Toyota funding facilitates meaningful career discussions for mentors and students

By | News

This year, funding from the Toyota Community Trust impacted more than 800 In2science 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.

In2science would like to thank Awards sponsors, Toyota Community Trust, CSL and Bosch for the generous support.

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

 

In2science builds bridges between KBR engineers and high school students

By | News

Imagine if you were faced with a 14-year-old who asked, quite simply, “If you could go back and start university again, would you have done things differently?”. That’s exactly what KBR engineers had to grapple with when they sat down to talk with keen-eyed, enthusiastic high school students and their In2science mentors last month. At first, there was silence. And then, something amazing happened.

Earlier this year, global engineering firm, KBR, who is currently responsible for the removal of a number of railroad crossings in Melbourne, approached In2science because they wanted to be involved in the important work we are doing for high school students across Victoria. This presented an outstanding opportunity for our eMentoring program, as it involves regional students who are often significantly disadvantaged by distance, a lack of role models and a lack of resources.

And so, “Meet An Engineer with In2science” came to be, where early-career engineers could meet with our eMentees and talk about their engineering journeys. After a careful selection of student-mentor groups that we knew would be interested in the opportunities the world of engineering offered, the pilot was ready to launch.

Among the challenges the engineering industry faces, a major one is the lack of female engineers. Currently, women make up approximately 13% of the engineering workforce and only about  16% of students graduating with a university engineering degree are female. This year, Alesha Printz, General Manager, Victoria Division at Engineers Australia told the panel at In2science’s STEM Partnerships Forum that there is a “huge marketing issue for women” when it comes to pursuing a career in engineering. A lack of visible role models is a huge problem across all STEM education and career paths; this pilot afforded the ideal opportunity for female and regional high school students to talk to real engineers.

The brief was simple, get students curious and excited about the diverse world of engineering. Over the course of two weeks, six KBR engineers joined an eMentoring session to let mentors and students glimpse what it’s like to be an engineer. As with many first encounters there was some initial shyness to overcome, but within minutes the awkwardness dissipated, and the stories and questions began to flow.

Relating Minecraft and Lego to bridge building and world-making was a big hit, and students were especially excited when engineers shared projects they were working on because students are not necessarily aware of how many people with specialised skills are needed to construct things in an urban world. One group focused on moving long distances for work and the challenges you face when finishing university in search of employment, while another spent half an hour on the aesthetics of wind turbines and community engagement.

So, if you could go back and start university again, would you have done things differently? Every single session had a question like this one, and in each instance, there was silence at first. Even the mentors were stumped for a few seconds, as the question applied to them as well. It’s a good question. It’s a hard question, and the answer is never simple. However, students were not looking for the correct answer, they were looking for an honest answer, and all the KBR engineers and mentors gave them that. Life journeys change, and almost everyone did not follow the paths they started on at university. However, they all kept doing something that interested them, that made them excited. Each student loved this, and it removed much of the anxiety of choosing the right subjects for VCE or the right university course. It wasn’t about making the right decision for the rest of your life, it was about making a decision that opens doors.

The “Meet An Engineer with In2science” pilot provided high school students with a rare opportunity to speak to professionals on an even playing field and to receive reinforcement that even if life is challenging, if you do something that gets you excited, you are travelling on the right path. More so, our female students could speak to female engineers doing what they loved, showing that engineering is a relevant, attainable and highly desirable career path.

If you are interested in becoming an industry partner with In2science, email In2science Director Dr Alison Every ([email protected])

If you are interested in joining the In2science eMentoring program, Click here!

 

In2science awarded Strategic Partnerships Program funding

By | News

In recognition of its ongoing commitment to supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in Victoria, In2science was recently awarded funding from the Victorian Government. Bestowed by The Department of Education and Training (DET), this funding will ensure that this innovative and award-winning program can continue to place university STEM student volunteers into secondary schools to increase engagement, boost enthusiasm and build STEM career aspirations.

For nearly 14 years, In2science has fostered fruitful partnerships between disadvantaged and low SES schools, or regional students disadvantaged by distance, and its partner universities – La Trobe University, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and The University of Melbourne. In doing so, tens of thousands of students have reaped the rewards of interacting with passionate, engaging and enthusiastic STEM university students.

The funding builds the capacity of In2science to work more effectively with students. The program will also expand its reach to include maths and science classes from year 7 all the way through to year 10 in our partner schools. Students who directly engage with mentors develop confidence in their maths and science abilities. Many also consider pursuing a career in STEM fields after these interactions.

 

STEM Career Speed Networking Event lights the way

By | News

“Our STEM mentors build communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and time management – all very important things for future STEM careers”

– Megan Mundy, In2science Program Director

Enthralled In2science mentors, alumni and their fellow STEM students engaged with STEM industry graduates and professionals at our recent Career Speed Networking workshop to gain inside knowledge and advice about kick-starting their #In2scienceSTEMcareers.

In2science Director, Megan Mundy, commenced proceedings with an acknowledgement of country, followed by a brief overview of the In2science Program and finally, directed a special welcome to our guests and mentors. Alistair Grevis-James, Business Systems Analyst at CSL, then provided some insight into the benefits he reaped as an In2science mentor, and how these helped him attain a rewarding and exciting role in a global biotech company. After some housekeeping announcements, a hush descended as the students and industry professionals apprehensively took their places at their assigned station.

The energy in the room was palpable as our guests imparted their wisdom, stoked some fervent discussions, and further invigorated this passionate group of budding STEM enthusiasts to pursue a rewarding career in the STEM disciplines.

The students were very engaged; there were some great questions” – Kathryn Sobey, Head of Science, Auburn High School

In2science mentor, Yubeih He, from the University of Melbourne was equally impressed with our esteemed panel of professionals, “I met with some fantastic people from industry and received great advice”. Similarly, Anish Ramkhelawon from the University of Melbourne observed, “I really appreciated the practical advice and now feel more relaxed about the interview process”.

The small group chats facilitated maximum exposure to a diverse range of STEM professionals and graduates in a relaxed and informal setting. Many took the opportunity to pursue further discussions after the formal proceedings while they enjoyed some refreshments.

Some students and In2science mentors also availed themselves of the opportunity to have their resumes appraised by David Azzopardi (Senior Manager of Talent Development at CSL Behring), Waheed Rashid (Program Manager at Ericsson AU) and Vanessa Ashokkumar (Customer Project Manager, Ericsson); the In2science Team sincerely thank them for providing this valuable service.

With new contacts made and enthusiasm ignited, the event was reluctantly drawn to a close.

In2science gratefully acknowledges the Selby Scientific Foundation, whose generous support enabled us to run this event. In2science also extends our heartfelt thanks to all who participated, and particularly our inspirational guests:

  • Rachel Johnston – Technical Director, BP
  • Eliza Tipping Smith – Operations Analyst, BP
  • Sally Lowenstein – Science Communicator, Bureau of Meteorology
  • Kathryn Sobey – Head of Science, Auburn High School
  • Sarah Longhurst – Consultant, Deloitte
  • David Azzopardi – Senior Manager of Talent Development, CSL Behring
  • Alistair Grevis-James – Business Systems Analyst, CSL
  • Tiarne Ecker – Biodiversity Science Graduate, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research
  • Jaydene Pearson – Graduate Engineer, Lendlease
  • Waheed Rashid – Program Director, Ericsson Australia
  • Vanessa Ashokkummar – Customer Project Manager, Ericsson Australia

In2science reflections: Semester 2, 2015

By | News

Semester 2 heralded a significant milestone for the In2science program.

All four partner universities were active in placing mentors for the first time under new funding from the Federal Government’s Australian Maths and Science Partnership Programme. This funding saw the four universities:

  • recruit, train and place 74 mentors
  • reach 1646 students
  • enable an annual contribution of $3.5 million to the Australian economy as the result of mentored students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers

The long-term benefits of peer mentoring can be difficult to quantify. However, pre- and post-placement surveys allows glimpses of the short-term impact of the In2science program on both mentors and students.

Impact on students

Word cloud generated from students' comments.

Word cloud generated from students’ comments.

In2science mentors had a generally positive impact on students’ engagement with and attitudes towards science.

Preliminary analysis of survey results reveal that, after having an In2science mentor, students:

  • Are more likely to discuss science with friends and other students in order to improve their understanding
  • Remain relatively unchanged in their perception of science ability
  • Are more likely to enjoy practical investigations
  • Can see themselves doing a job that involves science

Students completed a pre-placement survey in July, which was followed up post-placement in October/November. Using an anonymous unique student identifier, we have matched a number of responses, allowing analysis of individual students and their change in responses.

This approach to evaluation has produced an astounding 29,500 individual data points and a myriad of ways to probe them. Investigating the number of students who changed their responses to survey questions from July to November – or those who remained unchanged – reveals general trends and impacts of In2science mentors on students at an individual level. As an example, 26% of students from matched data responded more positively to the statement “Nearly everyone is capable of understanding science if they work at it” after having an In2science mentor, while 66% remained unchanged. However, of those who didn’t change their response, more than half already agreed with the statement.

Analysis of matched survey results highlights areas for the program to improve. After having an In2science mentor, students responded more positively towards the statement “If I get stuck on a science problem, I won’t be able to work it out on my own”. Although more students disagreed (27%) with this statement than agreed with it (26%), the shift trend away from disagreement suggests a change in students’ confidence in science. While there are numerous factors that may impact student confidence, there is room for In2science mentors to focus on building confidence in problem solving skills.

Impact on mentors

It wasn’t just students who benefited from In2science: mentor evaluations also reveal a positive impact.

Mentors also completed pre- and post-placement surveys to gauge their attitudes towards science, communication and education. Preliminary analysis of results indicate:

  • Mentors have a greater understanding of the teaching and learning process (54% responded more positively)
  • 20% of mentors improved their skills in working in different economic, cultural and social environments (84% felt that already had those skills prior to In2science)
  • 94% felt they had a positive impact on students throughout their placement

For some mentors, In2science is an opportunity to gain experience in a classroom environment. Our surveys looked as mentor’s responses to the statement “I am not considering teaching as a career”. Analysis of survey results show that 15% of mentors were more likely to agree with that statement after their In2science placement, while 8% were more likely to disagree. 77% remained unchanged. Although In2science does not exist to encourage university students to pursue teaching, it can play an important role in introducing university students to the classroom environment and help them make an informed decision. The change in responses to this statement suggest that In2science is serving this purpose and helping those who intend to become a teacher decide if that is really for them.

Looking towards 2016

Semester 1 will see the number of schools partnered with In2science double to 32. In addition, regional campuses will again be involved in mentoring, with Bendigo-based La Trobe University students volunteering for the program. By the end of 2016, the number of partner schools is projected to grow to 40.

In comparison, mentor numbers are projected to grow at a slower rate. In2science coordinators aim to place at least 80 mentors in the first semester, rising towards 100 mentors in the latter half of 2016. Providing adequate support for mentors which, in turn, impacts the quality of the program for students, is a key driver in moderating growth of mentor numbers. By the end of 2016 it is possible that In2science mentors may collectively interact with some 2500 students, however the final number depends on how teachers plan to utilise the mentor in their classroom.

Placement profile: Robotics at Mount Alexander College

By | Profiles
Rodrigo at Mt Alexander College

Rodrigo made a huge impact as a mentor in a robotics class at Mount Alexander College.

If the robotics class at Mount Alexander College is anything to go by, we will have robots helping in disaster zones in no time.

Science teacher Samara Kelly loves the hands-on creative process involved with robotics. “Students love to build things, and they love computers,” she said.

“Robotics is a way of teaching creative thinking and problem-solving in a way that students enjoy. Mount Alexander College has a huge focus on hands-on learning – we do a lot of practicals as part of the ‘Take Control’ student lead learning system.”

Robotics students meet future engineer

During Semester 2 in 2015, Samara welcomed Rodrigo Acosta into her classroom as an In2science mentor. Rodrigo is studying a Master of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Melbourne, with a focus on developing prosthetic limbs and designing solutions that can increase the level of healthcare in developing countries. Mentoring in a robotics class was the perfect match for Rodrigo.

Quote from Rodrigo: "I did nothing; only sat next to him and gave him the confidence to make mistakes."The first day at Mount Alexander College revealed the path Rodrigo would take during his placement, but in an unexpected way. “When Samara was taking the roll, a student called Samatar walked in late and angry,” Rodrigo recalled.

“He argued with Samara about being late and sat at the very back of the class with his headphones on. I immediately thought he was going to be a challenge because he showed no interest in being in the class.”

When the students paired up to begin working on their Lego robots, Samatar was left to work by himself. After introducing himself to other students in the class, Samara asked Rodrigo to give Samatar a hand as he was a bit behind.

“I thought ‘great, this is going to be tough’,” Rodrigo said. “I sat down and introduced myself. Samatar was a bit cautious to start with, but when I told him I was from Mexico we started talking about Mexican soccer players. From then on he trusted me, I was on his side.”

“Samatar was starting from scratch, and I could see how unsure he was. Every time he took a piece, he double checked with me that he was putting it in the right place. I kept nudging him to try and see if it worked – if it didn’t, it was easy to fix.”

By the end of the class, Samatar had almost caught up with the other students. “He was very happy, but more importantly, proud of his work,” Rodrigo said.

“I did nothing; only sat next to him and gave him the confidence to make mistakes.”

Samara, robotics teacher at Mount Alexander College

Samara Kelly, robotics teacher at Mount Alexander College

Helping one = helping all

Samara has appreciated the attention Rodrigo was able to provide Samatar. “I could relax more, confident knowing that Samatar was getting the help he needed, which lead to a much more ordered classroom environment,” Samara said.

“Their relationship has grown really strong and Samatar’s confidence in this class has sky-rocketed due to the encouragement he got from Rodrigo. He’s the reason Samatar is so focused in class. We’re both going to miss having Rodrigo around.”

Samara said the partnership between Mount Alexander College and In2science is extremely valuable. “The experience and knowledge that external mentors bring to the school adds another layer of depth to student learning,” she said. “They help students explore real-life applications of science knowledge and provide excellent examples of how awesome a life in science is beyond school.”

In2science reflections: October 2015

By | News

Looking to the future as placements draw to a close

October was always going to be a tough month for our mentors. The looming presence of university exams has been further compounded by placements coming to a close. After 10 weeks of visiting schools, it can be tough to say goodbye. A big thank you from all the team here at In2science to our volunteer mentors who have generously donated their time and energy throughout Semester 2.

Alternative careers Q&A panel

In2science’s alternative career Q&A panel: Claire Farrugia (MC; In2science Coordinator at RMIT University), Maja Divjak (GTAC), Sarah Matthee (Engineers Without Borders), Sally Lowenstein (State Emergency Service), Jonathan Shearer (Scienceworks) and Daryl Holland (University of Melbourne).

Where to now?

Mentoring in a classroom can have a profound impact on university students.

Some mentors know exactly what they are going to do after finishing their studies. Others find a passion for talking about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and want to find a way to make a career of sharing what they love.

The final In2science professional development session for the semester focused on helping mentors discover what might lie ahead. Hosted by In2science at RMIT University, the ‘alternate careers’ Q&A panel brought together scientific animators, communicators, education officers and journalists to talk about their jobs and how they got there. Mentors were certainly prepared with some cracking questions and engrossing post-panel discussions.

Congratulations to Dr Alan Finkel and Simon McKeon

October was also a big month the In2science Advisory Board, with Patron Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE being announced as Australia’s next Chief Scientist and Advisory Board Chair Simon McKeon AO appointed as Chancellor of Monash University. Congratulations on your appointments!

Stories from the schools

  • Dominic Carroll_Brunswick

    Dominic spoke to students at Brunswick SC about extra dimensions beyond the three we can see.

    Marson has been mentoring at Glen Eira College this semester, helping year 9 students with their engineering project. Students were challenged to build a 30cm-tall tower using limited resources that could withstand earthquakes while under weight stress. Marson guided the students through the engineering process from brainstorming and research through to design, testing and trialling the structures using an earthquake platform while gradually increasing weight loads.

  • Rebecca brought in some pet spiders for her science class at Roxburgh College to see while discussing digestive systems. Live arachnids certainly inspired the students to ask interesting questions about caring for a unique pet and what they’re fed!
  • Mentor Gemma has been on placement at Werribee Secondary College this semester helping students with practical classes in science and mathematics. Gemma  has been helping students test which shapes sink faster than others and relating these findings to how different fishes have adapted and evolved to minimise drag and resistance in water.
  • Dom has been mentoring students at Brunswick Secondary College this semester. Although Dom’s speciality is in biological sciences, his class was learning astrophysics, so to mix things up a bit Dom brought in demonstrations to challenge the class with the idea that although we can comprehend three dimensions, physicists can use maths to understand that there are many, many more dimensions beyond what we can see with our own eyes.

Events around Melbourne: November 2015

By | Events

The year might be winding up, but there’s still plenty of events and competitions happening throughout November to keep you busy!


LOGO_IYS_en_PrintDirty Secrets

When: Now until 24 November
Where: LAB-14 Gallery, Carlton Connect, 700 Swanston St, Carlton VIC 3053
Cost: Free

Have we forgotten to consider the soil as living and breathing, as the source of our food and many life saving pharmaceuticals, a contributor to our physical and psychological wellbeing, an important store of carbon, and water purifier?

Celebrating International Year of Soils, Dirty Secrets uncovers the hidden curiosities buried in soil. It encourages a deeper search for our connection to the land and its importance to our survival.

Read more.


Engineering & Information Technology showcase 2015

When: Wednesday 25 November, 5:30-9pm
Where: Union Hall, La Trobe University, Bundoora VIC 3083

Cost: Free

La Trobe University have a longstanding history in innovation. Get a sneak peek into the future by attending the 24th Annual Engineering & Information Technology Showcase on Wednesday November 25 – highlighting the very best student projects from a variety of Engineering and IT disciplines.

Read more.


IYL_Logo_ColorVertSwinburne ‘See the light’ competition

When: 25 October – 27 November
Where: Victoria
Cost: Free

The International Year of Light is a worldwide celebration of all things light, from the technologies that use it and that make our 21st century way of life possible, to the wonders of what light reveals of the universe around us.

Swinburne University of Technology wants to know what you think is amazing about light and we want you to show it in your school science lab. Victorian high school students (years 7-10) are invited to conduct and record an experiment that investigates something that they find interesting or inspiring about light. In the short video, the students should explain the experiment and what it shows about the amazing nature of light. The best entry in each category will win $250 to be shared by the student(s) and $500 for their school to use as they choose.

Read more.


ConocoPhillips Science Experience

When: Over three days in January 2016
Where: University of Melbourne, Parkville, and RMIT University, Melbourne CBD
Cost: $120

The ConocoPhillips Science Experience is returning to the University of Melbourne (13-15 January) and RMIT University (19-21 January) for the summer. This hands-on program gives year 9 and 10 students a chance to experience science topics under the guidance of passionate scientists.

Application close in December. Read more.


Impossible Climate: Safe Climate Restoration Under the Microscope

When: Wednesday 4 November, 6-8:30pm
Where: Ground floor, 700 Swanston Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Cost: Free

Advocacy for the restoration of a safe climate calls for solutions that the world does not currently possess.. The central question remains ‘is safe climate restoration possible and, if not, what level of action is now morally defensible and yet practically achievable?’ Join Breakthrough for this special forum to examine and critique the recently published discussion paper StrikingTargets, with author Philip Sutton.

Read more.

Meet an In2science school: Auburn High School

By | Profiles

Kathryn Sobey is no stranger to In2science.

Kathryn Sobey, former In2science mentor and Science Domain Leader at  Auburn High School

Kathryn Sobey, former In2science mentor and Science Domain Leader at Auburn High School

As a former In2science mentor – and now the Science Domain Leader at Auburn High School – Kathryn has been a fantastic supporter of the program, experiencing the impact the program can have both as a volunteer mentor and as a teacher.

Kathryn was an In2science mentor at Footscray City College in her second year of university. “It was so formative in cementing my desire to be a teacher,” she said. “It was my first opportunity to see the classroom outside of a student’s perspective”.

As very proactive mentor, Kathryn was keen to make the most of her placement. “My placement teacher let me lead the class one day,” she said. “That was great, and an amazing opportunity that I don’t think I would have experienced anywhere else.”

A love of learning led her to pursue a career in teaching and she hasn’t looked back. “I love the intellectual challenge that being a teacher brings,” Kathryn said. “I can’t think of another profession where I would get the opportunity to practise problem-solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, resilience, leadership and innovation like teachers get to.”

Having In2science mentors visit Auburn High School has had an influence on both students and teaching staff alike. “We have loved having mentors in our classrooms to promote thinking about the deeper ideas of science and the world around us,” Kathryn said. “Teachers learn a lot when they are able to talk about what they do. It’s great to have the opportunity to do this with a mentor, someone who has fresh ideas and a fresh perspective. It can be both clarifying and gratifying to share your craft with someone else.”

Kathryn Sobey talking with studentsAuburn High School has hosted In2science mentors throughout 2015, with six mentors from Swinburne University of Technology visiting the school over two semesters. It is a relatively new school, having opened in 2014, and currently has around 300 students. The school has a culturally-diverse student population and run bilingual classes in French and Chinese.

“We are very proud of the diversity we enjoy within our school,” Kathryn said. “I love walking down the corridors to the tune of staff and student chatter in Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Hindi and Amharic.”

The cultural diversity at Auburn High School has led to some unique opportunities for mentoring. “It has been wonderful to host some Chinese-speaking In2Science mentors who have been able to step in and assist in this highly specialised role,” Kathryn said. “The mentors were able to go through the content at a slower pace with the students, which has been a huge benefit.”