Santa Sabina wins Sydney science competition

Four Year 8 students from Santa Sabina College have won Best High School in the School Science Project Competition run by the NSW Health Department’s Sydney Local Health District.

The competition encourages students to get thinking about what it means to be healthy. The theme was: Imagine. Transform. Lead. The students – Joanna Benedict, Sonya Jayatillake, Sophia Witting and Victoria Kim – chose to focus on emotional health with their research entitled “How does Music Affect the Brain?”.

They presented their research methods and conclusions at the Sydney Innovation and Research Symposium – a large gathering of health professionals – on Friday 22 June and were presented with a $5000 prize for Santa Sabina. Their data showed that those who play or listen to music were better equipped to handle stress and anxiety than those who do not.

The students said there were many healthy initiatives at Santa, including for mental health. As well as being part of Sydney University’s Compassionate Brain program, they said that “every Friday our school would play a song on the speaker at the end of the day. This is to create a positive and happy vibe at the end of each school week.”

Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District Dr Teresa Anderson said Santa Sabina’s entry was a standout because it utilised survey data collection, a research method commonly used by scientists and researchers.

“The students demonstrated real understanding of how research works”, Dr Anderson said.

“They proposed a hypothesis, they devised a method to test that hypothesis, and they were able to prove it to be true.”

“I was impressed by how the students focused on an issue particularly important to their peer group, which is how to manage stress and anxiety in daily life.”

“I think there’s a few budding scientists in Santa Sabina and perhaps in a few years’ time we’ll be hearing their names as part of a big breakthrough or announcement in the world of health and medical research.”