,000 children. Scientists in
the program need the support of their employers, and to negotiate the activities they want to do
with the teachers.

Dr Louise Emmerson

I've negotiated six two-hour sessions a year, which is less than three days of my working time to
come into this classroom and be part of the program. So that's not a huge commitment in terms of my
time.

Mark Horstman

What do you guys like about these lessons?

Student

Exploding.

Mark Horstman

How about you, does it make you want to be a teacher?

Dr Louise Emmerson

No! I really like coming into the classroom for short bursts of time, but the teachers... it takes
so much energy, I always walk out of the classroom after one of these sessions and think all
teachers need a pay rise, and aren't they amazing.

Dr Jim Peacock

You're supposed to work these things out, how much they'll cost. Well, a year's worth of this for
one child is $3 worth, it's not bad.

Dr Louise Emmerson

We're not trying to turn every child into a scientist, that is not the goal. What we want to do is
make them find science palatable, make them understand they can be a scientist if they want to,
just continue to keep them engaged in science.

Mark Horstman

If you were sitting in a room with the Prime Minister and all the state education ministers right
now, what would you tell them?

Dr Jim Peacock

I'd tell them to come and look with me at one of the classes where the teachers and the scientists
are coming together. It's magical, it would be hard not to respond to that in a positive way.

Interrupted Sleep: The Dangers Of Restricted Sleep

Interrupted Sleep: The dangers of restricted sleep (19/08/2010)

TRANSCRIPT

Dr Maryanne Demasi

We all love a good night's sleep and let's face it, not enough makes us grumpy and drowsy. Now
sleep researchers are showing that restricted or interrupted sleep may be more harmful than you
think.

Professor Ron Grunstein

What we know about sleep is if you don't get it, you start to suffer.

Associate Professor Peter Liu

There's a relationship between disrupted sleep and the risk of obesity, the risk of diabetes, and
the risk of heart attack.

NARRATION

These researchers are looking at how disrupted or restricted sleep affects metabolism as well as
brain function. Graham and I are about to spend a night in a sleep lab to feel the effects for
ourselves. First we're both put through a series of tests to check our baseline reflexes.

Researcher

As soon as you see the red light you press the button and then that'll give you your reaction time
in milliseconds.

Dr Graham Phillips

It's quite stressful.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Ooh God I am so slow.

NARRATION

Then came the test for vigilance.

Shaun

Just pull the lever when you're ready and then you'll be off.

Dr Graham Phillips

Right, see you in an hour and a half.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

This is a long road to nowhere.

NARRATION

With the baseline testing out of the road, the fun part begins... getting wired up.

Kerri Melehan

Just like getting your hair done.

Dr Graham Phillips

Hey, look at that.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

All done, all wired up.

NARRATION

This experiment will investigate our cognitive function after each of us experiences a bad night's
sleep.

Dr Graham Phillips

Well I think it's my bedtime, right.

NARRATION

Graham will be getting a full eight hours. But the bad news is he'll be disrupted every time he
gets into a deep sleep.

Dr Graham Phillips

I'm not going to sleep. (lights go out) Hm. It's dark.

NARRATION

While Graham drifts off under the gaze of the night vision cameras, we monitor his progress in the
control room.

Kerri Melehan

These black lines here are his brainwave activity so we look at the patterns in that brainwave
activity to see what sort of sleep he's having, whether he's awake or asleep.

Professor Ron Grunstein

People a hundred years ago thought it was sort of like your brain just went dead. Um, and didn't
understand about different stages of sleep. I mean the, the understanding of stages of sleep wasn't
really refined till the fifties.

NARRATION

Essentially, sleep is divided into Rapid Eye Movement or REM which is when we dream and Non-REM
which includes the slow wave sleep.

Professor Ron Grunstein

Slow wave sleep by its name, is when the brain wave activity starts to slow, and you get these
waves that are slower than the standard sort of faster frequencies that you see.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

So essentially you're going to stay here all night and wait for him to get into that deep sleep and
then wake him up.

Kerri Melehan

Yes.

NARRATION

Now I have time to kill. As part of the experiment I'm being restricted to only four hours sleep so
I have to try and stay awake until 2am. But at least when I do get to bed, my sleep will be
uninterrupted. So unlike Graham, I should get some deep sleep. Finally, it's 2am.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

At last. Bed.

Associate Professor Peter Liu

As one falls into sleep, one falls into deeper and deeper sleep, and this deep sleep, or slow wave
sleep, is thought to be very important for the secretion of a number of very metabolically active
hormones. And so we therefore believe that sleep is intimately related to metabolic health through
these hormones.

NARRATION

This could have a serious impact on people with sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea sufferers who
have breathing difficulties during the night.

Michael Fung

I was waking up forty-eight times per hour. These are awakenings that you're not aware of. They're
not conscious awakenings. It's just, you're falling out of deep sleep, so you're not getting any
quality sleep.

Professor Ron Grunstein

Many patients with sleep apnoea get very broken down slow wave sleep. They'll still have a bit of
it, but it's chopped up when they snore and stop breathing and wake up. So we're looking at the
importance of that in those sort of patients.

NARRATION

Getting a bad night's sleep also affected Michael's metabolism.

Associate Professor Peter Liu

During sleep, certain metabolically active hormones are secreted. So for example growth hormone is
secreted during slow wave sleep, this deep sleep. And if you don't have slow wave sleep, then you
don't get this growth hormone being secreted.

NARRATION

This could increase the risk of diabetes and obesity and it also affects lipid processing. Once
Michael's sleep apnoea was successfully treated he saw a remarkable improvement in his metabolism.

Michael Fung

My body processed the lipids 25 per cent better.

George Dungan

Lights on, good morning, how are you doing?

Dr Graham Phillips

That was awful.

George Dungan

We'll get you unplugged and then we'll do some driving tests.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

I definitely want more hours sleep.

Dr Graham Phillips

That was perhaps the worst night's sleep I've ever had...

NARRATION

Now in our sleep stupor, it's time to get tested again.

Dr Graham Phillips

I can barely focus on the numbers.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

This is not going to be good.

Dr Graham Phillips

See how we go with this.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

This is so bad. Oh my God.

Dr Graham Phillips

Almost hit the truck.

NARRATION

An hour and a half later...

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Yes! Finished!

Dr Graham Phillips

That was awful. I'm never doing that again.

NARRATION

Now for the results.

Professor Ron Grunstein

You go into this stage of sleep, which is slow wave sleep. You can see the wave brain wave activity
is a lot sort of slower.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Alright, so how does this compare to Graham's?

Professor Ron Grunstein

The moment we saw a hint of slow wave sleep, we'd hit him with sound. And you can see here, these
are the sound hits.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

So how many times would you hit him with a noise burst?

Professor Ron Grunstein

Ah, lots. It looks like up to three hundred times across the night.

Dr Maryanne Demasi

Three hundred, wow!

NARRATION

While Graham had twice as much sleep as I did, he had virtually no deep sleep. So how did this
affect our ability to think?

Associate Professor Peter Liu

Well this is the most interesting graph I think. And what this shows us is that for fatigue and
your ability to drive straight...

Dr Maryanne Demasi

I did worse...

Associate Professor Peter Liu

Much, much worse compared to Graham. Well what this tells us is that for driving ability the slow
wave sleep component is not important.

NARRATION

Surprisingly, slow wave sleep wasn't crucial for Graham to maintain his concentration, but what
would've been the effect on his metabolism?

Associate Professor Peter Liu

What we predict is that the glucose metabolism, the metabolism that's important for diabetes risk
will be affected by the deepness of sleep.

NARRATION

Until the study is complete, there's one thing we do know... nothing feels better than a good
night's sleep.

A Blast From The Past: Analysing Air From The Sixties

A Blast from the Past: Analysing air from the sixties (19/08/2010)

TRANSCRIPT

Ruben Meerman

Scuba tanks help reveal the world beneath the waves to scuba divers - but it is what's inside scuba
tanks that's revealing something to scientists that may really surprise you.

NARRATION

The air in one old scuba tank has given atmospheric scientists a rare snap shot of our
environment's past.

John Allport

It was in the shed in here.

NARRATION

In 1968 John Allport had his scuba tank filled with air at a dive shop in Spencer St, Melbourne.

John Allport

We went down to Mornington, just south of the pier. Only were in the water for about five minutes
but it was too dirty and you couldn't see anything so we decided to get out. I never used them from
that day on.

NARRATION

And so the tanks sat in John's shed for the next 40 years... In 1978, Dr Paul Fraser started the
CSIRO air archive. The air monitoring station at Cape Grim in northwest Tasmania is one of the best
places in the world to collect air because there is nothing for hundreds of kilometres upwind to
contaminate the samples.

Ruben Meerman

Wow. Lots of bottles.

Dr Paul Fraser

Lots of bottles. We've been collecting bottles since 1978 from Cape Grim in Tasmania.

Ruben Meerman

Some really old ones over there. Is that the oldest you've got?

Dr Paul Fraser

Yeah, the first tank right up there is from 1978, April I think. April 1978.

Ruben Meerman

I'd just turned seven. Was it a good vintage of air?

Dr Paul Fraser

A very good vintage. The levels of greenhouse gases in that tank are significantly lower than we
see today.

NARRATION

In 2008 John and his wife, Marg, were watching TV, Catalyst in fact, when something caught their
eye.

Dr Paul Willis

... This is the oldest specimen. It comes from Cape Grim and it was collected in 1978...

John Allport

I've got air older than that in the shed.

Marg Allport

Why am I not surprised! You've got everything else out there.

John Allport

Next thing was to go out get the air bottles the next day and check them and yes they still had air
in them. And that's then when we rang CSIRO in Aspendale.

Dr Paul Fraser

Oh well I got this interesting call. And John in typical John fashion said I've got an older air
sample than you have. And I said that's wonderful, thank you. And he said would you like to have
it.

NARRATION

CSIRO didn't want to just store John's old air, they wanted to study it.

Ruben Meerman

So this is the machine that gives you all your results?

Dr Paul Fraser

It is. It's a Mass Spectrometer Gas Chromatograph or GCMS as they're called. And it measures very
very low levels of greenhouse gases in the archive.

Ruben Meerman

So what did you find out when you looked at John's tank?

Dr Paul Fraser

We got the tank from John and we found new record-low levels of greenhouse gases. This is the
lowest value for example of sulfur hexafluoride or carbon tetrafluoride that we've ever seen in a
contained air sample.

NARRATION

The data has been compared with measurements from air trapped in ice core samples from the
Antarctica and from air in the archive. Some gases, like the ozone-destroying CFCs once used in
refrigerators, can be seen increasing before they were banned in the late 1980s. Other gases, like
the HFCs we now use in refrigerators, aren't seen in John's sample at all, because, in 1968, they
weren't being used or we hadn't invented them yet. And that confirmed John's air truly was from the
sixties. The air is safe in the CSIRO archive but Paul has returned the tanks to John.

Ruben Meerman

How does it make you feel to know you've contributed this great air sample?

John Allport

Quite proud really, because otherwise you would just let it go. And I hope somewhere somebody can
come up with an older one.

Ruben Meerman

So CSIRO are putting out the call. Are there other old scuba tanks full of air lurking out there?

Truckie Scientist: The Truckie With A Passion For Nature

Truckie Scientist: The truckie with a passion for nature (19/08/2010)

TRANSCRIPT

Terry Lane

I'm a truck driver. I do it because it's probably the only thing I can do. I was always an armchair
conservationist and then one day I just thought "Do it!!".

NARRATION

Although he spends much of his life on the road, Terry Lane lives for his time out here.

Terry Lane

This park is very close to home and now that my children have left home I can do what I want to do,
if my wife let's me!!

Tanya Ha

Does she?

Terry Lane

That's the hardest battle, to get out of the house.

NARRATION

For the past five years Terry has been helping look after Organ Pipes National Park. Back in 1972
this whole area was nothing more than degraded farmlands.

Terry Lane

It was a dumping ground, very few trees. The idea was "let's get rid of the weeds"; I quickly
learned that conservation is not just planting a tree in the ground.

NARRATION

Nearly every tree you see here has been planted, from seeds native to the area. With countless
hours from volunteers, the natural habitat is returning and so is the wildlife.

Tanya Ha

One of the best ways to check the health of an ecosystem is to immerse yourself in it.

Terry Lane

What we are looking for are macroinvertebrates, these are tiny animals without a backbone and they
are at the beginning of the food chain... Just be careful because it's getting quite deep... that's
the way. You see it's a good workout!! Don't go to the gym, go down to the creek!

Tanya Ha

How's that look?

Terry Lane

Muddy! But that's good. Oh. Wow, there's a lot of caddisfly.

Tanya Ha

They look like little sticks with a tongue on them. There's a shrimp!

Terry Lane

Very sensitive to water quality, there's a stonefly. This is critical for fish, for frogs, the
whole food chain. This is a really healthy waterway, you can just tell. The first time I heard the
growling grass frog I was so nervous trying to record it, I had to do it three or four times
because I was so excited that I'd found an endangered species. It's very important to find out
what's happening. Frogs are disappearing all over the world and where we are here it's no
different.

NARRATION

Often as late as four in the morning, after a 12 hour shift, Terry will head down to the park to
count frogs.

Terry Lane

You don't see frogs, you hear them. I've got the digital recorder, I would note down the
temperature, the weather conditions. That data I put down into a field sheet that I've developed.

NARRATION

Every piece of information Terry collects is entered into a database and sent to Melbourne Water.
It forms part of a monitoring program on the local environment.

Terry Lane

It's something that's easy enough for the lay person to do it's not difficult, it's collecting data
and then sending it off to people that are, well, a lot smarter than me and they make sense of it
all. That is a feeling in itself that you're contributing and that's a wonderful feeling.

' Well, that's it for now. I'm Graham Phillips. Thanks for watching.