Meet a mentor: Rachael McCullough

By | Profiles

Rachael McColloughRachael McCullough

What are you studying? I’m studying a Bachelor of Science at The University of Melbourne with a major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a concurrent Diploma in Mathematical Sciences. I like both my courses because it’s an uncommon pairing! I love being able to identify connections between biology and maths because I feel like there is still a huge barrier between them.

Tell us about your In2science placement: This is my first semester as an In2science mentor! I spend an hour and a half every week in a year 8 science class at Maribyrnong Secondary College. The class is all boys, which is unique, and I’ve also had the chance to work with a student teacher in the classroom. Tossing lesson plan ideas around with another student has been a great learning experience. The balance between my science knowledge and her expertise in behaviour management made for a great joint teaching style that I think we both learnt something from. I also love my class; they’ve got so much character! Sometimes they’re a challenge to keep under control but they are easy to connect with and even say hello to me in the schoolyard, i.e. they think I’m cool!

Why did you become an In2science mentor? One of my mathematics lecturers spoke very highly about the program during a lecture last semester. She mentioned that she had been an in2science mentor in the past and got a lot out of it. I love her teaching style and idolise her quite a bit so thought I would apply to be in the program as well.

What’s the best thing about In2science? There are obvious benefits to having an extra teaching aid in the classroom to talk about life at  university, answer questions, extend students’ learning and engage less interested students, but I am going to be a little self-absorbed and mention the benefits for the mentors. I’ve found gaining an insight into how science is taught in high schools extremely informative. I’ve been able to see ‘behind the scenes’ of a science classroom, something that you don’t see when you’re a high school student yourself. For anyone passionate about science and considering going into any area of science, science education is paramount. In2science allows our country’s future scientists, researchers, teachers and communicators to see the teaching of science in action so that we can make informed decisions about how best to improve it.

What’s the worst thing about In2science? I think it can be difficult for new mentors to know what they’re meant to be doing in the classroom. The flexibility of the program means that mentors can take on a huge variety of different roles, but when the classroom teacher is also new to the program and doesn’t really know what it’s all about either, the first few placements can make mentors feel a bit superfluous.

What inspired you to study science and mathematics? I was raised on hearty servings of Sir David Attenborough documentaries and episodes of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos in a house that had a telescope in one corner, a hand-made metal detector in the other, and a bookcase so full of mathematical and scientific history that the shelves were buckling. So it’s still a real mystery where my interest in science and discovery came from.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? That is a very good question. I’ll let you guys know when I figure that one out.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist or mathematician, who would it be and why? Brian Cox, because I would like to see his smile in real life.

Events around Melbourne: October 2015

By | Events

In2science’s partner universities are holding a range of engaging, inspiring and thought-provoking events throughout October. With Melbourne Knowledge Week running from 19-25 October, there’s even more events to get stuck into!

Professor Andrew Greentree from RMIT University.

Professor Andrew Greentree from RMIT University.

Seeing into the body, one photon at a time

When: Wednesday 30 September, 6:30-8:00pm
Where: Building 80, Level 7, Room 1, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC 3000
Cost: Free

Light is vital to life. To best understand and use light, we must understand its classical and quantum aspects. Light surrounds us, heats us, feeds us, and for most of us it guides us. But because it is so universal, we often take it for granted.

In this talk, Professor Andrew Greentree will give an introduction to the quantum mechanical properties of light and introduce the particle of light – the photon. He will demonstrate some of the surprising results that arise from applying quantum mechanics. He will also introduce some of the techniques being used in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics to generate new ‘windows into the body’ to understand the physics of life.

Read more.


 

Fifty Years of Space Technology at the University of Melbourne

When: Monday 5 October, 5:30-7:30pm
Where: Brown Theatre, Electronic and Electrical Engineering Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC 3052
Cost: Free

Australia’s first satellite was built by engineering students at the University of Melbourne. Fifty years later, a new group of students are looking to built the university’s second satellite. Join current and former students for an enlightening discussion about these projects and how the University of Melbourne makes their way to space.

Read more.


 

Quantum Mechanics Made Easy-ish

When: Monday 19 October, 8:00-9:15pm
Where: Croft Institute, Croft Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Cost: $14

Baffled by quantum mechanics? Congratulations, you’re doing it right! This Laneway Learning class will show you the 20th century’s most reality-shaking theory in action, and tell you the things we do know and the things that not even Einstein thought made sense.

Presented by physicist and science communicator Chris Lassig, this special Laneway Learning class for Melbourne Knowledge week will give you an easy-ish understanding of quantum mechanics.

Read more.


 

 Science without research, education without teaching: alternative careers Q&A panel

When: Wednesday 21 October, 6:00-7:30pm
Where: Kaleide Theatre, Building 80, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC 3000
Cost: Free

Love science, but don’t want to go into research? Adore education, but not sure if teaching is for you? Join a panel of special guests with diverse and inspiring careers for a special Q&A forum and pick their brains about how they transformed their careers into something different from the norm.

This In2science professional development session is open for all to register and join in.

Read more.


 

What-if-lecture-series-logoWhat if the safety of your food could never be assured?

When: Tuesday 27 October, 7:00-8:30pm
Where: Hawthorn Community Precinct, 584 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Cost: Free

How do we manage a safe food supply? Are some practices more risky than others? How do we make decisions about the food we consume; for example, should we drink raw milk?

Presented by Swinburne University of Technology and hosted by the City of Boroondara Library Service, this highly engaging talk showcases the exciting research and activities that Swinburne staff and students are working on right now.

Read more.


 

In2science reflections: September 2015

By | News

Growing minds, communicating science and mid-placement check-ins

September has been a busy month for In2science, with placements in full swing, mid-placement training and professional development sessions for mentors. Join us as we reflect on the month that was.

Emily and Lauren from Teach for Australia

Emily and Lauren from Teach for Australia

Developing our mentors

Once an In2science mentor starts their placement, their training and development doesn’t stop.

In late August, Emily and Lauren from Teach for Australia ran a professional development session about how to encourage students in maths and science. Covering positive framing, growth vs fixed mindset and behaviour management, Emily and Lauren gave our mentors some great tips for maximising their impact in the classroom.

September saw two bouts of training, starting with mid-placement training at each of the partner universities. This allowed mentors to come together, share experiences and discover how they navigate similar challenges during their placements. In late September, science communicator Jason Major ran our second professional development session, guiding mentors through methods on engaging students in controversial science topics and finding links between science and society.

Stories from the schools

Jason Major presenting our second professional development session on science communication.

Jason Major presenting our second professional development session on science communication.

In2science coordinators have been busy visiting placements in the final weeks of term 3, with many visits continuing into term 4. Mentors are helping out with some really interesting activities and sharing their experiences in science and maths with many students. Here’s a snapshot of what our mentors are getting up to.

  • Mentor Zi Kuan helped year 9 students at Mount Alexander College to dissect sheep brains during a general science class. The students were fascinated with the small size of these brains and questioned whether the areas primarily responsible for the language processing in humans (Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area) were also present in sheep. Zi Kuan was a great help in the class, both with the set-up and dissection of the brains, but also in getting the students to think about things in a different way. It was fantastic to see the students easily recall the different areas of the brain and describe their function.
  • Rachael has been mentoring in an all-boys year 8 general science class at Maribyrnong Secondary College. For the end of term 3, Rachael showed the students how to make their own fossils. The boys relished the hands on activity and weren’t afraid to get a bit messy with the Plaster of Paris! Rachael presented in a clear and engaging way, helped the students create their fossils and discussed questions on fossils ranging from ferns to dinosaurs.
  • Mentor Nathan has been working with an accelerated learning year 8 science class at Reservoir High School, guiding students on their journey to research, design and execute their own experiments for a science fair. Nathan’s probing questions have helped students think deeply about their chosen science topic, encouraging them to think deeply about the quality of their source information and how robust their experiments will be. We are excited to see the results at their science fair in term 4!
  • Science and accounting student Jen has been assisting a year 9 maths class at Roxburgh College. Working primarily with a group of female students in the class, Jen has encouraged and supported these students as they apply mathematics to finance problems, such as interest rates, discounts and profit margins. Jen’s passion for maths is certainly rubbing off!

Meet a mentor: Shaurya Nagpal

By | Profiles

In2science mentor Shaurya Nagpal outside Mill Park CollegeShaurya Nagpal

What are you studying? I am studying a double degree in Engineering (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) (Hons) and Business (International Business) at RMIT University. I like my course because it provides me with insights into both the engineering and business industries. The problem solving skills I learn from the engineering side are transferable to the business side which is useful. Every day in class we go through a different problem which constantly challenges me and keeps me engaged.

Tell us about your In2science placement: So far I’ve been involved in two placements at Mill Park Secondary College. In2science has now become something to look forward to during the week. I like to think that I’m showing the students that working in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field is more interesting than they may have previously thought.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I believed In2science would be a great way to share my experiences and help develop my own communication and public speaking skills. I quickly realised my contributions had the potential to change the students’ outlook on STEM. Hopefully this will lead to more scientists, engineers and mathematicians in the world.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The most enjoyable experience I have had so far was helping a student grasp the concept of photosynthesis, which was tripping them up.

What’s the worst thing about In2science? When you have no idea what’s going on. The first class I was in was studying biology. Let’s just say biology is my Achilles heel!

What inspired you to study engineering? My work experience at GM Holden In year 10 consolidated my interest in engineering. Can’t say much more about it because secrets and stuff.

 What do you want to do after you finish university? After university I would like to become a business advisor for technology companies. It’s a constantly changing field so there will never be a boring day at work.

 If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist/mathematician, who would it be and why? Nikola Tesla, for inventing alternating current electricity supply systems and because he was a badass!

Meet a mentor: Shelley Haslett

By | Profiles

Shelley Haslett

Profile picture of mentor Shelley HaslettWhat are you studying? I’m doing a Bachelor Applied Science (Food Technology and Nutrition) at RMIT University. I really enjoy studying food because it is something really important that we deal with in our everyday lives, often without thinking about it. I love to cook and eat: understanding the science behind cooking takes it to a whole new level of delicious!

Tell us about your In2science placement: I am in my second semester at Glen Eira College. I have really enjoyed getting to know the students and hearing about the things they are interested in. It has also been a really great experience to join in on the practical classes and help the students to really think about what is going on, not just follow the instructions on the sheet.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I became a mentor because it sounded like a really good opportunity to be involved in the community. I also felt that if I had had a peer mentor in my high school science class I might have actually paid a bit more attention and realised how interesting, fun and relevant science actually is to our everyday lives.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The students. It is so great to see young people who are enthusiastic about the possibilities in their future, science or not.

What’s the worst thing about In2science? When the classes are on something I have no idea about! Like geology – I don’t ever remember taking a geology class, but now I have. The students taught me a lot!

Who inspired you to study science? My inspirations are Heston Blumenthal and Jamie Oliver: Heston because he does some amazing, crazy, fun things with food, and Jamie because he’s really into sustainability and giving back to the community.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I really want to be involved in the development of food products that are sustainable from the moment they are planted to the moment they are eaten. This is so important because of the expanding population and decrease in farming land – basically I want to feed the world.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, who would it be and why? Jane Goodall. She has been so immersed and passionate about her work for such a long period of time. She would have some amazing stories to tell!

National Science Week 2015: events around Melbourne

By | Events

Happy National Science Week!

natsciwk_skyscraper1Australia’s annual celebration of science is on again from 15-23 August. Celebrating the International Year of Light, this year’s citizen science project Galaxy Explorer puts you in the astronomer’s seat. Classify and size galaxies to help scientists are the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research better understand how the universe was created and how it evolves.

Head to the National Science Week website to explore the hundreds of events across Australia. In the meantime, here are just a few to whet your science whistle.

Energised Fashion

Where: Design Hub, RMIT University, Melbourne VIC
When: 2.00-5.30pm Saturday 22 August
Cost: Free!

Can clothes be smart? RMIT University’s Energised Fashion Runway will feature applications of wearable technology in a number of domains including fashion, communications, entertainment, medical and healthcare, occupational health and safety.

Get involved with the Hands-On Lab throughout the fashion show or take part in a Wearable Technologies Workshop earlier in the day.

See Energised Fashion at the National Science Week website for more information.

Astronomy and Light Festival

Where: Scienceworks, Spotswood VIC
When: 5.00-9.00pm Saturday 22 August
Cost: Adults $7, children $5, families $20

The astronomy and Light Festival will be an evening of light (and dark) related fun at Scienceworks in Spotswood, featuring astronomers and optics researchers from across Victoria and Australia. A public event for all ages.

See Astronomy and Light Festival at the National Science Week website for more information.

Thumb_PARTICLE-FEVER-300x300Particle Fever

Where: Melbourne School of Design, Lecture theatre 1, University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC
When: 6.30pm, Wednesday 19 August
Cost: Free!

Particle Fever follows six scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of the universe during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale presents a free screening of the film, with a special introduction by Professor Ray Volkas, Head of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne.

See Particle Fever at the National Science Week website for more information.

Silver Screen Science

Where: ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne VIC
When: 7.00pm Thursday 20, Friday 21 and Saturday 22 August
Cost: Free!

Hosted by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Silver Screen Science is a contemporary science film festival featuring Hollywood blockbusters Contagion (Thursday 20 August), Gattaca (Friday 21 August) and Outbreak (Saturday 22 August).

Film screenings are followed by thought provoking dialogue as medical researchers, health professionals, artists and science fiction writers separate fact from fiction.

See Science in the Square at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute website for more information.