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.”

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!