Some teachers are pricks, and then some

12 09 2010

A simple investigation experiment looking at the pH of blood at a Tasmanian high school has turned into a biohazard scare after teacher somehow thought sharing needles would be totally fine for adolescent boys. In some muddled form of defence the teacher did “attempt to sterilise the needle with methylated spirits between tests.” (Methylated spirits its not really suitable for sterilizing).

Pretty much any official is saying that this was a major balls up by the teacher, and I’m finding hard to believe that with all the red tape (in the for of occupational health and safety) present in Australian workplaces these days, that this investigation was ever approved. I have no problem with hands on experiments. In fact, I think these should be encouraged. On top of that, if we expect to have smart and scientifically literate graduates from high school, experiments involving potential biohazards should be allowed. However (or even because of that) it still very important to recognise that risks are involved and the appropriate precautions be taken.

Do read the comments on The Mercury article too.

There seems to be some sections of the world who are somehow thinking that the teacher has not done anything wrong, because there are no schoolboys in Tasmania with bloodborne infectious disease. Perhaps they could do well to investigate the Health and Ageing website which show that historically (prior to vaccinations) they have been one of the highest risk groups for Hepatitis (which is probably the largest worry in this instance, rather than HIV). Blood-borne transmission is probably the number one risk that health organisations try to minimize to prevent the spread of disease.

The wallabies are wasted

29 06 2009

You’ve probably all heard it by now. Tasmanian wallabies are getting wasted in poppy fields and creating crop circles.

I was gonna blog this way back in last week. But then I had a farewell from work, a farewell from friends, social lounge, someone else’s farewell, clean, pack, uniquest, and then today I had to scramble to unpack and scan identifying documents in the vain hope of proving that I can afford to pay for potential accomodation (I can… I hope).

But man… those wallabies… that is awesome.

I wonder if that means there may be a grant out there on doing some studies on marsupials and drugs/addiction?

Image credit: mrmanc on flickr (CC by attribution & share-alike)

And the song goes on

11 10 2008

Something I learned doing research with endangered Australian marsupials was that Australia has the worst record on history as far as extinctions of major animal species.

This doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

At least my Australian European-ness can feel a little less self conscious – it seems its been that way since humans started arriving on this island.

Particularly Tasmania.

Which is still very depressing. Tasmania’s island of an island status means it does have some of the more interesting ecosystem inhabitants. With creatures like the Tasmanian devil not found anywhere else anymore.

Human arrivals to isolated islands – such as Mauritias and New Zealand – has seen severe eco-damage throughout history.

There is also a feature on this research in this month’s Australasian Science.

Taking the piss out of dingoes

22 09 2008

…and spraying it over Tasmania’s new growth forests.

Now this is an interesting “weird” science story. Dingo urine has been chosen as an innovative natural marsupial repellant.

But what sort of threat do kangaroos pose to lumberjacks and pulp mills exactly? Why is cyanide being used to kill native fauna in the first place?

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