Let’s Torque is a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) communication skills development initiative that runs a public speaking competition for undergraduate students. In 2017, a group of students in Monash University’s Global Challenges course (BSc Honours) launched a dynamic program that is now run by and for students from all universities across the state. Our thanks to all participants for stepping up for this year’s locked-down competition!
Welcome to Let’s Torque, a SciComm organisation for undergraduates, where you can participate in trivia events against other universities, attend state-of-the-art immersive workshops, and see SciComm like never before! Check out our newly opened Public Speaking competition (where you can compete for prize money and other winnings!), which has kickstarted the careers of many past competitors.
Human activities have released significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, the more carbon dioxide emitted, the warmer our planet becomes. Partly mitigating these impacts, plants recover 30% of atmospheric carbon via photosynthesis. Using energy from the Sun, they combine carbon dioxide with water to form sugar and oxygen. When the chemical reaction is reversed, carbon returns to the atmosphere – either by cellular respiration in plants and animals, or the burning of coal, wood, or gasoline. Soil scientist Dr Samantha Grover explains that one way of preventing carbon dioxide from returning to the atmosphere is keeping it sequestered in the ground. In fact, there is two-to-three times more carbon in soil than in the atmosphere.
Consistent with the theme of “Possible Impossibles”, six undergraduate students presented STEM solutions to global challenges in the Let’s Torque Grand Finals for National Science Week. The finalists aimed to bridge the gap between researhcers and society by communicating innovative STEM developments to the general public. RSV Councillor Rob Gell delivered the keynote address. Coincidentally, the day of the Let’s Torque Grand Final, 22nd August, was Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date that our demand for nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. To Rob, conserving our remaining natural assets is a top priority. “Business as usual” simply does not work. Everyone wants things to be better, but it is difficult to find momentum to change our individual behaviours. We need a lust for change, and that is what Rob aims to inspire. With their energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, the six Let’s Torque finalists will be agents of change too.
As an animator, most of Dr Drew Berry’s days are spent reading scientific literature and going on long walks to think about what he reads while his computer runs tasks. There is a great deal of data on cellular processes, however the full story is often scattered among multiple studies and papers (i.e. all the details of one machine complex may be comprised of multiple proteins that work together, and each is described individually). Dr Berry therefore has to piece the jigsaw puzzle together to show the big picture while keeping the smaller details accurate. He also has to make artistic choices that may not always reflect the science of what’s going on. Colour is not relevant at the cellular and molecular levels; but he uses it in his animations to evoke moods and emotions, allowing him to better engage his audiences and also make it easier to distinguish between different components and processes of a cell.