Dorothy Hill Observatory ignites wonder and awe

Dorothy Hill ObservatoryCoinciding with World Space Week (4 to 10 October), Brisbane Girls Grammar School has launched the Dorothy Hill Observatory — an extraordinary learning asset comprising a remotely operated observatory and telescopes — extending opportunities to foster students’ real-world scientific skills while deepening their inherent interest in the study of science.

The construction of a state-of-the-art observatory, named after pioneering scientist and past student, Professor Dorothy Hill (1907­­-1997; BGGS, 1924), reflects the School’s commitment to the study of science as part of the broad, liberal education for which it has been renowned for more than 142 years.

Brisbane Girls Grammar School Principal, Ms Jacinda Euler, said the observatory would support the School in nurturing girls’ curiosity across an engaging and challenging Science curriculum designed to prepare students for life beyond the classroom.

‘The Dorothy Hill Observatory will have a transformative impact on learning. Bridging the digital divide by using meaningful primary astronomical data across Physics, Mathematics and Technologies, it will support the delivery of STEM education.

‘The observatory will also be used in ways not yet imagined, opening the intrigue of the night sky and deep space to all students, honouring the legacy of Professor Hill and advancing her ambition to deepen the impact of women as scientists, innovators and leaders,’ Ms Euler said.

The observatory pays tribute to Professor Hill (BGGS, 1924) — the first female to graduate with a gold medal from The University of Queensland, the first female professor at an Australian university and the first female President of the Australian Academy of Science.

‘Professor Hill argued that “the need to be a pioneer is particularly apparent for women”; her extraordinary achievements are testament to this belief, and serve as an inspiration for Grammar girls who will use the observatory to undertake research using their own primary data, and potentially publish research to support professional astronomical projects,’ Ms Euler said.

Equipped with three robotic telescopes — which can be manipulated remotely from anywhere in the world — the observatory provides students with access to equipment used by professional astronomers.

Students will select astronomical targets to discover and explore areas of the night sky that appear ‘empty’ to the naked eye, but are actually teeming with astronomic activity.

‘Girls will be exposed to outer space in ways that will challenge them to question their existing knowledge, and in doing so, inspire curiosity and higher order thinking,’ Ms Euler said.

Brisbane Girls Grammar School students are highly engaged with science. The School was recently named in The Educator magazine’s 2017 Innovative Schools List in recognition of its achievements in attracting and retaining students’ interest in this area of study.

In 2016, more than ninety per cent of the Year 12 cohort studied one or more science subjects and of that group, more than forty per cent are now undertaking science-based university degrees.

The Dorothy Hill Observatory is located at the School’s Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre outside Imbil, near Gympie.

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