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How this year 10 student won the 2016 UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing

Year 10 student Marissa Petrakis shares the thoughts and experiences that led her to write an award-winning science essay.

When considering what to write about in my science essay, I thought deeply about what interested me and what I felt passionate about. I thought about my past experiences and considered unique ways I could shape these into an essay on an Australian invention or discovery.

I found space and astronomy fascinating from a young age and this interest was carried over into forming a starting point for the essay. As this was an area I thought I would enjoy writing about, the writing process became much easier. It became even more enjoyable when I decided to write about supernovas, which I had a keen interest in. In this way, I was able to understand what I was describing and achieve clarity in the message I aimed to convey.

Another aspect I aimed to achieve in my writing was originality. This meant my entry had to stand out and in particular the opening lines had to be an inspiring and captivating experience for the reader.

The title of the essay also had to be concise while giving the reader insight into what I wanted to discuss. My title, “From Here to the Stars: Discovering the Supernovae”, was aimed at capturing the essence of my essay into a single line. “From Here to the Stars” was also aimed at transporting the reader into experiencing what Reverend Evans felt when discovering supernovae. In my essay, I described the factual importance of Evans’ discoveries whilst also alluding to the larger scientific impact his work brought to understanding the universe.

In the early stages of writing, I began by gathering as much information as I could find on the topic from a variety of sources including websites and newspaper articles. After collating this information, I had an intricate understanding on my topic and used this as a starting point, from which I wrote my essay.

I was motivated by idea of researching a discovery that was not commonly discussed in the media, and after finding Reverend Robert Evans’ story, I decided it was one worth telling. Writing about an unfamiliar topic that is not often heard of, yet greatly significant, elevated my work and motivated me to convey the message of the supernova from a fresh perspective.

The further I researched, the more certain I felt in choosing this topic. It was essential from the start that no matter what I chose to write about, that it was interesting to me. This was the basis of writing well and critically assessing Reverend Evans’ contribution to science.

The result of writing this science essay was both educational and rewarding. I highly recommend this writing experience to anyone wishing to expand their knowledge on Australia’s scientific contributions to the world.

– Marissa Petrakis

Year 10, Meriden School

Read Marissa’s winning essay here.

Find out more about the UNSW Bragg Student Prize for Science Writing here.

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