In2science mentor, Emma Holder shares how her high school experience motivated her to mentor at university

By | News, Profiles

In high school, In2science mentor Emma Holder was lucky to have a teacher who had significant influence on her decision to study science at university. This teacher would often go on “mind-bending tangents during class” and Emma was left inspired by someone who was so intelligent and engaging, which in turn influenced her own curiosity and ambition.

This high school experience was an important motivator in Emma starting her own In2science journey when commencing studies at Swinburne University of Technology. Emma notes, “I wanted a chance to have a similar impact on someone, improve my science communication skills and break down stereotypes to inspire more gender diversity in the field”.

At Swinburne, Emma is completing a Bachelor of Science, majoring in physics with a minor in applied mathematics. This combination of specialisation and insight made for a perfect placement when Emma was matched with a Year 8 maths class at St Joseph’s College in Ferntree Gully in Semester 1. The placement was off to a challenging start when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all students to transition to remote learning. However, Emma was able to work weekly with a small group of students online. These students needed some extension to keep them motivated during this unprecedented time, so Emma focused on collaborative problem solving to keep them engaged.

In Semester 2 Emma took on an additional Year 12 student mentee with whom she quickly developed a rapport. Emma says, “Although most of our sessions were not focused on STEM subjects, we spent hours having deep philosophical conversations, sharing life experiences and talking about our hobbies. I felt like we formed a really lovely friendship”.

For Emma, the most rewarding thing about her studies is how natural phenomena can be described using mathematical language. Emma elaborates, “Physics is a field with so many real-world applications and there is always something new to learn that will make your brain hurt”. When thinking about life after university, Emma doesn’t know what she wants to do yet, but is fascinated by postgraduate studies in quantum or optical science.

We asked Emma what she’d like to say to the students in her In2science class as the year’s end approaches and she replied, “The people that do what they love are always the coolest in my eyes. I’ve learned that it’s important to be curious and open-minded, and that learning does not happen just from study, but from everything around you. For me, developing a passion for learning has been essential for my studies, but even more importantly… for my personal growth”.

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

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

In2science celebrates 2020 with its first online Awards Showcase

By | Events, News

In2science’s Annual Awards is the most highly anticipated event of the year, providing an opportunity to honour achievements of participating schools, teachers, mentors and students throughout Victoria.  For the first time in this program’s history, In2science shared the stories of our very worthy Award recipients in a video showcase.

In2science Program Director, Dr Alison Every led the proceedings and Acknowledgment of Country before The Honourable Professor John Brumby AO, Chair of the In2science Advisory Board, took to the camera. In his keynote speech, Professor Brumby reflected on the challenges of the year, thanking all those involved in the In2science community for a successful year in STEM peer mentoring.

Dr Every spoke at length about the launch of In2science at The University of Western Australia and introduced the first In2science award winner from Western Australia. Other mentor finalists were unaware if they had won until the premiere, building even greater excitement! We heard from our outstanding mentee awardees, who sent videos from their homes or at school to reflect on how important their In2science mentors were during such a tumultuous year.

“This has been a really rewarding program. I feel as though I am more motivated and inspired to get into science when I’m older. Not only that, I’ve made friends. I feel I’ve had someone to talk to, who’s like me. – Alex, Year 8 student

St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully, Science Leader, and In2science alumnus, Nick Harvey, was a worthy winner of the Mentor Support Award, after receiving significant praise from mentor, Emma. Bundoora Secondary College, winners of the School Engagement Award were one of the first schools in 2020 to invite In2science to mentor 30 of their Big Picture Academy students during remote learning. Mentors joined small groups of school students online during remote learning to help them visualise their STEM projects. The positive impact of these interactions on the students was evident as they thanked their mentors for their support.

After the broadcast of the Awards Showcase, supporters of In2science, our mentors, finalists, award winners and their families were invited to a private celebration event. Professor Brumby introduced our special guest, Victorian STEM Education Ambassador Dr Tien Kieu MP, who gave a humbling speech about the importance of STEM education and lifelong learning, noting that persistence is the key to addressing the challenges of today, because even experts in their fields can still find their disciplines difficult.

“As a professional scientist, physicist in fact, I still find science very difficult, but rewarding. It is difficult, there is not illusion about that. It is so important for students to have availability to speak to someone who can explain the concepts and answer the questions, but equally important is for people to share their own experiences.” – Dr Tien Kieu MP, VIC STEM Education Ambassador

After the formal proceedings, The University of Melbourne coordinators Julia Cleghorn and Hayden Dalton led the participants through a friendly quiz before the In2science team initiated private rooms for groups of 4 participants to get to know each other. The groups were diverse and included In2science Advisory Board members, mentors, In2science team members, school and industry representatives and friends and families of award winners. This diversity enabled conversations that were stimulating and dynamic, with topics ranging from “What’s your STEM journey?” to “Memorable experiences of 2020”. To finish, participants reflected on their group conversations and a hugely challenging, but ultimately, rewarding, year, before Dr Every formally closed the event.

In2science would like to sincerely thank Boeing for their generous support in sponsoring In2science’s first online Awards Showcase. Special thanks to Dr Tien Kieu MP for joining our celebration event. We would like to acknowledge our program partners, The Victorian Department of Education and Training, CSL Behring, the Howmet Aerospace Foundation and to Dr Peter Laver and the Selby Scientific Foundation for their generous support.

 

 

There’s no party like a Zoom party: In2science mentors test their STEM skills and interrogate their coordinators

By | News

It is the middle of yet another challenging semester where Melbourne remains in lockdown. Exams are looming and placements will soon be wrapping up for the year. Apart from small picnics with close friends, there are few other things besides falling COVID-19 cases to look forward to. However, the In2science team always have something up their sleeves. To lift spirits and connect with our outstanding community of volunteer university student mentors, we organised an online event that celebrated the enthusiasm, diverse experiences and incredible minds of this huge, multi-university family.

 

Forty-five mentors from La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT University and Monash University spent a Thursday evening online to partake in a few hours of laughter and friendly competition. The session was hosted by our talented University of Melbourne coordinators, Hayden Dalton and Julia Cleghorn, who began the proceedings by randomly creating small groups of mentors from our partner universities. This was a unique challenge for participants because it is a rare thing to partner up with people you don’t necessarily know in social gatherings. However, one of the amazing benefits of the In2science program is that it brings together like-minded individuals from multiple universities in a space to interact where they would not normally.

Each group created a team name and participated in games and quizzes to test their diverse general knowledge and STEM skills. The prize was worth competing for; UberEats vouchers and potential free dinners were at stake! Once the winning team was crowned the next item on the agenda was something the other In2science coordinators were not looking forward to.

For the remainder of the evening, each In2science University Coordinator was invited to share their university and STEM journey in one minute before throwing themselves at the mercy of the mentors in the room. Mentors were invited to ask anything of their coordinators, and In2science Director, Alison Every fielded the questions to an eager crowd.

Two hours went by in a blink of an eye. In2science mentors and coordinators learned much from each other and felt more connected than ever. For a few hours the challenges of the year were forgotten, and we were reminded of what we can look forward to when they are finally behind us.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our special event, it was a memorable experience that In2science hopes to replicate as soon as we can – and in person, too.

CSL Behring Broadmeadows announces 4-year partnership with In2science

By | News

CSL Behring Broadmeadows, an arm of the global biotechnology leader CSL, has announced a 4 year partnership with In2science to enhance the delivery of STEM peer-mentoring to local schools in the Hume community.

The partnership is the first of its kind for CSL Behring Broadmeadows, who will now support In2science in providing schools the City of Hume additional STEM university mentors and outreach opportunities. With CSL Behring as an official partner of In2science, more than 150 lower secondary school students in Melbourne’s outer north-western suburbs will be supported over the next 4 years. To complement the In2science program, CSL Behring’s highly skilled STEM employees will head into classrooms and encourage science and mathematics students to consider the vast STEM career opportunities available after university.

In2science Program Director, Alison Every is thrilled CSL Behring is an official partner to the program. “Having corporate partners such as CSL Behring allows In2science to recruit more student mentors, provide better learning outcomes to the students they help teach in the classroom, and ultimately encourage school students to study STEM subjects in the future” she said.

“We are really excited to harness the knowledge and experience of CSL Behring’s people to enhance the In2science program for students in the Broadmeadows area,” she said.

CSL Behring’s parent company, CSL, proudly sponsored In2science’s 2019 Annual Awards, and we are is looking forward to working collaboratively with CSL Behring Broadmeadows over the next four years to deliver and further improve the In2science program for students in the Hume community.

To find out more about how Industry partnerships can support STEM engagement for secondary school students, please contact In2science Program Director, Dr Alison Every.

In2science mentors create online resources for classrooms with The Content Creation Project

By | News, Profiles

   The mentors of In2science are passionate about sharing their love of STEM. With many unable to do so in classrooms this year, we decided to find more innovative ways for these enthusiastic volunteer university students to provide a different style of science engagement to the future scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of Melbourne.

The Content Creation Project was launched to siphon mentors’ communication skills and knowledge into free online resources that teachers and students can access at any time to enhance their learning experience.

 

These resources can be used to introduce a topic to students, assist their learning or provide extension to enthusiastic individuals. Vivian’s video has already been presented to a Year 8 biology class and Sarah’s revision content has been shared with regional VCE Biology In2science mentees.

The In2science Content Creation Project has enabled our mentors to produce and share inspiring STEM content that relates to their studies or personal interest. This innovative approach has enabled mentors to continue engaging with our partner schools despite the multiple transitions students have faced this year.

You can find all In2science resources at our Youtube channel, and on Twitter or Facebook

Howmet Aerospace Foundation supports In2science mentoring and STEM engagement in south-east Melbourne

By | News

In2science is delighted to announce that the Howmet Aerospace Foundation is funding our peer-mentoring program to support more secondary school students in south-east Melbourne in 2021.

In 2019, In2science recruited and trained more than 300 mentors who mentored over 5000 students. Thanks to the Howmet Aerospace Foundation, In2science can now recruit and train an additional 20 university student mentors who will be placed in up to 10 low socio-economic (SES) schools in south-east Melbourne in 2021. This will help In2science increase STEM engagement and career aspirations for more than 350 Victorian secondary school students.

The Howmet Aerospace Foundation is the charitable arm of Howmet Aerospace, a leader in advanced engineered solutions, and invests in STEM education and development initiatives, particularly to increase access to STEM fields in underrepresented groups. Howmet Fastening Systems is based in south-east Melbourne. This partnership provides an opportunity for Howmet employees to participate in STEM engagement with our partner schools in a meaningful capacity. Importantly, students will have a better understanding of the tangible connections between the STEM curriculum and the myriad opportunities available when they pursue a rewarding career in STEM.

To find out more about how Industry partnerships can support STEM engagement for secondary school students, please contact In2science Program Director, Dr Alison Every.

Enjoy the ride: How In2science mentor, Julia Ogon encourages students to find their passion and never stop learning

By | News, Profiles

Julia Ogon, an In2science mentor from RMIT University wants high school students to know that choosing to study something you are passionate about is as important as being mindful of where it will take you. It is a stressful thing to consider as a young adult and is the main reason she chose to become an In2science mentor.

“I wish I had someone to give me advice and share their personal experience before deciding on schools and degrees”, Julia writes. By mentoring and helping in classes she wanted to show younger students that it was okay to not follow the most common path to your goals and “anything can be achieved if you just go for it, no matter your age.”

Julia combined her love for creativity and mechanical systems by pursuing a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design. Julia’s main drive in doing something multi-disciplinary was to make sure it was something that evoked passion and was useful in solving real-world problems.

Her studies took her to Spain last year where she completed an internship at an international research facility, focusing on Metal Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing in Barcelona. “It was one of the best years of my life”, she reflects, because in addition to practising mechanical engineering and design Julia immersed herself in a new culture. When Julia returned to Melbourne, she immediately signed up to In2science so she could share her experience with others.

Although it has been a rocky year, with a limited opportunity to mentor in classrooms, it hasn’t stopped Julia from thinking outside the box. Along with joining weekly virtual classrooms at Keysborough College, Julia has participated in the In2science content creation project, where mentors make short videos for teachers to share with students in their online classes. Her first video explores the endless possibilities of 3D printing.

When asked about her In2science experience and what advice to give to university students interested in joining, Julia says, “Mentoring is a lot of fun, very rewarding and does not take up a lot of your time. Being able to pass on experience and advice is an important step”, but more importantly “your contribution may inspire someone to realise what their future can be!”

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

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

In2science eMentoring program pilot at The University of Western Australia supports students in the Peel Region

By | News

Seventeen students from four regional schools in Western Australia’s southern Peel region were encouraged to consider a career in STEM this year thanks to the launch of In2science’s eMentoring program by The University of Western Australia (UWA) with support from the Alcoa Foundation. Volunteer university mentors, through UWA’s Aspire program, connected weekly with Year 9 – 11 students online to build STEM aspirations and close the disadvantage gap between regional, outer metropolitan and metropolitan school students.

Bronwen Veale, UWA School Partnerships Coordinator, who oversaw this successful pilot reflected on the importance of peer mentoring, “Being able to connect online in this way means that high school students can still meet and learn from university students, despite living away from the Perth metropolitan area”.

In its first week, Bronwen observed enormous enthusiasm from the participating students of Pinjarra Senior High School, Harvey Senior High School, Gilmore College and Coondanup College.

The pilot, which ran for 5 weeks, concentrated on building rapport, outlining goals and increasing student participation and engagement in STEM by breaking down negative stereotypes, forming positive associations with students’ sense of personal identity and providing them with tangible examples that STEM is interesting, relevant and important.

Nine Aspire Ambassadors studying STEM degrees were chosen to mentor students who were carefully selected by their schools. Selected students demonstrated an interest in STEM and either had diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, were first-in-family to consider tertiary education or were facing financial disadvantage.

Mentor, Vish, who is studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, was excited to connect with students from his old school. When reflecting on his own student experience at Gilmore College, he said, “I graduated from a low socio-economic high school and so going to that high school I felt that I missed out on these university connections and opportunities because it was located so far away from university.”

Treasure, a mentor studying a Doctor of Medicine at UWA, expressed the importance of role models, saying, “Part of you having dreams and aspirations is keeping those dreams alive and sometimes when you don’t have those mentors in your lives it’s easy for those dreams to fade”.

“My mentees made my time really enjoyable as an eMentor. I could see that they all shined in their own way and developed more interest in entering university and the science field.” – An Qi, In2science eMentor and UWA Aspire Ambassador at Coodanup College

An Qi, a mentor studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science placed with Coodanup College said at the conclusion of the pilot, “It was definitely a great experience for me. I could see that both my student mentees and I have developed new skills throughout the program. I developed better organisational, communication and leadership skills. They gained awareness of pathways that are available to them, study tips and science careers. My mentees made my time really enjoyable as an eMentor. I could see that they all shined in their own way and developed more interest in entering university and the science field. I believe our positive interactions during the program really helped us achieve more than what we expected. We frequently communicated about high school experience and future aspirations. The bond we made definitely helped us open up and learn from each other.”

In2science is delighted that our highly trained mentors can spark enthusiasm for STEM study and careers in a growing number of secondary school students around the country. In2science is exceedingly grateful to the Aspire program team and the Alcoa Foundation for their outstanding execution of, and support for, this important initiative.

That’s a wrap! In2science celebrates Semester 1 with first online professional development session with Groupwork Centre

By | News

To round off a very memorable semester, In2science wanted to celebrate the dedication, enthusiasm and resilience of our mentors through an uncertain and challenging semester. The move, en masse, to online modes of communication and collaboration presented a great opportunity for mentors from our partner universities all over Victoria to join us for a celebration and professional development workshop where they learned skills to use in the future as mentors and in their careers.

In2science collaborated with local Thornbury collective, Groupwork Centre to provide our mentors with a dynamic online session on effective engagement and facilitation skills in mentoring. Facilitators Liz Franzmann and Henry Fowkes designed the workshop to focus on the scientific perspective of how young people engage online and to further empower their mentees with emotional resilience. In learning about the SCARF model, mentors came away with a framework to facilitate meaningful conversations with mentees so participants feel safe and empowered to share ideas and opinions.

This was the first time In2science offered an online professional development session and it was Groupwork Centre’s largest group of attendees in an online training session. Over 50 In2science mentors attended with all partner universities, La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT University and Monash University well represented. There was a healthy mix of content delivery and application using smaller groups in breakout rooms, with many mentors commenting that 1.5 hours just flew by.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Over 90% of mentors agreed that they learned valuable new content and now had strategies they could confidently apply in their own mentoring. One mentor commented that, “just chatting with other people who have similar values in science education” was a highlight, and another said that the role-playing activity in small groups to illustrate communication micro-skills helped them “learn a lot…since it was a practical and real example of what could actually happen.”

It was a pleasure to host Groupwork Centre and provide In2science mentors with a valuable experience they can use when interacting with young people and others in future workplaces. We look forward to working with Groupwork Centre later in the year to expand the foundational skills presented in this initial workshop.

Problem-solving and curiosity is the heart of engineering, says In2science mentor Jacob Maynard

By | News, Profiles

 

Engineering is more than mathematical equations and building blocks. In2science mentor, Jacob Maynard has been debunking these stereotypes in his class at South Oakleigh College since he joined the program in 2019. For Jacob, who is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at Monash University, engineering is ultimately about curiosity and problem-solving.

Jacob specialises in “materials engineering” and chose to pursue this degree because “it is challenging, but so rewarding when you get your head around a new concept or figure out a way to solve a problem”. He joined In2science because he wanted to share his experiences with younger people. Practically, he got the opportunity to demonstrate this by leading a physics experiment about light and remembers this as being a significant highlight of his placement. He says, “It was really cool to be able to combine my scientific knowledge of the topic with the relationships I had built with the students over the semester”.

To take this passion for engineering further, Jacob wants to work in the sustainability and renewables sector. When asked why, Jacob elaborates, “Engineering provides you with a better understanding of how the things we take for granted in our everyday lives actually work and why they’ve been designed the way they have, but also encourages you to challenge those ideas and constantly search for ways to improve them”. This philosophy gives Jacob the motivation to develop materials that can decrease human impact on the environment. He is open to all the career pathways engineering allows and says, “as long as I am doing my part to arrest climate change and maintain our natural environment then I will be satisfied”.

“It was really cool to be able to combine my scientific knowledge of the topic with the relationships I had built with the students over the semester.” – Jacob Maynard, In2science mentor at South Oakleigh College

When reflecting on the In2science program, Jacob says that the experience is an amazing professional development opportunity for university students. In addition to networking within a dynamic and rich community of like-minded STEM enthusiasts and professionals, Jacob says that university students looking to get involved in In2science should, “Do it! Being able to share your experience with younger students to help them on their journey and extend their understanding of science is extremely rewarding”. After all, “curiosity if one of the most important ingredients of learning”.

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

 

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