Program details


The Peter Doherty Science Award (PDSA) was established in 2009 and is a joint initiative of Committee for Ballarat and Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty. Professor Doherty shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1996 with Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel for their discovery of how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells. In 1977 he was Australian of the Year.

This award encourages scientific thought and activity by inspiring students to demonstrate or solve an everyday issue. Students undertake research using the scientific method, applying logic and rigour to communicate their findings.

The Peter Doherty program will take place in three stages including;

  • Introductory program at BTS where students will undertake an experiment using the scientific method, this will provide them with the framework to participate in the PDSA process.
  • Undertake school based research and present to a community panel to identify the school based representative team.
  • School representative team to present at a community awards night

Students will leave BTS with a plan for their school based research project.

Learning program overview

Students will undertake a real-world assignment to research a question or problem, develop possible solutions, design a test for their chosen solution and present their findings, demonstrating their ability to follow rigorous “scientific methods”.

Students will be:

  1. Introduced to the Peter Doherty Award
  2. Undertake a scientific method workshop
  3. Introduced to the experiment investigation
  4. Complete an experiment investigation
  5. Undertake a presentation skills workshop
  6. What next process… students will brainstorm potential science projects to undertake at school

Once students have completed their investigation, a panel will visit their school to assess their presentation. Shortlisted presenters will proceed to a presentation evening at the BTS in 2020. Prizes to be confirmed.

Success criteria

  • Undertaking a scientific investigation workshop to test an experimental procedure
  • Completion of a scientific investigation in response to a researched question or problem
  • Communication of their scientific method, solution and findings
  • Collaboration with a research peer to research at their home school

The PDSA Award assessment is based on VCE requirements.

Pathway examples

  • Informers: lab managers, scientists, detectives, physicists, teachers
  • Carers: doctors, pharmacists, physio-therapists, anaesthetists
  • Designers: food technologist, geologist, mining engineers