In2science mentors enrich the online classroom experience for Lalor North College students

By | News

Term 2 began in front of a computer screen at home for most school students in Victoria. In2science partner schools recognize the importance of university mentors and teachers have been incredibly proactive to include them in their virtual classrooms.

One of these teachers is Carolyn Drenen, teacher of Chemistry, Science and Mathematics from Lalor North College who invited her mentors Karina Rice and Maree Patsouras to join her classes using WebEx. When asked about her experience with our mentors, Carolyn said,

“Both Karina and Maree have been enthusiastic, professional helpers when they were on our school campus (before the COVID -19 school closures) and during my remote classes, as we have all had to adjust pretty quickly to these new learning environments. I am very lucky to have their expertise and support during this time.”

Before the first class, Carolyn sent briefings to Karina and Maree. Carolyn explained the structure of the lesson and how to best use their expertise to enrich the learning experience of her students. Karina, who is studying Bachelor of Science in Biomedicine at La Trobe University, was asked to share her experience in how scientific models are used at university to illustrate concepts. The theme in Maree’s lesson were the uses and major discoveries using electromagnetic waves. Maree, an honours student in Bachelor of Psychology at La Trobe University, was asked to share her knowledge on how electromagnetic waves contributed to breakthroughs in psychological testing and research.

In the first week of online mentoring, Karina sat and observed the lesson which helped her arrange something interactive for the next lesson. After two weeks of online mentoring, Maree gave students practical examples of how the topic is applied in psychology, noting that giving real life examples worked well to engage the students. Later, Maree said, “I had a really productive lesson and felt like I really contributed. It was an adjustment to online classes for me, but I am feeling more confident about my role in the classroom”.

Overall, Carolyn is thrilled with how her classes are progressing, despite the dramatic shift in teaching and learning from the classroom to online over the last month. Carolyn praised our mentors, saying, “I am extremely lucky to have two enthusiastic In2Science mentors (in Karina and Maree) and they are both doing a fantastic job in this challenging on-line learning environment”.

This is just one example of how In2science is assisting school students so they can maintain their enthusiasm for studies through this unprecedented time. If you’d like to know more about our tailored online mentoring options during remote learning, click here.

 

In2science upskills mentors to join remote learning across Victorian secondary schools during the COVID-19 pandemic

By | News

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced all Victorian schools continue classes at home, In2science spurred into action. As teachers were preparing the mammoth task of delivering all classes remotely, In2science Coordinators from The University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, RMIT and Swinburne University of Technology were upskilling their mentors to facilitate quality mentoring online.

In2science mentors support students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who face significant educational disadvantage. Normally, mentors would join science and maths classes at these schools and work with teachers to help students relate schoolwork to real-world examples, share their STEM experiences and motivations for studying at university. With the inability to interact with kids in person, In2science faced the challenge of virtually connecting with disadvantaged groups of students—who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM—in a way that would maintain students’ engagement in STEM subjects during significant disruptions to their educational and family lives.

In2science already has an online mentoring stream (eMentoring) for regional and rural secondary students. Leveraging our expertise in online mentoring and training techniques, In2science built a framework to upskill in-class mentors for diverse online learning environments. Ninety-four mentors were trained to facilitate quality conversations online, maintain safety and professional boundaries, and how to approach and share mental health resources should the conversation arise.

Current and past eMentors, Stephanie Lynch (La Trobe University), Zach Wingrave (RMIT), Poojan Agrawal (Swinburne University of Technology) and Vivek Gupta (Swinburne University of Technology) attended to share their eMentoring experience and wisdom on how to successfully engage young people over an online platform.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. University of Melbourne Coordinator Hayden Dalton said, “I’m buzzing! I found it really fun and it was great to see all the smiling faces again”. When asked what they were most looking forward to, La Trobe University mentors said, “demystifying science together” and “to see the students!”. University of Melbourne mentors were thrilled that they could do more to help with many saying they were excited to begin.

Each school will deliver the curriculum in unique ways and In2science mentors are now trained to work flexibly with each school’s preferred online collaboration platform. In2science has since prepared tailored online mentoring options for teachers to best support the individual needs of each cohort. These include one-on-one or small group online mentoring, a mentor joining a scheduled online class, and a weekly mentor call or text over a safe platform for vulnerable students. Teachers are already requesting our university peer-mentors join them remotely, and placements are set to recommence imminently.

The importance of keeping young people engaged in education and STEM subjects cannot be overstated. In2science remains committed to supporting these students and their teachers during this challenging time. Read more about our tailored online mentoring options here.

Students, mentors and teachers are reaping the benefits of In2science mentoring

By | News

As schools, teachers, students and their families navigate the new world of remote learning, we are reflecting on the impact that In2science mentors have on students’ confidence and attitudes towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). At In2science, we are leveraging the knowledge and lessons learned in over 15 years of mentoring to support students as they continue their education through remote learning.

In 2019, In2science continued to expand its reach and 5,882 Victorian high school students studying STEM at 58 schools reaped the benefits of interacting with In2science mentors. In2science recruited 318 mentors from our partner universities – La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University. These mentors connected with students over a total of 20 weeks to help build students’ enthusiasm for STEM and encourage them to consider studying science and maths into VCE and beyond.

The In2science peer mentoring model remains a powerful mechanism for improving students’ attitudes towards STEM study. The most dramatic improvement in attitudes occurred when students had regular and direct interactions with their mentor over the 10-week placement period.

The impact of In2science mentoring on girls is particularly empowering. Girls who regularly interacted with their mentor were significantly more likely to report that they would like to go to university. Moreover, girls who did not regularly interact with their mentor were significantly less likely to report positive attitudes towards STEM study and careers than boys with minimal interaction. However, not only did attitudes significantly improve when boys and girls regularly interacted with their mentor, any difference in attitudes between the genders disappeared. This feedback confirms the effectiveness of In2science peer mentoring for increasing participation for groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM.

“Sameera answered all of my questions in depth. She also organised a trip to Monash University for us to have a look, and to learn more about science pathways in the future. She was also a very approachable person, and I really enjoyed interacting with her.” – Yr 7 student, South Oakleigh Secondary College

As we prepare to support In2science partner schools and their students’ online, it is also timely to reflect on the outstanding outcomes of eMentoring for regional and rural students. The regular interactions with their eMentor via weekly online meetings has a particularly profound impact on students from regional and rural areas. More than 91% of eMentees agreed that after regular interactions with their mentor, they:

(i) have more confidence doing science;

(ii) feel that studying science or maths in VCE in achievable;

(iii) have a better understanding of how many jobs rely on science; and

(iv) would like to go to university.

The topics regional and rural students liked to discuss with their mentors also reflects their curiosity and excitement about pathways leading to higher education.  All eMentees report that they enjoy talking about life at university and 90% enjoy discussions about future studies after school.

“We have seen an increase in student confidence and enthusiasm, and students have indicated that the eMentoring experience has changed the way they feel about pursuing further education. The eMentors have exceeded our expectations with students reporting that sessions are filled with exciting debates, support with school projects, and virtual tours through the university laboratory and beyond.”  – Bretton New, Principal, Virtual School Victoria

Teachers also report outstanding outcomes for their students: 86% notice that certain students engage more in the lesson with a mentor present, with 95% agreeing that the mentor is a good role model for students. Importantly, when teachers are asked if they would recommend In2science to their colleagues they are enormously enthusiastic. This feedback is reflected in a net promoter score of 72.9. This places In2science firmly in the world-class category and is testament to the enthusiasm and commitment of mentors and the support they receive from the program.

Importantly, our outstanding mentors, while having an impressive  impact on Victorian school students, also experience numerous benefits by volunteering with In2science, with 94% agreeing that participation in In2science developed skills they will use in the future. Moreover, 92% of mentors felt they had a positive impact during their placement.

“A memorable moment was when a student, who was completely disengaged from science, was able to single-handedly complete an experiment before anyone else in the class. She said to me that she was able to do it because of my motivation and encouragement!” –  Jordan, mentor at Footscray City College

Evidently, the connections the mentors forge with their mentees can have an important positive impact on students’ attitudes towards STEM and STEM careers. In2science remains committed to supporting schools and students as they navigate this new world of remote learning, building upon the knowledge gained over 15 years of mentoring.

Find out more about our response to COVID-19 and how to host a mentor.

In2science response to COVID-19

By | News

 

The In2science team is keen to reassure all our partner schools, mentors, mentees and other stakeholders that we remain committed to delivering high quality mentoring to encourage secondary school students to study STEM and pursue STEM careers. The health, safety and well-being of teachers, students and mentors remains our top priority and in some instances, mentors will be unable to attend class in person.
To enable In2science mentors to maintain connections with their mentees, we are working with schools to arrange alternative mentoring models, including offering the program online.

Plans are well underway to provide additional training for our mentors, which will enable them to facilitate conversations online in a safe and effective manner. We are incredibly proud of these passionate and committed young people who all volunteer their time to help lift STEM educational outcomes. That commitment remains as strong as ever!

For more information about In2science and its response to COVID-19, please contact In2science Program Director, Dr Alison Every.

Regional Visit to Traralgon College and Maffra Secondary College

By | News

 

eMentoring Coordinator Dr Audrey Bester presenting the In2science partner school certificate to Maffra Secondary College link teacher Kristen Raine, Assistant Principal Nathan Wallace and some past and present eMentees.

The first quarter of the year is a busy time for In2science. Regional visits to our partner schools are sometimes scheduled before mentoring placements begin. This year, eMentoring Coordinator Dr Audrey Bester travelled east to Gippsland to catch up with the teachers at Traralgon College and Maffra Secondary College, to ensure that the support we are providing is optimally tailored for our regional schools.  

Traralgon College was first on the list. It was a good time to reacquaint ourselves with old and new teachers. We had the privilege of sitting in on a science faculty meeting, where we discussed the needs of different cohorts within the school. An advantage of the In2science eMentoring model is that mentoring occurs via video conferencing with small groups of students. This means teachers can provide us with specific information about the students’ interests, so eMentors can tailor their support.

The next day we visited Maffra Secondary College. In2science was welcomed by a group of students comprising past and current eMentees, a definite highlight of the entire trip! Photos were taken and stories were shared. Some eMentoring groups had already begun placements by the time we arrived, and it was great to hear from the students themselves that the mentoring sessions were off to a good start . Maffra Secondary College was one of the first eMentoring partner schools of In2science and took part in the pilot of the online mentoring model when it debuted in 2016. We were treated to a tour of the school and a delicious lunch with the staff before having to take the trip back to Melbourne.

eMentoring Coordinator Dr Audrey Bester presenting the In2science partner school certificate to the Science Faculty of Traralgon College, Traralgon.

In2science would like to thank Maffra Secondary College and Traralgon College for such warm hospitality from the staff and students. It is a privilege for us to support these schools and students. The dedication from these teachers to provide their students with the best STEM education was clear as soon as we met. We hope to visit East Gippsland again soon!

For more information about the In2science program Click Here.

If you would like to host a mentor as a regional school, Click Here or contact Dr Audrey Bester, eMentoring Coordinator.

 



12 hours with In2science’s eMentoring Coordinator: Bendigo Road Trip Edition

By | News

In2science team members Will, Audrey and Shobie visit the RMIT University Flight Training School

By Dr Audrey Bester

Each year In2science coordinators travel all around Victoria to deliver STEM roadshows and other outreach activities with our partner universities, including Science Delivery from The University of Melbourne and The RMIT Regional Roadshow. For my first road trip with In2science, I travelled to Bendigo with La Trobe University (LTU) Coordinator, Shobie Dorai Singam, and RMIT University Coordinator, Dr Will Sullivan, to visit LTU’s Bendigo campus, tour RMIT’s flight training school and visit Eaglehawk Secondary College. Here’s how the day unfolded…

6:30am: The sun finally started to rise. It was an early start for me. Before leaving to meet Shobie, I checked our itinerary, replied to some last-minute emails and made sure I had packed everything we needed. Of course, priority was given to road trip snacks and organising a robust, energizing playlist for Shobie and I to drink our morning coffee to as we zoomed up the Calder Freeway.

8:00am: Finally, on the road! The smell of burnt coffee from a drive-through is nostalgic for me and I bury the flavour with sugar. We spend approximately 45 minutes trying to get out of the chaos that is Melbourne rush hour.

10:20am: We arrive at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus. First on our agenda is a meeting with Dr Rodrigo Rico Bini, a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the La Trobe Rural Health School. He’s enthusiastic about the program and believes that several physiology students may be interested in volunteering.

11:00am: We meet with Lecturer, Dr Sabine Wilkens, and Senior Coordinator, Ms. Siobhan Downing. Dr Sabine has been promoting In2science at LTU Bendigo to her Pharmacy students for several years and we discussed the logistics of providing training on site at LTU’s regional campuses, something In2science would love to do. Siobhan expressed that Bachelor of Biomedical Science students are keen to apply to be mentors. We are thrilled to hear this and welcome applications from all students studying STEM and to provide in-class mentors from regional campuses to local schools!

12:00pm: After saying goodbye to the LTU Bendigo Campus, we drove to the RMIT Flight Centre to meet with In2science’s RMIT University Coordinator, Dr Will Sullivan. He introduces us to aviation engagement coordinator, Dr Patrick (Pat) Griffiths who takes Shobie and I on a tour of the new flight school. RMIT’s Bendigo Flight Training site is brand new and has been in operation since mid-2019. It is an impressive facility!

We spent some time in the hangar and observed planes landing and taking off. Then, we made our way to a room with enormous screens and seating to simulate a cockpit. The simulation allows students to practise flying from any airport in the world. I resist the urge to ask Pat for a demonstration but make a mental note to do it next time. Pat informs us that In2science mentors and mentees are always welcome to organise an excursion to the flight centre for a tour, and possibly get into the air for a ride!

1:00pm: Will, Shobie and I take a short break for lunch, but we had to be quick. Students were gathering back at LTU Bendigo Campus for a pre-orientation session at which we were speaking!

1:20pm: We speak with students at the Early Connections Course Welcome event at LTU Bendigo. This event is a pre-orientation for students starting a degree at the College of Science, Health and Engineering. Most of them are starting their university journeys so are interested in applying as a mentor for In2science next year. However, there are some Honours students keen to support high school STEM students, locally, in 2020.

3:00pm: We are joined by Will and Pat Griffiths again and visit Eaglehawk Secondary College, a valued partner school and long-term supporter of In2science. The Maths Faculty were gathering for a meeting, and we joined them for an icebreaker game of Spot It! We present the In2science partner school certificate to teacher, Michelle Nevins, and her colleagues, Casey, Rebecca and Jason, who have hosted many In2science mentors over the years. One of these mentors now works at Eaglehawk SC!

The In2science team presents partnership certificate to Eaglehawk Secondary College’s, Michelle Nevins and colleagues.

Eaglehawk SC is unique because it qualifies as a regional school but is also near the LTU Bendigo campus. Consequently, they can request eMentors to support their students online and host in-class mentors to join their STEM classrooms.

4:00pm: We say our goodbyes to the teachers and Eaglehawk with promises to return and commence the drive back home to Melbourne in Olwen the Toyota Yaris.

6:30pm: Melbourne rush hour strikes again! We finally arrive back at La Trobe University, Melbourne campus. Despite the long day Shobie and I enjoyed it immensely and are feeling energised about the year ahead. It was a real privilege to meet and engage with some of the people who help facilitate, and experience benefit from, the In2science program. This certainly won’t be my last regional visit for the year, but it was a great one to start with. Spirits are high as we begin training new In2science mentor applicants in preparation for placement with secondary school students all over the state.

For more information about the In2science program Click Here.
If you would like to host a mentor as a regional school, Click Here or contact Dr Audrey Bester, eMentoring Coordinator.

 

 

The Department of Education and Training awards In2science eMentoring program

By | News

In recognition of In2science’s positive contribution and commitment in supporting underrepresented groups at university, The Department of Education and Training (DET) has awarded the peer-mentoring program with additional funding to support Victorian regional and rural students until 2023. As part of the Regional and Rural School Reform package, funding will ensure the continued development, enhancement and expansion of the In2science eMentoring program for regional and rural government schools across Victoria.

Since its inception in 2016, eMentoring has positively impacted 202 secondary school students at 23 schools in regional and rural Victoria. eMentoring fosters students’ enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and encourages them to pursue higher education. In2science’s online mentoring model directly addresses many of the challenges experienced by regional and rural students like increasing awareness of, and access to, STEM educational opportunities as they engage with passionate and enthusiastic STEM university students.

This funding builds the capacity of In2science, an award-winning and innovative program, to work more effectively with regional and rural government school students, particularly groups that are underrepresented in STEM. This includes girls, indigenous students and students from low SES backgrounds, thereby reducing the impact of disadvantage on student outcomes and equipping them with the attributes, knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

If you are part of a regional or rural school and would like to Host an eMentor at your school, click here or contact Dr Audrey Bester, In2science eMentoring Coordinator.

Mentors unpack the importance and diversity of studying plant health in The International Year of Plant Health

By | News, Profiles

In2science mentor Matthew James trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro.

In2science mentor, Matthew James has been around trees his entire life. As a child, bushwalks with his dad piqued Matthew’s interest in the complexity and diversity of trees. Therefore, it made sense to direct his passion to study a Master of Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne while mentoring for In2science and working as a consulting Arborist to practice what he learns daily.

Similarly, mentor Ivy Vrousgos, from La Trobe University, has always been interested in cultivating plants in her garden and helping them flourish. It made Ivy want to begin a Bachelor of Science, but she only decided to major in Botany and Environmental Geoscience after learning about plant evolution inspired her as an undergraduate.

There are moments in life when enough curiosity inspires you to explore a passion further in your education. For Ivy it was in a lecture theatre and for Matthew, looking at a leaf cell through a microscope and learning about photosynthesis for the first time. These moments are opportune, because the health of plants throughout the world is increasingly under threat due to climate change caused by human activity. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) estimates that 40% of agricultural crops are lost annually because of reduced biodiversity and increased trade. This spreads pests and diseases to new areas where they can thrive and causes devastating effects because plants are vital to food security worldwide.

Once plant pests and diseases have established themselves in crops, they are almost impossible to eradicate. The effort required to manage them is expensive and time consuming.  In the wake of a new decade, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year Of Plant Health (IYPH) because, at the very least, protecting plants from pests and diseases is substantially more cost-effective than international plant health disasters.

This renewed awareness in plant and ecosystem health is welcomed by mentors Ivy and Matthew, who study different areas in botany at La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne, but still share a desire to improve the health of the plant species in their respective fields. Matthew wants to take the skills he learns in Urban Horticulture to improve his practice as an arborist and address some issues that plants face in an urban environment. Ivy’s goal is to merge the fields of ecology and agriculture to develop smarter cropping systems.

A 600-700 year old Red Gum tree in Dunkeld.

When discussing what the IYPH means to them, Matthew says that “healthy plants are resilient plants. We are already seeing the effects that the increase of temperature has on plants, particularly plants that don’t possess the adaptations needed to survive in the changing climate”. Ivy agreed, adding that, “Plant health is an important aspect to our very existence, so it is very important for people to understand this”.

Practical ways that we can contribute to protecting our plants include limiting transportation of plants and plant products internationally, reducing our carbon footprint, connecting with our policymakers to encourage investment in plant health research and using environmentally sensitive methods of pest and disease reduction such as integrated pest management.

Plants make up 80% of the food we eat and provide 98% of the oxygen we breathe. The FAO estimates that agricultural production must rise to 60% by 2050 in order to feed the world’s growing population, despite climate change generally reducing the quality and quantity of crops.

If you’re inspired by plants and the importance of protecting them, it may be worth considering taking your curiosity further. The breadth of courses you can undertake in plant health is huge. Botany is no longer one course or subject, but forms large areas of study that results in transferable skills that overlap many fields including genetics, geoscience, urban horticulture and economics. As In2science mentors, Matthew and Ivy share these passions in the classroom, helping to guide students to pursue their interest in practical ways and find things that make them curious, because you never know where that might take you.

If you are a university student interested in mentoring for In2science, click here.

 

If you are a teacher, click here to host a mentor in your classroom.

Toyota funding facilitates meaningful career discussions for mentors and students

By | News

This year, with funding from the Toyota Community Trust, In2science impacted more than 800 secondary school students, building their enthusiasm for STEM and encouraging the pursuit of STEM careers, by placing 37 mentors in six schools in the western suburbs of Melbourne. 

The Toyota Community Trust was established in 2017 to honour the legacy of Toyota car manufacturing in Australia which concluded that year in Altona, Melbourne. The Trust was endowed with $32 million of which the interest every year goes towards STEM education initiatives in the west of Melbourne. 

At the recent In2science Annual Awards ceremony, Toyota Community Trust Board Director, Mr Damien Bayard remarked that In2science stood out to the Board of directors of the Trust as it delivers a three-way benefit –  to high school students, teachers and university students.

In addition to helping In2science extend its reach through more mentor placements in 2019, funding was also used to provide training to mentors, which enabled them to carry out career conversations with small groups of school students in the classroom. Mentors who participated in this pilot reported that facilitating these conversations was something they had always  wanted to do, however they had not had the training or found a mechanism to do it.

Seeking to equip mentors with the toolkit and mechanism to facilitate conversations about STEM careers, In2science selected and trained three mentors to participate in this pilot. Mentors liaised with the classroom teachers to select groups of students to participate and then guided them through a range of activities including:

  • reflecting on their interests/skills and understand how science and maths relate to these
  • identifying role models in their own life and how science and maths relate to those careers
  • identifying study options that relate to their current interests/skills
  • identifying the VCE subjects necessary to pursue the above courses
  • gaining a clearer picture of jobs, careers and study pathways through ‘Accessing their Allies’, and
  • identifying their networks.

The ‘STEM career sessions’ were piloted in Year 7 – 9 classrooms with 17 students (up to eight students per group) at Footscray City College, Laverton P-12 College, Bayside P-12 College. The impact on students’ knowledge and attitudes towards STEM careers was profoundly positive. One year 7 student noted, “I didn’t realise that science skills could be used in almost every job”. Another said, “There are so many more job options available I had never thought of before.” Despite the STEM focus, students also gained an appreciation for the breadth of courses available in higher education with one student quipping, “Wow, you can do arts and dance through university?”

As with all In2science’s STEM outreach activities, the aim is to provide maximum benefit to students, mentors and teachers. This initiative was no exception. Students experienced numerous benefits including: gaining confidence in planning and striving for a STEM-based career, acquiring practical advice on preparing resumes and identifying people within their networks that may be able to provide advice and assistance on career planning.

Mentors were challenged, but ultimately felt empowered to facilitate career discussions and thrived on the deeper connections they build with the students who participated.

Teachers appreciated the mentors’ input into career education and were grateful that mentors were able to introduce these ideas in such an informal and fun way. Importantly, mentors were also able to build upon the discussions about jobs in STEM that had already taken place in the classroom.

The great success of this pilot has encouraged In2science to roll out ‘STEM career sessions’ more broadly across more In2science schools. For more information about ‘STEM career sessions’ or In2science in general, please contact In2science Program Manager, Robyn Gamble.

In2science is grateful for the generous support of Toyota Community Trust.

In2science Annual Awards and celebrating 15 years of peer mentoring in Victoria

By | Events, News

The sun was bright and warm on the evening of the 2019 In2science Annual Awards when 140 friends and supporters of the peer mentoring program gathered at the Melbourne Museum. It is the most highly anticipated event on the In2science calendar because it is our opportunity to formally recognize the achievements of exceptional mentors, schools, teachers and students in 2019.

This year was made more special as In2science celebrates 15 years of significantly impacting secondary school students’ attitudes towards STEM and its career pathways through positive mentoring relationships. Since its inception in 2004, In2science has successfully mentored more than 69,000 students in 184 partner schools across Victoria. Indeed, the program continues to expand its reach; this year alone, In2science mentors reached 5,822 students in 58 partner schools, across 320 mentor placements.

In2science Program Director, Dr. Alison Every opened the event with a video that showcases eMentoring, an online mentoring program that benefits secondary students across regional, rural and remote Victoria. Dr Every also acknowledged the generous support of this year’s Awards sponsors, Toyota Community Trust, CSL and Bosch.

Dr. Every reflected on the highlights of 2019, which saw In2science build upon nascent industry partnerships for a greater alignment between industry and education, including: (i) a successful pilot with KBR Inc. where graduate employees particpated in “Meet An Engineer” sessions with regional eMentees, (ii) in collaboration with Engineers Australia, In2science hosted a STEM Partnerships Forum with Australia’s Chief Scientist and In2science Patron, Dr. Alan Finkel delivering the keynote speech (iii) engaged Campus Consultancy to deliver professional development workshops for mentors, and (iv) with support from the Toyota Community Foundation, engaged six schools in Melbourne’s West. Finally, 2019 finished on a high as In2science received news that Victoria’s Department of Education and Training will support our initiatives to engage regional, rural and remote students through eMentoring until 2023.

The Honourable Professor John Brumby AO, Chair of the In2science Advisory Board gave his keynote speech, first acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung people. Professor Brumby spoke eloquently of the importance of turning the large challenges Australia currently faces into opportunities through nurturing and developing the STEM skills in our schools, paying tribute to all who make In2science a success, from teachers, mentors and students to In2science staff, government and philanthropic funding partners and In2science’s five partner universities, La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University.

The Mentor Support Award was awarded to teachers Steve Kuruc of South Oakleigh College, who successfully introduced In2science to his school this year, ensuring its immediate success by providing a welcoming, inclusive environment for mentors and Ben McKenzie from Emmanuel College, Warrnambool who hosted 4 mentors for student groups participating in CSIRO’s Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) program.

Preston High School’s Principal, Sean Butler, then stepped up to the podium to accept the Engagement School Award. Having accommodated several In2science mentors across all areas of their STEM courses, Preston High School’s teachers are enthusiastic and are collectively driven to enhancing their students’ experience in STEM subjects. This year, In2science were fortunate to partner with Toyota Community Trust to engage students in Melbourne’s West. Toyota Community Trust’s, Mr Damien Bayard acknowledged the benefits that are experienced by secondary school students, teachers and university student mentors alike, “A win-win-win relationship”, before presenting Outstanding Mentee Student Award, which was given to joint winners, Jemima Healy from Virtual School Victoria Huy Nguyen from Mount Alexander College.

Annabel Martinac, a year 10 student from Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta, was invited to speak about her experience with In2science and her mentor, Erin Cameron. She spoke about the instant connection she made with Erin and how easy it was to communicate with someone closer in age. At each session they brought a piece of science to share and learned new things each week. Erin gave her guidance and insight to what the future could hold, and soon Annabel felt comfortable and excited to pursue VCE and the opportunities beyond it. Annabel said, “I never thought I’d be sad to have my Monday lunch free and be able to go outside with my school friends. This experience has been more valuable than I could have ever imagined. I would definitely recommend it to any high school student”.

This year In2science was fortunate to receive support from Bosch Australia and CSL to sponsor some mentor awards, showing that employers are taking notice of the important work In2science does for the next generation of STEM graduates.

Ms Amy Kaa from Bosch Australia presented the Impact Award to Nicholas Robinson from Swinburne University, awarded to a university mentor who has made a significant positive impact in engaging students in science and maths. Alistair Grevis-James from CSL, also an In2science alumnus, presented the Regional Engagement Award to winner, Zach Wingrave, from RMIT University, an inspirational university mentor in the online eMentoring program.

Vivian Tran from La Trobe University was recognized for her outstanding contribution to In2science as a winner of the Role Model Award. Throughout the year, Vivian was driven to empower high school students in breaking down negative stereotypes. The Dedication Award was given to Rachael Hart from the University of Melbourne, for her outstanding commitment to the program, her mentees and the mentor community. Sameera Tadikonda from Monash University won the Above & Beyond Award for the exceptional initiative she displayed in engaging students in science or maths. Sameera was solely responsible for planning an excursion and campus tour for her mentees to connect with STEM faculties and labs at Monash University.

Finally, In2science mentor Dionne Argyropoulos from The University of Melbourne was invited to speak about her experience in the program over the last few years. Dionne elaborated on the privilege of working with students and witnessing the spark in curiosity and joy when they resonate with STEM topics.

The sun finally set as the official proceedings ended, and all those who had been involved with In2science reflected on a wonderfully positive year. This success has been reflected through the hard work and support from the In2science team, its Advisory Board, our industry partners, the schools, teachers, mentors and mentees. In2science would like to thank all who have been involved over the last 15 years to make this peer mentoring program impactful and hugely important in improving STEM attitudes and careers of secondary school students in Victoria.

Click here to read more about the 2019 Annual Awards
Click here to see a photo gallery of the 2019 In2science Annual Awards

 

 

In2science is grateful for the generous support of our Awards sponsors, Toyota Community Trust, CSL and Bosch.