19 December 1997

More than 430 high school students from north Queensland to northern New South Wales are using part of their holiday to take a vacation at the University of Queensland.

The annual Leo Howard Vacation School, from Sunday, January 11 to Friday, January 16, lets students commencing Year 12 in 1998 experience the full range of study and lifestyle options at the University.

Co-ordinator Bis Parry said the School offered a wide array of hands-on activities - from taking part in atom cooling and trapping and laser experiments in the Physics Department, surfing the net, seeing how cheezels are made, visiting the Zoology Department's koalas, echidnas and aquaculture facilities, and throwing frozen squash balls at the wall to discover fracture mechanics, to carrrying out DNA analysis.

'The School helps students make informed and realistic course and career choices,' she said. 'It includes lectures on the University's range of course offerings, information on entry requirements, career/employment possibilities and financial and accommodation issues, and tours of the St Lucia and Gatton campuses.

'A full social program includes a dance, barbeque, theatre sports and visits to the Schonell cinema and Amazons Aquatic Adventureland. Participants also have time to use the University's sports facilities, which include the swimming pool, squash courts, tennis courts and gym.

'The social program particularly allows students from isolated country areas to form a peer group network with other students who intend continuing on to University after finishing Year 12.

'All the participants have a great time and many enjoy it so much they come back in future years to help as Leo Howard Vacation School supervisors - this year half of our supervisors have experienced the program.'

Students have the option of attending the School as residential or non-residential participants, with accommodation provided in several University residential colleges. Students living in for the duration of the School gain the added experience of residential life on a University campus.

Ms Parry said the School, held annually since 1972, would this year end with the 'Leo Olympics', including a popular and hotly-contested event, the Great Court three-legged race.

The Leo Howard Vacation School was founded by the late Dr Leo Howard (1924-1978), who was a senior lecturer in the University's Mathematics Department, and a Deputy Warden of Union College. Dr Howard developed a great rapport with students and this was fostered through his love of teaching. The School has grown in popularity from 25 students in 1972 to about 400 in 1997.

Media: For more information, contact Bis Parry (telephone 3365 4752 or 0419 776 195).