Queensland Science Contest

The following information is taken from handouts provided by the University of Queensland.

Go straight to the contact information

Background and Aims

The Queensland Science Contest is an annual event organised by the Science Teachers Association of Queensland (STAQ). The contest is open to all Queensland students from preschool to year 12, and is judged across 5 age divisions. Students may enter their projects in one of 5 categories. They may also nominate to be considered for up to 2 bursary awards, provided their project topic is relevant to the particular bursary. Representatives from scientific and educational organisations will judge the projects. There are three main aims of this contest.

  1. To stimulate an ongoing interest in the study of science by:
    • encouraging students of all ages to participate in the process of self-motivated project work;
    • giving all students of Queensland the opportunity to communicate their passion and understanding of science to a wider audience; and
    • according recognition of effort and achievement to students who participate;
  2. To promote the direct involvement of Queensland students in the processes and communication of science; and
  3. To celebrate in the wider community the exemplary science currently being carried out by Queensland students.

Conditions of Entry

  • Failure to meet all entry deadlines may result in disqualification of the entry.
  • Entries meet the safety standards as described in the Contest Handbook.
  • Entries must be mailed or delivered to the contest venue as outlined in the Contest Handbook.
  • Entries must be collected on Saturday 26 October 2002 between 2.30 and 4.00 PM unless other arrangements have been made. No responsibility can be taken for projects not collected at this time.
  • No responsibility can be taken for loss or damage whilst the entry is on display.
  • Models and inventions may contain commercially available components such as switches, motors, meters, etc, however entries must not have been solely assembled from, or based on, commercially produced kits.
  • Entries must not breach Copyright regulations.
  • A reflective journal is to be submitted with your entry.
  • Acknowledgement of any assistance received is to be noted in your reflective journal.

Safety Considerations

Students and their supervising teachers or parents should ensure that their science entries are conducted in a responsible and safe manner. For example:

  • Any study involving experiments on living animals must be carefully considered to ensure that the animal(s) are properly cared for.
  • Projects involving microorganisms will only be accepted if adequate safety precautions are evident and the microorganisms present no threat to the health of individuals or the environment.
  • Projects involving blood or other body fluids will only be accepted if they have been carried out under strict medical supervision.
  • Projects involving explosives, rocket fuels, detrimental to the environment, or potentially harmful to individuals will not be accepted.
  • All electrical experiments should not be in excess of 32 volts AC or 115 volts DC.

Entrants who are unsure as to whether their project complies with the safety considerations should contact the STAQ office for clarification before submitting their entry for judging.

Important Dates

Entry forms and payment are due at the STAQ office by Friday 20 September 2002.

Individual entries mailed to the STAQ office must be received by Friday 11 October 2002. Schools wishing to mail entries should contact the STAQ office at least one week prior to the due date for instructions about mailing of the entries.

Individual entries delivered to the judging venue must be received by 12 noon, Saturday 19 October 2002.

Bulk school entries delivered to the judging venue must be received between 2-4 PM Friday 18 October 2002 or 9.00 AM - 12 noon Saturday 19 October 2002.

Judging of entries will occur on Saturday 19 October 2002.

The Presentation of Awards will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 26 September 2002.

Entries must be collected on Saturday 26 October 2002 between 2.30 AM and 4 PM or you must provide a postage paid self-addressed envelope/box clearly marked and provided with your entry. Schools with large groups of entries should contact the STAQ office if they are unable to collect their entries. Uncollected entries will not be kept by STAQ.

Other science activities for students

The Science Teachers Association of Queensland coordinates a range of other student activities including UQ Environmental Awards and The Siemens Science Experience. Further information about these activities is available on the STAQ website

Projects completed as part of the CSIRO CREST Awards may be entered in the Queensland Science Contest. Alternatively, projects entered in the Queensland Science Contest may be suitable to be entered in other science competitions such as BHP Science Awards. Students entering any science contest are advised to make copies of their report prior to submitting it for judging, in the event that the entry is lost or damaged.

SPECTRA Awards is an ongoing scheme designed to be used by students either at home on a self-timed basis or for class based projects. For more information about SPECTRA, contact the Australian Science Teachers Association - (02) 6282 9377 or email

Types of awards and prizes

Individuals and groups of 2 or 3 students may submit an entry. Entries will be judged across 5 categories and five age divisions:

Age divisions:Division1Years P-3
Division 2Years 4-6
Division 3Years 7-8
Division 4Years 9-10
Division 5Years 11-12


Entries must be relevant to one of the 5 categories listed below. For details about each category, refer to the Specific Category Information. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each age division for each of the 5 categories (providing entries are of a suitable quality).

  • Classified Collections
  • Research Investigations
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Models and Inventions
  • Mathematical Investigations


1Years P - 3$50$30$15
2Years 4 - 6$50430$15
3Years 7 - 8$75$50$25
4Years 9 - 10$75$50$25
5Years 11 - 12$100$60$30

A Certificate of Participation will be available to all students who enter the Queensland Science Contest. These may be collected when entries are delivered to the judging venue. If you wish the certificate to be posted, you must include a stamped, self-addressed A4 size envelope with the entry.


Bursaries are awards for entries that address a specific area of science or a range of topics as nominated by the organisation or individual donating the award. Students should refer to the 2002 Bursary Awards for information about the types of projects that may be suitable for each bursary. Students may nominate to be considered for up to 2 bursaries in addition to one of the 5 categories listed above.

Prizes will be awarded to the best entry or entries relevant to each bursary as judged by a representative of the organisation donating the prize. As new bursaries may be donated between now and the contest closing date, students should refer to the latest list of bursaries available on the STAQ website.

University of Queensland - Young Scientist of the Year

The overall winner of the Queensland Science Contest across all age divisions will receive the Young Scientist of the Year award. This cash award and prize is sponsored by the University of Queensland, Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences and Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture.

University of Queensland - Environmental Award

Several prizes to a total value of $400 will be awarded for the best projects across all age divisions in the area of Environmental Science.

More bursaries will be added to this page as they are confirmed.

Descriptions of Categories

Classified Collections

What to do:

Plan and organise a collection of items that demonstrate or promote scientific principles or concepts. Research relevant information about the specimens and present it all in an interesting and informative manner. Be aware that there are a number of protected species and protected areas in Queensland where collecting is prohibited - even dead things. They are protected because they are valuable. Ensure that collected specimens are not listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as protected species or collected from a protected area. Check the Environmental Protection Agency website. The Queensland Museum can also advise on protected species. A reflective journal should be kept and submitted with your entry.

What makes a winning entry?

Well preserved and presented specimens with clearly set out research. Winning entries explain how the specimens have been organised, and where appropriate refer to accepted systems of classification. The best entries are organised in a logical way, have clear explanations about the specimens and the way they are organised, and make clear links to the scientific principles or concepts they demonstrate.

Research Investigations

What to do:

Choose any topic, there are no restrictions. Decide on a problem and ask what, why, and how questions, do some reading on the topic, and discuss your ideas. Design and perform an investigation to gather information about the problem. Present a report to tell others what you did and what you found out. A reflective journal should be kept and submitted with your entry.

What makes a winning entry?

Interesting topics, and clearly set out research. Winning entries explain why the problem is important to investigate; how it is possible to find a solution to the problem and how you went about finding a solution to the problem. The report includes details of the observations, measurements and anything unexpected that happened; what the results or the research mean; ideas on how the research could be modified next time, and excellent presentation.

Information & Communication Technology

What to do:

Research a scientific principle or concept and then design a website or PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the principle or concept. Entries will be judged on their design and use of multimedia and navigation technology.

Your entry must include a written report (max length 500 words) describing:

  • How you collected the information
  • How it was assembled
  • the difficulties you experienced
  • Programs you have used to create your website or PowerPoint presentation

A reflective journal should be kept and submitted with your entry.

You can use graphics, video, sound and animations. Your uncompressed file should be no larger than 4.2MB (3 standard floppy disks). Compression using zip utilities is not permitted.

All work must be on your own - no materials with copyright to other persons are permitted. STAQ retains the right to use and/or publish any materials entered in this category. This includes publication on the STAQ website, in a Journal, newsletter or as a component of a workshop.

What makes a winning entry?

Clear documentation and a strong link to science is required. Requirements include a comprehensive journal/report describing the design and process used to create the entry. This may include using new software for the first time or seeking advice from a more experienced person/s.

Models & Inventions

What to do:

Research a scientific principle or concept and then design and build a model or invention that is an original interpretation of that principle or concept. Create a poster to accompany the entry that documents how the model or invention was built, what problems were encountered and how they were overcome, and an explanation of the scientific principle or concept that is demonstrated. A reflective journal should be kept and submitted with your entry.

What makes a winning entry?

Unique and interesting models and inventions with clearly set out supporting information. Winning entries show resourcefulness and are innovative scale models, information models or original inventions. They are sturdy and easy to use, and clearly demonstrate the scientific principles or concepts intended. The best entries make clear links to the stated purpse, are safe, interesting, and informative.

Mathematical Investigations

What to do:

Projects can be on any mathematical topic and may be presented in a variety of forms such as:

  • Written report, story, play or poem
  • Written as a booklet, brochure, diary
  • Poster
  • Video
  • Model
  • Game
  • Computer disc

Students are encouraged to investigate a particular theme following normal class lessons in a particular area. An excursion to the Zoo, museum, or historical village could provide a useful source of ideas and motivation for projects. Current events or special celebrations such as the International Year of the Volunteer or Centenary of Federation may also prove a starting point. Students could choose to investigate the mathematical concept of a specific interest eg. maths in basketball, budgeting for a holiday. All material in the entry should be original or otherwise acknowledged in the appropriate manner.

What makes a winning entry?

Suitability of topic, clarity of question posed, range, depth and integration of mathematical concepts and processes; communication; creativity and originality; the extent to which the conclusions answer the question and presentation.

The winning entry in each Division will be submitted as the Queensland entries in the National Mathematics Talent Quest in October. Divisions for the National competition are as follows: (Years 1-4) (Years 5-7) (Year 8) (Years 9-10) (Years 11-12). Permission forms for entries to be forwarded to the National Mathematics Talent Quest will be sent to winning students in each division to complete.

Some ideas to get you started

  • Investigate how shampoo affects hair
  • Identify a locality where erosion is a problem and investigate effective ways to reduce the problem
  • Investigate why earthquakes are more likely to occur in some places than others
  • Use a PowerPoint presentation to explain the differences between digital and analog mobile telephones
  • Design a website to effectively communicate the science involved in safe food preparation
  • Use a website to communicate how human activities affect the Great Barrier Reef
  • Use a PowerPoint presentation to clearly and concisely explain genetic engineering
  • Explore the concept of gravity through a website
  • Design and make a device, which makes life easier for a person who is physically impaired
  • Make a collection of riparian plants, which clearly distinguishes between native and introduced species
  • Use a website to explore the pros and cons of biological and chemical control of pests
  • Design a model or PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate the process of metamorphosis
  • Some washing powders dissolve faster in hot water than in cold. Does this mean they wash clothes any better?
  • Make a collection of flowers and examine the similarities and differences
  • Why is that some popcorn never pops? Make an hypothesis and then design a fair test
  • Does driving a car at 80km/hr rather than 100km/hr really reduce fuel consumption?
  • Many salad dressings contain oil and vinegar. How many ways can you find to make oil and vinegar into an emulsion?
  • Imagine you are an endangered animal. Develop an advertising campaign that states the facts about your plight
  • Work out how much energy there is in a candle
  • Analyse the food items in your kitchen to determine the most common ingredients in packaged food
  • Create a device to alert people when it is starting to rain so they can get the washing off of the line
  • Create a model to show how electrons flow through a wire
  • Investigate whether an audience improves the perfomance of an athlete
  • Compare the drip lines of local trees and relate this to environmental features

For more ideas:

Reflective Journal

  • A reflective journal should be kept as a record of what was completed on different days. It should contain evidence of scientific thought.
  • It is expected that the journal be a series of handwritten and sketched ideas, not typed.
  • A reflective journal helps the student make sense of their science learning.
  • Accurate and detailed notes of your findings, decisions and thought processes assist the project in becoming a winning entry.
  • Good notes show consistency and thoroughness to the judges.
  • Acknowledge any assistance received.

Judging Criteria

Judges will use the following criteria to judge entries. Not all criteria will apply to each category. Entries will be judged in one of 5 age divisions. The judges recognise that the format of entries within each category and between age divisions will vary considerably. Entrants should refer to the specific category or bursary information, in addition to the judging criteria when preparing their entries.

Conditions of entry and entry guidelines

  • Has the entry met the conditions of entry and the entry for the particular category as stated in the Contest Handbook? (safety standards, copyright, acknowledgements, inclusion of reflective journal, poster or report, appropriate length, etc)

Scientific Processes

  • Is the entry based on an innovative or creative investigation or study?
  • Does the entry present a complete picture of the whole scientific principle or concept being displayed?
  • Has data been confirmed by the use of scientific controls?
  • Is any experimental procedure effective and efficient?
  • Have results been correctly interpreted?
  • Is there adequate data to support the conclusions?
  • Do conclusions satisfy the aims of the project?
  • Have safety standards been met?
  • Does the journal/report reflect the scientific processes undertaken?


  • Is the preparation of any materials of an appropriate standard?
  • Does any device, model or invention work as described?
  • Have appropriate materials been used in construction?
  • Does the project make good use of available technology?


  • Is the aim of the project clearly stated?
  • Is the entry visually appealing?
  • Is the information well organised and readable?
  • Has the use of illustrations been appropriate?
  • Have sources of information been acknowledged?
  • Are the concepts/ideas expressed clearly and concisely?

Group Projects

  • Is there evidence that all group members have contributed?

Entry Checklist

Entry forms & fees

Entry forms and payment must be posted to the STAQ Office to be received by Friday 20 September 2002. Please do not fax entry forms as they must be accompanied by payment. Note that entry forms are due 4 weeks before the actual entries. (Entry forms for mailed entries are due 3 weeks before the actual entries.) Projects do not need to be submitted before entry forms are submitted. The entry fee for individual entries is $5.50 per student. Group entries (2 or 3 students) cost $11. The entry fee must accompany the entry form.

Preparing your entry

  • Entries must be labelled with:
    • Name(s): __________
    • School: __________
    • Division: __________
    • Category: __________
    • Bursary or bursaries: __________
  • If the entry consists of parts (which could be separated), label each part.
  • All entries must be accompanied by appropriate documentation as outlined in the specific category information.
  • All entries are to be accompanied by a reflective journal. The judges will also assess this component.
  • Students must keep a copy of their written work.


How to submit your entry

Individual entries can be mailed
to the STAQ Office provided they
arrive by Friday 11 October 2002.
The postal address is as listed in
the Correspondence section.

Entries can be delivered to the judging venue between certain times. The address is:
The UQ Centre
The University of QLD - St Lucia Campus
Union Road
St Lucia
The entry form and payment
should be in an envelope on the outside of the package.
Parking is available at the University.


Judging of entries

Entries will be judged on Saturday 19 October 2002. Entries will be held at the University of Queensland (St Lucia Campus) until the presentation of awards on Saturday 26 October 2002.

Notification of winning entries

Students with winning entries will be notified by mail before Friday 25 October 2002, and will be personally invited to attend the presentation of awards.

Collection of entries

Entries must be collected from the judging venue on Saturday 26 October 2002 between 2.30 PM and 4 PM. Individual students who wish their entry to be returned by STAQ, must include a fully addressed postage paid post pack. STAQ cannot take responsibility for packaging up and returning large groups of entries. A representative from the school should make arrangements to collect their student's entries.


STAQ Queensland Science Contest
C/- School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
QUT Kelvin Grove Campus
Victoria Park Road
Phone / Fax: (07) 3864 3340

Check the STAQ website for the handbook and Entry Form: