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Year 9 Science: Challenge: Home

This guide is designed to assist students studying the Challenge course to develop a solution that is STEM inspired for chosen local or global community problem. For example: Environment and Climate Change Disability and Accessibility Health Care

Year 9 Science Challenge

Writing strategies

Disability and Accessibility

Making STEM Accessible

There are many aspects to study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that are easily accessible for students with vision impairments and learning disabilities that affect reading.  Any screen reading technology will manage the text.  The problems arise when diagrams, graphs and equations are used.  While no technology is perfect yet, things are progressing at a rapid pace and there are already many work-arounds that are making STEM more accessible than ever before.

While many individual solutions are dependent on the assistive technology (AT) the student is most confident using,  LexDis has a wealth of strategies, guides and advice as well as a simple, easy to read table showing how to make STEM information accessible, cross referenced by AT, disability and information-type.

Descriptions of STEM content

Descriptions of diagrams are an essential element of making STEM texts accessible for students with a range of disabilities who may be using a variety of assistive technology (AT).

As a starting point for content specific to STEM, The National Center for Accessible Media (US) has published Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books, which describes, chapter by chapter, how to describe elements such as bar, pie and flow charts, line graphs, Venn diagrams, scatter plots, tables and equations.  The site contains a wealth of research and advice on making all forms of digital media accessible to people with disabilities.  In a simpler format, you can find similar information from The Diagram Centre.  However, both of these sites only offer information on how to describe existing texts, not how to create accessible content in a live setting, nor how students can respond in like format.

STEM accessibility for students with mobility and psychosocial disabilities

Accessibility for students in STEM subjects may not all be about the equations and diagrams.  Professor Graeme Earl of the University of Southampton talks about another aspect of making STEM accessible to students who may not be able to participate in working out in the field, in his case in archaeology, though the same could be applied to geology and some study in civil engineering. The University have shared both a video and a transcript of his ideas.

STEM for students with Colour Deficiency

The Institute of Physics (IOP) has published a short guide for supporting students with colour deficiency with study in STEM subjects.  IOP suggests labelling all colours that are necessary for a student to identify, using black borders around colours and using black or blue on white as much as possible.

Mathematics content for students who are Blind or have a Vision Impairment

There are some basic free or reasonably priced solutions that may be a starting point that will suit most students. 

It may take a little learning for the lecturers, but students in a post-secondary setting will be familiar with Microsoft compatible applications such as MathType, an application that allows the creation of mathematical notation for inclusion in desktop and web applications.  Equations can then be read aloud using MathPlayer, a free application.  These are both a step beyond using Microsoft’s built-in text to speech. 

What seems to be the most common practice in universities is to publish mathematics in LaTeX, because lecturers find it easier to use.  While the LaTeX code can be read aloud, it is just that – code, and unless the student has learned the code (much like learning a new language), they will be unable to access the content using a non-visual desktop access (NVDA) AT software package until it is published in HTML or MSWord.  To get the information from LaTeX to MS Word, the easiest process is to copy and paste into MS Word and then use MathType to convert the content to maths objects. Alternatively, if you want to use HTML, then you can embed LaTeX equations in an HTML file and use MathsJax to convert the LaTeX material into MathML content.

Where a student uses voice activated dictation using software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate rather than use a keyboard to enter equations, Scientific Notebook can be used as a scientific word processor with MathTalk enabled to perform the full range of functions required of students needing to work with complex mathematics. 

Wiris Chemistry toolbar is based in MathML that is compatible with NVDA that allows students to work with Chemistry formulas.

EquatIO is the ‘new kid on the block’, released in 2017 and based on marketing materials appears to be revolutionary.  Produced by TextHelp, EquatIO allows the user to type or handwrite virtually any mathematical expression directly on their keyboard or touchscreen..  EquatIO is also compatible with the Desmos software used to create graphs, which most students who are Blind or who have a significant vision impairment will know how to use before completing their schooling.  EquatIO is available to download free of charge for teachers.

Where AT falls down is where PDF files are used.  Currently, AT cannot read aloud any maths equations in PDFs and readers using NVDA must rely on descriptions provided through Alt-text.  Another accessibility issue is that technically, e-readers should support MathML through the ePub3 standards, but in reality very few do.  Simple advice to lecturers who use equations and prepare materials in LaTeX is to advise them to keep the original .tex files and make them available to students who rely on NVDA and to refrain from using PDFs entirely.

Finally, higher education and training providers need to be aware that some students, mostly adult entry, will be most comfortable with Nemeth Code, or Braille for Mathematics.  Although Nemeth Code is American, many blind Australians became used to it because this was what their devices were programmed for.  While adjustments must be made if this is the only AT a student is used to, they would benefit from intensive training in the use of more modern AT as it is more instantaneous and flexible.


Further reading and resources


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Statistics, Graphs and Surveys

Statistical data will lend credibility to your research by providing facts and figures supporting your position. Therefore, statistics may be important to include in your class assignments, research papers, and theses. However, statistical data is not always easy to find since there is no single source for this type of information. Statistics may come from scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, websites, books, statistical databases, and more.

It is important to keep in mind that the most current statistics may actually be a year old or more. Organizations publish reports and statistics according to the data collection cycle (not necessarily annual), the time it takes to analyze and report the data, and the public release schedule.


This collection features open curriculum materials that integrate science, technology, engineering, art and math.  A STEAM curriculum encourages students to think critically and use engineering or technology in imaginative designs or creative approaches to real-world problems while building on students' mathematics and science base.

 62 affiliated resources

Navigating the ABS website

ABS Geography

How are ABS data collated?

Useful archived publications

Presentation of Assignment Resources

The digital presentation of your ideas needs to convey your information in an engaging way. Your speech should entertain the viewer and emphasise the key points. A speech should be around 3 minutes in length and if you choose a powerpoint, it should be a minimum of 15 slides. Some different examples are shown below.

Imagine the hottest day you've ever experienced. Now imagine it's six, 10 or 12 degrees hotter. According to climate researcher Alice Bows-Larkin, that's the type of future in store for us if we don't significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions now. 

Death by powerpointIf you insist on making a PowerPoint, please read the following link so you can make it more interactive and interesting. Click here.

Behind The News ABC

Your 'Ethical Issue' may have been in the media recently (check Google News)  If you want a different topic ... browse these places on logos...

For Australian Topics ....



For International Topics ....

Search Proquest Database for relevant newspaper articles on your topic.

Australian Government Websites

Student video game designers scale the challenges

Media release 7 Oct 2021 7 minute read

Students entering the 2021 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge have been commended for persevering throughout an often challenging school year.  

Nearly 2800 students in Years 5-12 from schools around Australia entered the competition to design and build an original video game, which this year had to address the theme ‘scale’. Winners in six categories defined by age group and game design platform will be showcased at gaming convention PAX Aus Online this weekend (8-10 October).

Established in 2014, the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge aims to engage students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Challenge manager and ACER Foundation Director Lisa Norris said this year’s entries showed incredible resilience and resourcefulness to complete their games in such a disrupted school year.

“Several teams mentioned in their submissions the challenges they had to overcome to collaboratively design and build a video game during a pandemic,” Ms Norris said.

“The fact that two of the six winning teams are from Melbourne, where there have been extensive periods of remote learning, demonstrates the problem-solving, creativity and collaboration skills that students can develop through game design.”

In their last biennial report on gaming in Australia, ‘Digital Australia 2020: The Power of Games’, the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) and Bond University found a quarter of parents surveyed in 2019 said their child had developed video games in school as part of their formal education. ACER’s Professor Pauline Taylor-Guy says since then, the move to remote learning created more opportunities for the use of digital technology and games in education.

“This year we have seen remarkable ways in which teachers and students have adapted to remote learning,” Professor Taylor-Guy said.

“While this has undoubtedly been challenging, digital technology and critical and creative thinking on the part of both learners and educators have generated major changes in the way we think about the where, what and how of learning.

“The educational benefits of the past 18 months include greater flexibility in curriculum implementation, collaboration within and across schools, an increased appetite for innovation, and recognition of the potential of digital technologies, including games in education, to provide a more individualised learning experience.”

The Australian STEM Video Game Challenge is coordinated by the charitable arm of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), the ACER Foundation. Sponsors and supporters of the 2021 Challenge include BigAnt StudiosCreative VicIGEARoccatScienceworks and PAX Aus, as well as universities, corporate partners and game developers.

Registrations for the 2022 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge open in early 2022. For more information, visit


Winners of the 2021 Australian STEM Video Game Challenge:

Years 5-8: Playable game – Open category

Team: ‘Mega Power Up!’ – Dylan W, Liam D and William

School: Richmond North Public School, NSW

Game title: Scalyze

Game description: This game is a platformer game with a unique twist. All the levels have portals scattered in them and you must use them to your advantage in order to beat the level. You can turn bigger, jump higher and move faster only if you go through a portal and transform into a bigger size.

Scalyze screenshot


Years 5-8: Playable game developed in GODOT

Team: ‘Jele’ – Elena C, Emily Q, Jessica L and Laura J

School: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, VIC

Game title: Scrapyard Escape

Game description: Our game is about a man called Nox, who wakes up in a scrapyard dazed. He has amnesia and does not remember what has happened before he woke up in the scrapyard, but he knows he needs to escape.

Scrapyard Escape screenshot


Years 5-8: Playable game developed in Scratch

Team: ‘Two Frames Per Second’ – Lily M, Mary M, Scarlett H and Eunice O

School: West End State School, QLD

Game title: Arachnophobia

Game description: A text adventure style game (similar to choose your own adventure) with occasional "mini games" that the player will have to beat to progress. The game takes place in a secret cave system underneath main character Lemon Boy's backyard.

Arachnophobia screenshot


Years 9-12: Playable game – Open category

Team: Unidentified Inc. – Henry R, Nicholas T and Zach W

School: The Knox School, VIC

Game title: Space Blob Advance

Game description: This game is about a character who breaks through levels of the Earth to gain access to the Underworld. To get through each level of Earth, the character starts as a small blob and gains mass.


Years 9-12: Playable game developed in GODOT

Team: ‘studio tromboon’ – Jason D and Joseph N

School: Perth Modern School, WA

Game title: Global Scale

Game description: The objective of the game is to gain the 7 orbs by completing puzzles centred around 7 mechanics, in order to complete a major scale and restore music to your islands.

Global Scale screenshot


Years 9-12: Playable game developed in Unity & Unreal

Team: ‘Soulcube’ – Maxwell A and Jade S

School: Lumen Christi Catholic College, NSW

Game title: Murus

Game description: Murus (the Latin word for ‘wall’) sees players traverse a plethora of unique levels by scaling walls, with a ‘floor is lava’ death system. Players must collect all the magical orbs as fast as they can in order to progress through the variety of stages.

Murus screenshot


Media enquiries:

ACER Communications
+61 419 340 058

Notes to media:

  • Links to playable versions of winning games are available from the Challenge's PAX Aus Online exhibitor page.
  • For media comment from winning teams/schools please contact the schools directly.

Transport and Accessibilty

Transport Accessibility Strategy

The Victorian Government is working to ensure our public transport network is inclusive and accessible for all Victorians.

In Victoria, 1.1 million people have either a physical or non-physical disability. Our ageing population and those with other mobility barriers also need accessibility support on the transport network.  

We’re developing a Transport Accessibility Strategy to improve accessibility for everyone across the transport network. 

The strategy will identify and prioritise accessibility enhancements across the network. 

Inclusion and diversity

The Department of Transport is committed to advancing an inclusive workplace culture where our people are safe, diverse, engaged, valued and high performing.

This will enable us to deliver an integrated transport system that supports Victorians from all walks of life to have simple, safe, connected journeys.

In order to support this focus and commitment, the Department of Transport (DoT) has developed and launched an integrated DoT Inclusion & Diversity Strategy 2020-2023.

Affordability and availability are important elements of the public transport system. Victorians who are unable to afford a ticket or access transport services might be prevented from accessing employment, educational and social opportunities.

A number of concessions are available to assist Senior Victorians, students, people on low incomes and people with special needs. For more information, see Free travel passes or concession fares.

There are also services and support to enable everyone to feel more confident in using public transport. Use the links below for information about accessible transport in Melbourne and Victoria:

Health Care

Digital Video Content

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National Library of Medicine

BMC Medicine

Option A – Smoking

Option B – Exercise

Option C – Caffeine

Google Scholar


The ProQuest platform makes hundreds of full text and A&I (Abstracts & Indexes) collections available to researchers around the world. The ProQuest Platform hosts multidisciplinary content containing scholarly journals, books, video & audio, dissertations & theses, newspapers and more. More on the Content page.

In addition, researchers will benefit from robust information management and workflow tools and functionality integrated into the platform, like the ability to cite results in numerous citation styles, save as a PDF or other document formats, save searches, and export documents to reference management tools like RefWorks.

Content discovery is an integral part of the ProQuest platform’s goal of driving better research outcomes for subscribing organizations and their users. An organization's ProQuest content is discoverable through Summon and Ex Libris Primo Central. You can also link to ProQuest from Google Scholar and PubMed. When available, researchers can find and use their organization's ProQuest ebook holdings alongside their ProQuest platform database content. Similarly, Academic Video Online (AVON) subscribers can also now discover and use their video content while searching the ProQuest platform databases or even selecting to search AVON on its own within the ProQuest platform. For more information, visit the Surfacing ebooks and video content on the ProQuest PlatformAdministrator Resources and Support Center Articles sections below.

Basic Search

Objectives of this session: Identify features that help provide effective and rapid searches; Discover options for resetting to a collection or subject areas; Locate commonly available search fields and operators. Duration: 5 minutes.

Search Strategy Tips

Objectives of this session: Incorporate search syntax into queries; Employ logical operators and proximity to focus a search query; 
Use truncation to efficiently incorporate word variations in a search. Duration: 7 minutes.

Description: This recorded session provides tips for using powerful search syntax to add precision to the search queries. Duration: 24 Minutes

Publication Search


Recent programmes from ABCIview and SBS to support solution 3D, Biodegradable Plastics, Recycling, Coding, Technology

Meet the teen who invented color-changing stitches to prevent fatal infections

After teaching herself how to stitch sutures, Dasia Taylor wanted to make them better. Her color changing stitches could prevent fatal infections.

The Tipping Point | Veena Sahajwalla


Introduced by War on Waste host Craig Reucassel

Scientist Veena Sahajwalla is a recycling superstar with some bold new ideas about how to save waste from landfill. 

As Australia's collective garbage guilt builds alongside the tonnes of plastic piling up in recycling depots, her innovative inventions may offer some exciting new solutions.

Inspired walking the streets of her Mumbai neighbourhood as a child, Veena observed almost everything was reused and "nothing was wasted". 

This can-do attitude shaped her engineering career and sowed the seeds for some ground-breaking ideas, including making steel from car tyres.

Now she's unveiling her latest invention, a "micro factory" that creates building materials and tiles from dumped clothes and glass. 

It’s a revolutionary concept. But will it work outside the lab?

Related links

Report | CSIRO: A circular economy roadmap for plastics, tyres, glass and paper in Australia

Watch this episode on Youtube

Stream this episode on iview

Image collections

Women in STEM




STEM MAD is designed to acknowledge and promote STEM learning initiatives that address real-world problems and demonstrate how students in Catholic schools take action that matters. Student teams are invited to design a product, service or innovation to Make A Difference (MAD) to others or the environment

Library Technician

Paraphrasing in own words

For further information please see Research Skills tab on this libguide

Climate Change

Encyclopaedia Brittanica explores the major greenhouse gases.

The atmosphere surrounds our planet like the peel of an orange. But it’s not the same everywhere. It has different layers with different qualities.

Taking our planet's temperature. 
Signs of a global warming fever, or just noise?

Information from the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

Latest trends and developments from the Summit.

Many scientists claim that the surface temperatures of the Earth have not increased since 1988.

Understanding the climate system


Storm Damage

The Climate Council regularly publishes groundbreaking research reports on issues such as extreme weather, climate solutions, health, coal closure and international action. Our reports are used as an authoritative source of information for briefing politicians, providing updates to health and emergency services, teaching resources for schools and universities and as background research for the media.

Protecting homes and other buildings from the effects of storms is a complex challenge.

Building codes are important in the design and construction of buildings to help them resist the ravages of natural disasters. Information in this page



Learn about thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, lightning, floods, damaging winds and severe winter weather. What is a wall cloud? What's the difference between a watch and a warning? Is it ever “too cold to snow”?

looks at the building codes, and also at other factors that influence the protection of homes. 


There are a variety of types of damaging winds formed by different thunderstorm processes, but thunderstorms produce some straight-line winds when the thunderstorm downdraft hits the ground and flows outward. Anyone living in thunderstorm-prone areas of the world is at risk for experiencing this phenomenon. Winds can cause damage when they reach 50 mph.


Types of Damaging Wind Events

We are working on simulations of derecho events, widespread, long-lived windstorms that are associated with bands of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Derechos can produce widespread straight-line winds up to 100 mph over long periods of time. Our simulations allow us to dissect the storms that produce derechos to better understand how to forecast and warn for them.

Damaging Wind Evolution

A macroburst is a an outburst of strong winds on or near the ground with horizontal dimensions of 4 km or greater, while a microburst is an outburst of strong winds with horizontal dimensions less than 4 km. Macro and microburst winds, known as downbursts, can cause significant damage. Microbursts are a concern for forecasters because of their rapid onset and noted relevance for aircraft safety. It is difficult for a forecaster to anticipate which storm will produce a microburst. NSSL's dual-polarized mobile Doppler radar is used to collect data on microbursts and dust storms to compare with the Phoenix NWS dual-polarization radar data. NSSL and the NWS hope combining both data sets will reveal clues about their existence. NSSL also uses the Multifunction Phased Array Radar to capture the evolution of damaging wind mechanisms when thunderstorms are within 70 miles of the radar.

Predicting Damaging Winds

NSSL developed an algorithm in collaboration with Arizona's Salt River Project (SRP) to alert the power company of the potential for a dust storm called a haboob. A haboob is a wall of dust that is pushed out along the ground from a thunderstorm downdraft at high speeds. The algorithm runs on NSSL's Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system and automatically monitors the radar for thunderstorms reaching thresholds that could result in outflows producing strong surface winds and blowing dust. When thresholds are reached, SRP operational personnel receive an alert to prepare for the impact of wind loading on SRP power poles and substations.

While radar remains the number one tool for forecasters evaluating storms, lightning data may be able to provide additional clues because electrical charge generation in the storm updraft and ice microphysics are linked. NSSL is working to provide a physical understanding how three-dimensional lightning data may be used by forecasters for microburst or downburst prediction. Due to the rapid updates and high spatial resolution of both the phased array radar and the Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (LMA), both of these systems are able to capture the quick generation and evolution of microbursts.


Bow Echo and MCV Experiment (BAMEX)

BAMEX (Bow Echo and MCV Experiment) was a field experiment involving scientists from NSSL, NCAR, the NWS and OU that was designed to gather data to understand bow echoes and their resulting high damaging surface winds. The mobile project tried to understand and improve prediction of mesoscale and storm-scale processes that produce severe winds in bowing convective systems lasting at least four hours. The project used aircraft and mobile ground-based instruments to map the thermodynamic and environmental structure of thunderstorm complexes and mature mesoscale convective vortices.


An NSSL scientist studied low-altitude “mesovortices,” (atmospheric spin on the scale of a few km to several hundred km) and learned that they may be the one of the causes of damaging straight-line winds. These results helped motivate the objectives for the BAMEX program defined above.

Damaging Downburst Prediction and Detection Algorithm (DDPDA)

To help NWS forecasters, NSSL developed the Damaging Downburst Prediction and Detection Algorithm using radar-detectable features. The DDPDA works best predicting the onset of damaging downburst winds from high-reflectivity storm cells that develop in an environment of weak vertical shear.