A radical concept

May 11 / 61

Free Radical Art
Free Radical Art

Last week, the University’s ARC Centre for Excellence for Free Radical Chemistry and Biotechnology at Bio21 hosted Concept Radical, an art competition and workshop for secondary school students.

The event was designed to explain free radicals and their impact on health, the environment and materials such as paint, plastics and artwork.

The workshops included an interactive lecture by Professor Carl Schiesser and activity stations where students watched demonstrations and took part in hands-on chemistry activities. 

Program Manager Dr Renee Beale said Professor Schiesser’s lecture and the activity stations had several simple, take-home messages which students used to form ideas for free-radical inspired art. 

“The health activity table explored how free radical exposure makes us age; free radicals and the link with heart disease (including causatives such as poor diet); good aspects of free radicals such as their use in our immune response to fight infection; and how antioxidants help,” she said. 

“We had displays set up to demonstrate some of this. To show the effect of too many free radicals in the body at the wrong place and time (such as around heart tissue), we set up an experiment with household bleach (free radical source) and bacon (simulating our heart tissue). When the bacon is in the bleach for a while, it starts to lose colour, and break apart, so we can draw a parallel with human tissue.

“We found through the activities, we could convey simple messages which were quite powerful.”

In addition to three activity stations about free radicals, the workshops also allowed students to paint or draw some of their impressions of free radicals in light of what they have learnt during the talk and from the other activity stations. 

The Free Radical Centre's art competition, see http://www.conceptradical.org.au. 

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