SPIRIT (SPICE Physics ICRAR Remote Internet Telescope) provides WA school students with access to state‐of‐the-art robotic telescopes via the Internet.


For the past ten years the Centre for Learning Technology at UWA has supported science teachers through the SPICE program. Initially focussed on senior years chemistry and physics, the program has gradually expanded over the years to incorporate all strands of the Australian science curriculum, and year levels from 4 to 12.

Funding for SPICE ended earlier this year and we have been in ‘caretaker’ mode whilst the Department of Education assessed tenders for a new support program, Provision of Services for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Teaching Resources and Professional Learning (ED15106).… Continue reading

Introducing epigenetics

Introducing epigenetics is a talk delivered by Dr Jemma Berry, lecturer in the School of Medical Sciences at Edith Cowan University. Dr Berry’s talk is an engaging and insightful overview of this emerging and exciting area of molecular biology.  Dr Berry provides an easy to understand introduction to two major epigenetic modifications: histone modification and DNA methylation.

This presentation is also available in PowerPoint format with accompanying presenter notes.… Continue reading

Food webs app updated

Over 200 000 people have downloaded the first SPICE app for iPad/iPhone, Food webs. This has now been updated with a third environment, so students can build food webs for any of the following:

  • Kimberley
  • Herdsman Lake
  • Cottesloe Reef

The app can be downloaded for free from Apple’s app store.

I’ve been using this with my Yr 7/8 class for the past few years and felt it deserved a review.

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Electrical circuits

Target audience: year 11 physics

The SPICE resource, Electricity, was first released in 2010. It has now been substantially edited and updated to run on modern computers and tablets with better fit to WACE and Australian Curriculum physics.

This sequence starts by examining the role of electricity in lightning. Explorations of static and current electricity are followed by investigation of rules for simple circuits.… Continue reading

Bushfire science

Target audience: year 9 biology and chemistry

Principles of chemistry and biology are used to study impacts of fire on different regions of Western Australia. Different pathways through the material are provided for chemistry and biology teachers, or both may be taught in combination.

Fiery failures

Students watch a video that shows four examples of environmental damage related to combustion, caused by human activity.… Continue reading

Proteins (update)

Target audience: year 12 biology/human biology

The SPICE resource, Proteins, originally released in 2012 has had a major update. Dependencies on Java and Flash have been removed, so it should now run on modern computers and tablets more easily.… Continue reading

Water monitoring

Target audience: year 7 Earth and space sciences

This program focusses on importance of water, importance of groundwater, and how water quality is measured. The program is written for the Kimberley but is adaptable to other areas.

The resource contains five main sections:

Clean water

This section engages students’ interest in water by learning about the importance of fresh, clean water.

Water sources

This section encourages students to explore where drinking water comes from, by investigating aquifers.… Continue reading

Exploring the Solar System

Exploring the Solar System is a resource package that addresses the Year 5 Australian Curriculum science content for Earth and space sciences. It is designed to complement and supplement a Primary Connections resource, Earth’s place in space.

It emphasises use of modelling, including accurate scale representation, to convey difficult concepts of size, in the Solar System. Modelling is also used to describe relative position and motion; physical modelling of surface features and their creation; and use of digital (software) models to represent the Solar System and beyond.

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Photos from epigenetics workshop 3

Photos taken at the epigenetics workshop run by SPICE and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the Lotterywest BioDiscovery lab on 26 November 2015 (click on photos to enlarge)… Continue reading

Photos from epigenetics workshop 2

Photos taken at the epigenetics workshop run by SPICE and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the Lotterywest BioDiscovery lab on 23 November 2015 (click on photos to enlarge)… Continue reading

Polymers in the environment

A new SPICE resource, Polymers in the environment, is now available. The resource addresses content in unit 4 of the Australian Curriculum: Senior Secondary Chemistry relating to synthetic and natural polymers.

Extracts from this resource can be downloaded using the links below.

Polymers in the environment 2: Investigating polymers

Students synthesise and test properties of various polymers. A procedure to make polylactic acid is included.… Continue reading

Photos from epigenetics workshop 1

Photos taken at the epigenetics workshop run by SPICE and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the Lotterywest BioDiscovery lab on 12 November 2015 (click on photos to enlarge)… Continue reading

Energy transformations

Target audience: year 8 physical sciences

This resource examines energy transformations in the context of conventional and electric cars.

The resource contains four main sections:

Comparing cars

A video compares conventional internal combustion powered cars to REV vehicles and introduces some associated energy transformations.

Investigating energy

Students make model vehicles that use different energy sources to investigate energy transformations.

Analysing energy

Students develop explanations of energy transformations by analysing data from a simulated electric vehicle journey.… Continue reading

5-E model

The well known 5-E model underlies most SPICE resources as well as many other programs, such as Primary Connections.

  • Engage
  • Explore
  • Explain
  • Elaborate
  • Evaluate

A set of five A4 posters, suitable for classroom display, are available for download, or contact SPICE for a free set.… Continue reading

Epigenetics professional learning workshop

SPICE is pleased to announce our first Epigenetics professional learning workshop, designed for teachers of Year 11 and Year 12 biology and human biology, to be held at the LotteryWest BioDiscovery Centre at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research on Thursday 12 November.

Bookings may be made through the Events page of this website.… Continue reading

Photos from biotech professional learning day

Photos taken at the biotechnology professional learning day run by SPICE and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research at the Lotterywest BioDiscovery lab on 21 September 2015 (click on photos to enlarge)… Continue reading

TWITCH documentary

As a follow-up to the recent Huntingtons Forum, the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research is please to offer a special schools screening of the documentary, Twitch, between 9:30 and 11:30am on Friday 4 September. The documentary maker, Kristen Powers (from Canada) will be present to hold a Q & A session after the screening.

Bookings to Pauline Charman (pauline.charman@perkins.uwa.edu.au).… Continue reading

Science in the cinema 2015

Each year, the WA branch of the Australian Society for Medical research hosts a Science in the Cinema event. The aim of the event is to get students thinking and talking about science as it is portrayed in mainstream media. This year we are showing the movie “Lucy” about a woman who gains psychokinetic abilities from a nootropic drug being absorbed into her bloodstream.… Continue reading

Gene expression

Target audience: year 11/12 biology/human biology

We all contain the same genes, but what regulates their expression in one person but not another? These resources show how understanding of gene expression and regulation has improved our knowledge of disease.

The resource contains five main sections:

Melanoma risk factors

Students use an interactive learning object that describes six major risk factors for melanoma. This introduces the concept that melanoma, like all cancers, is a genetic disease.… Continue reading

Understanding special relativity

SPICE recently recorded a workshop on special relativity, presented by Matthew Young, that can be watched below. Matthew’s complete presentation may also be viewed online.

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