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Student stories

Rami - Exercise, diet and weight loss

If Rami Zahr had his Year 12 experience over, he says he would start his exam revision earlier and make a greater effort to exercise - a theme that also helped inspire his Research Project topic.

"My personal struggle with weight, and the role that exercise and diet played in my weight loss, influenced my final decision when it came to a research topic," Rami says.

"Although on my own journey, I had found some helpful resources, they lacked simplicity and sufficient information on what foods to eat and which workouts would aid weight loss.

"In conducting my Research Project on To what extent do food and exercise aid and sustain effective weight loss? I intended to inspire those leading unhealthy lifestyles to make long-term, healthy lifestyle changes."

The Hope Valley student says the Research Project enhanced his ability to effectively analyse sources to determine their relevance and authenticity.

"The most important aspect for me was the process of critically analysing my own work," he says.

"In doing this, I was able to identify areas that I could make improvements to and I utilised these skills when I undertook investigation folios in other subjects such as Physics and Chemistry.

"I believe this will further assist me during my studies at university, where you need to learn to be independent," Rami says.

In regards to exam revision, Rami says those undertaking Year 12 should start the process as early as possible to identify subject areas causing them difficulty, and invest more time in them.

Despite initially having some doubt over whether he had secured adequate grades to undertake a double degree in civil and structural engineering and finance, Rami was extremely "excited and delighted" when he received his results. He achieved a subject Merit in Physics and a Governor of South Australia Commendation.

In addition to his studies, Rami organized an outreach program to educate fellow students about the difficulties faced by refugees in detention.

Thinking back on his SACE experience, Rami says: "I believe it has allowed me to develop numerous capabilities that will assist me in my future study and career path.

"These capabilities include personal development, communication and citizenship and self-confidence. In completing the Research Project, I believe that I have developed my communication skills.

"Additionally, it taught me to show initiative to creative new methods of handling and overcoming difficulties."

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Laura - The ethics of puppy farming

As a dog-owner, Laura Pemberton has quickly developed a nose for gathering and analysing information.

Her Research Project related to the ethics of puppy farming.

"This was of personal interest to me because I own Labrador Retrievers and enter them in shows," she said.

Laura said one of the benefits of the Research Project is students can advance their knowledge in an area of personal interest.

"You can take your project further and it can open up new opportunities. I sent my report to Ministers responsible for legislative reforms in animal welfare. They have since asked if I would be interested in writing an article regarding breeding practices.

"For me, the Research Project teaches you to think outside the box and extend yourself beyond your comfort zone."

One of Laura's key tips is to keep a detailed journal. "Record everything you do - ideas, communications, and analyse sources as you go. I also kept all the evidence of my chosen capability in one section."

She also encouraged students to seek support from their teachers. "Problems inevitably arise, such as with methodology design. By asking for advice, I overcame problems such as primary source bias and ensuring random sampling."

Laura is now weighing up a career with South Australia Police or further studies in justice or law.

"I now have a greater understanding of the importance of ethics. These skills will be invaluable to me in the future, both personally and professionally."

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Andrew - How to build an electric guitar

When Andrew Vonow started exploring a topic for his Research Project he decided to tune into some of his extracurricular interests.

"I had always loved doing Design and Technology as a subject, and after a friend built a longboard in his Research Project the year prior, the idea of doing something similar was quite appealing," Andrew says.

"But what would I build? The solution for me was simple. As I had been strumming away on my acoustic guitar for the past five years, but didn't own an electric guitar, I made the decision to investigate how to build one.

"When I finished my Year 12 exams I used my research notes to actually build it."

The Crystal Brook student says undertaking the Research Project provided him with new life-long skills.

"I was challenged to engage in in-depth analysis of the sourced information and analyse what that would mean for my project - something I hadn't ever done much of before," he says.

"The most valuable and helpful skill I further developed was in the area of effective communication.

"Through the research process I became more confident in approaching other people, whether via email, phone or in person, to gather and investigate the information applicable to my research."

Reflecting on his achievements over the past year, which included a Merit in Specialist Mathematics, Andrew says the SACE experience helped him grow in a variety of areas.

"Three of my biggest areas of development have been in time-management, self-motivation and communication," he says.

"This year was a very busy year and I had to be intentional about scheduling time for studies, school leadership, sport, music, leading and participating in other community events and the relationships with my family and friends.

"Also, I was not accountable to anyone for being on task, so I had to be self-motivated to get work done. Often this year, having self-motivation made the difference.

"These valuable skills will all be beneficial for me in the future, especially as I move into further study and work."

With an interest in both engineering and medicine, Andrew plans to pursue a Masters of Biomedical Engineering.

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Pursuing a Research Project topic she was passionate about, and aligned to her career ambitions, helped open up new networks and unexpected sources of inspiration for Alison Burford.

The Paralowie student's topic was: To what extent can an Accredited Exercise Physiologist assist in minimising the effects of cancer-related fatigue?

"For the past two years, it has been my dream to become accredited in prescribing exercise to prevent and treat diseases and injuries," Alison says.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the Research Project. I had the opportunity to contact medical professionals within the field of study I wish to enter, which had the potential to serve as a great source of networking for future advice, university placements and job opportunities."

Apart from her parents, friends and swimming coach, Alison found motivation to achieve her study goals in other areas.

"I met several Clinical Exercise Physiologists while investigating my topic; their enthusiasm for the profession inspired me to strive for the best grades possible to achieve the ATAR required."

When it came to study-related challenges, Alison says one of the biggest issues she had to overcome was allocating time between different subjects.

"I would sometimes push aside certain tasks to focus on the subjects I enjoyed the most such as Biology and the Research Project. Rather than serve any benefit, this just put me behind in other subjects," she says.

"Throughout Year 12, the biggest personal challenge was to achieve a balance between schoolwork, sporting commitments and social justice activities, all of which are very important to me."

Alison represented her school at the World Vision Conference in Adelaide and also participated in a Youth Advisory Group on cyber safety during 2014.

She now plans to undertake a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of South Australia.

Alison says the degree will provide her with the opportunity to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist - a recognised allied health professional.

"My ultimate goal is to make the specialised service available to members of the community who would otherwise be unable to access this type of healthcare," Alison says.

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Jay - Improving motorcycle protective gear in South Australia

While attaining his motorcycle licence, Jay Dyer was instilled with the importance of rider safety.

For his Research Project topic he investigated how motorcycle protective gear should be improved in South Australia.

"Motorcycles have been a personal interest of mine since I was very young. Getting my license has made this grow significantly," he said.

"When first starting the Research Project I was a bit negative about it but, as I progressed, I realised the subject gave me the chance to explore my passion."

Jay advises other students to choose a topic they enjoy but are not expert in, as this will help push their learning boundaries. He also says it is important to be disciplined when addressing your chosen topic.

"Keeping the research focused can be difficult. Sometimes my research was on topic, but not necessarily relevant to the question. It can be very challenging," Jay said.

Jay said it was also important to remain adaptable and flexible. "There were times where I had to change my approach. Mostly, the way I thought about information and substantiating findings with more than one source."

After completing school, Jay is planning on studying at university and pursuing a career in teaching.

"I believe the Research Project is preparing me for university as it has shown me how to improve my report writing skills as well as how to evaluate sources," he added.

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