In2science mentor, Angus Watson tells students why it is okay to change your mind

By | News, Profiles

As we go through school, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up or what we want to study after high school. But what happens if you are not sure of the opportunities or you change your mind? These questions are reasons why Angus Watson, an Honours student in the Department of Microbiology at La Trobe University, joined the In2science mentoring program.


Angus begun his tertiary education at La Trobe University undertaking a Bachelor of Biomedicineas he “wasn’t sure of the options and was influenced by the limited resources around him”. One of the great options at university is that once you are enrolled in a course, it is relatively easy to transfer to another course! Transferring to a course in a similar field also means that you are likely to receive ‘credits’ for subjects you have previously completed, meaning you won’t have to start a new course from the start. This worked in Angus’s favour, as while there were parts of the Biomedicine course Angus enjoyed, ultimately, he felt that the course wasn’t the right fit for him and decided to transfer to a  Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences instead. “When I transferred from Biomedicine to Animal & Veterinary Biosciences, I was surprised by the similarities between the courses”, Angus says, which is an experience that led Angus to join In2science, to discuss the overlap in STEM fieldssubjects and concepts with his student.  

Angus believes that one of the factors that helped him transfer between courses were his transferrable STEM skills, including scientific writing and communication. These transferrable skills have also helped Angus in his job as a veterinary nurse by providing a pet owner with more information about parasitic diseases and their treatment. This would have been difficult to do without drawing on lectures and practical classes from his undergraduate degree. Outside of his university degree, Angus is in the process of publishing a fantasy novel. Angus explains how many of the skills have learnt throughout my STEM journey have also equipped me in progressing my writing career. 

Looking back on his STEM journey, Angus wished he had  more positive influences to guide him through high school and into university, which  also inspired him to join In2science. Whilst Angus has only been a mentor for 9 weeks, he has already made a great impression on his mentees, providing information to the students to support their learning in the classroom. Angus’s advice to all upcoming STEM students is that “the field of STEM is diverse and that with the right mentor, you can forge your own unique path in STEM”. 

 

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.

 

Mid-semester fun with In2science mentors

By | Events, News

In2science offers a unique opportunity for students from La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University and RMIT University to increase aspirations and engagement in science and maths across Victorian classrooms. Having partnerships with multiple universities also means we take every opportunity to bring our mentors together to build connections that may not usually happen without access to a diverse network.

 

To lift spirits during yet another extensive lockdown and celebrate the incredible work In2science mentors do, we organised an evening of fun and games for everyone to participate in. Random teams were generated, and mentors got to know others from different universities to battle it out in multiple quizzes where there could be only one winning team.

Themes of the evening included scavenger hunts, biology, technology, and First Nations’ scientific discoveries with a sprinkling of probability and lateral thinking. It was a huge success with close to 50 mentors joining in the fun.

Thank you to The University of Melbourne’s In2science coordinator Hayden Dalton and Schools Outreach Coordinator (STEM) Julia Cleghorn for being outstanding hosts, and to In2science coordinators Stephanie Lynch (eMentoring), Dr Nicole Butler (La Trobe University), Ashlee Lambton (Swinburne University) and Dr William Sullivan and Sarah Longhurst (RMIT University) for working behind the scenes to make this event one for all to remember.

 

Pauline Deng from CSL guides In2science mentors

By | News

A graph that shows survey answers from Year 7, 8 and 9's students that participated in career-focused discussions. Results show that the majority of students strongly agree or agree that after participating in the career discussions, are now able to identify their own study and career options that relate to their interest.

The ‘Mentor Leaders Program’ is an exciting initiative generously supported by Toyota Community Trust. In 2020, a pilot of this program launched in classrooms, where In2science mentors led career-focused discussions with small groups of high school students. Preliminary evaluations showed that after engaging in the STEM career discussions, high school students better understood their STEM skills and interests and were better equipped to identify their own future career options.

This year, the Mentor Leaders Program has been refined and expanded to include STEM Professional mentors from our network of industry partners. These early-to-mid-career professionals support In2science mentors to further develop their leadership skills and knowledge of STEM careers. We had an outstanding number of STEM Professionals volunteer to mentor our In2science mentors, including Pauline Deng, a Pharmacovigilance Specialist at CSL. Pauline has a passion for not only leading continuous improvement initiatives but also advocating for STEM. 

Headshot of Pauline Deng from CSL

Pauline began her journey in STEM pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) before joining CSL as part of their science graduate intake. Over the past 4 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Pauline has gained experience and skills within the field and now works in a global role in Pharmacovigilance. Pauline‘s journey from university into a STEM career generates an invaluable story to be shared with In2science mentors about life after university and the future prospects in STEM. 

In volunteering for the Mentors Leaders Program as a STEM Professional, Pauline wants to share the importance of transferable skills. This is illustrated by Pauline’s change in career trajectory, “I always thought I’d be a researcher in the field of tumor immunology as that was what I found fascinating. However, I ended up in the CSL Graduate Program and it really has given me many fantastic opportunities!” Despite the shift in career pathways after university Pauline still had the relevant experience and knowledge to successfully navigate this change in direction. Pauline also attributes her career success thus far to volunteering opportunities that have allowed her to develop leadership and problem-solving skills, both of which she can help In2science mentors build for themselves through mentorship. 

Ultimately, mentors like Pauline are important in guiding people in STEM through every aspect of their study and career path. Whether it be choosing the best VCE subjects, building soft skills applicable to many stages of their career, or navigating changes in their STEM journey.  

We look forward to working with more STEM Professionals from our industry networks to continue the success of the Mentor Leaders Program. We are excited to see the positive influence the Professional Mentors have in building the confidence and career aspirations in our In2science mentors, which is then filtered down to the high school students. Stay tuned for further updates on this exciting program! 

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 launches the inaugural Mentor Leaders Program connecting university Mentor Leaders and STEM Professionals thanks to Toyota Community Trust

By | News

Studying a STEM degree and volunteering with In2science provides mentors with many transferable skills that opens doors to a multitude of career pathways.  During their time with In2science, we are committed to supporting our mentors to better understand the career options available to them, whether that be in science or non-science fields; in industry, academia or government, 

This year we were excited to once again partner with Toyota Community Trust, who, through their generous support, have enabled the roll-out of a new Mentor Leaders Program. This exciting new project aims to bolster mentors’ understanding of STEM careers and develop their leadership skills by pairing them with outstanding early-career STEM Professionals from our industry partner network. 

Through these meaningful professional connections, our mentors will be better equipped to engage in career conversations with secondary students throughout their In2science placement. This semester, Mentor Leaders will also be invited to facilitate a small group career activity at the school where they’ve been placed that’s been designed to spark students’ interest in science and maths. This will help students to better understand their own skills, interests and role models and how these can lead to a rewarding STEM career.

The program, due to commence in early August, is gathering momentum. Nineteen outstanding In2science mentors have been selected for the inaugural program alongside an equally impressive field of STEM professionals, with backgrounds in:

  • Biotechnology
  • Healthcare and medicine
  • Medical research
  • Environmental science, sustainability
  • STEAM communication
  • Technical Analysis
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing and engineering
  • Data science
  • Intellectual property
  • Education

This year’s enthusiastic and diverse group of STEM professional mentors are excited to offer mentees insights into topics such as:

  • academic vs industry career pathways
  • what consulting vs government vs industry roles are like
  • finding your own way even when you don’t know exactly what you want to do
  • landing their first job and how to construct a CV and job application
  • techniques for acing an interview
  • the transition from uni to work
  • striking a healthy work/life balance
  • honing in on what you’re passionate about
  • furthering a growth mindset
  • navigating male-dominated industries
  • the importance of soft skills in STEM environments
  • how to use your science education to succeed in ‘non-science’ based roles

In an effort to provide a tailored mentoring experience, Mentor Leaders selected their preferred STEM Professional Mentors. With the matching process now complete and Mentor Leaders soon to undergo their induction, In2science is confident that all participants will maximise the opportunities this program will provide. This will further improve In2science mentoring in schools and set In2science mentors up for securing a role in the STEM workforce. Armed with resources to enrich the mentoring experience, Mentor Leaders will be meeting their STEM Professional Mentors from early August, with the program running throughout Semester 2.

With such an inspirational bunch of people involved, we can’t wait to see the rich learnings made and shared. Watch this space!

In2science eMentor, Stella Ulm debunks myths in STEM and encourages young women to put their hand up

By | News, Profiles

Stella Ulm, eMentor from The University of Melbourne in front of a wind farm

There is a myth in school that if you are a scientist you must work in a laboratory and if you are an engineer, you fix cars. In2science mentors know this is not true. It is one of the reasons Stella Ulm, a Masters of Mechanical Engineering student at The University of Melbourne, joined the peer mentoring program.  

Stella is particularly passionate about the myths and negative stereotypes associated with women in STEM and is excited to share the variety of careers available to young women that they may not yet know about. One of these is combining fields to work in multiple disciplines like business, biomedical technology, and engineering. 

“I’ve changed what I want to do quite a few times and people don’t realise that you can have that kind of flexibility,” Stella says, reflecting on her university life. At first, Stella began a degree in Commerce, before switching to a Bachelor of Science because she had a passion for cochlear implants. This interest resulted in a 12-week internship with Cochlear that left her questioning where this degree would take her. An opportunity then rose for an internship at a renewable energy firm where Stella decided that she wanted to utilise a cross-disciplinary approach to implement engineering solutions in business. This flexible thinking and growth mindset is what Stella aims to inspire in secondary school students through In2science.  

Since 2020, Stella has participated in In2science’s eMentoring stream, which focuses on supporting regional, remote, and rural students all over Victoria. Some of her best memories are what her students have taught her, including topics in marine science, occupational therapy, and psychology. “We learned together, we researched together: how to get into those fields, how you apply for universities interstate. The best part about mentoring with In2science is that you’re not a teacher.” Stella says, recalling a time where she let her mentees lead sessions. “(My mentee) taught me more about science. It was inspiring.” 

Stella and her eMentee

Above all, Stella believes that mentoring is of significant value to women in STEM. “We often get scared to put our hand up” she says, “Having that curiosity to keep wanting to know more is something we (mentor and mentee) can learn together. That’s something I really hope I have inspired my mentees to do. To keep asking questions and not be afraid to not know the answer.”  

 

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.

Dr Jen Martin and Catriona Nguyen-Robertson upskill In2science mentors in effective science communication

By | Events, News

If only all Mondays ended like this. To give back to the wonderful In2science community and equip mentors with useful techniques and skills to use in their STEM degrees and beyond, In2science provides professional development workshops to celebrate and round off each placement period.  

This year, we invited Dr. Jen Martin, who leads the acclaimed Science Communication teaching program at The University of Melbourne and In2science mentor, science communicator and PhD candidate Catriona Nguyen-Robertson (The University of Melbourne, Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity) to facilitate a fun, interactive session on confident communication in science. 

Dr. Jen Martin was a field ecologist who founded The University of Melbourne’s outstanding Science Communication teaching program. For almost two decades she has been in the science communication space, speaking weekly on 3RRR and writing for popular STEM publications like Double Helix to complement her public speaking workshops and courses. Catriona Nguyen-Robertson is a star mentor for In2science who is currently completing her PhD in immunology at the Doherty Institute with The University of Melbourne. She spends much of her time as a Science Communications Officer for the Royal Society of Victoria, a STEM presenter at Scienceworks and creating inspirational songs about science for primary and high school students.  

Mentors gathered at RMIT University’s City Campus where they learned skills in what makes a great speaker and the essentials in effective communication. Mentors worked in groups to refine narratives, particularly when it comes to their STEM passions and interests and how to cope with those dreaded nerves.  

The event finished with some informal networking and bonding over food and drinks. The In2science coordinators Team formally thanked their mentors for all their hard work in 2021 so far and presented some well-earned certificates. Thank you to Dr. Jen Martin and Catriona Nguyen-Robertson for such an engaging and fun evening, we hope to work with you again soon! 

 

In2science brings together Indigenous STEM experts to celebrate Australia’s First Scientists

By | Events, News

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are Australia’s and the world’s first scientists. For over 60 000 years, Australia’s First Nations Peoples have cared for and managed vast and diverse landscapes through their intimate understanding of the stars, land, sea and climate. Despite this rich scientific heritage, however, the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is approximately two-and-a-half years for science and maths (Programme for International Student Assessment, 2018). Recognising the need to address this disparity as a priority, In2science hosted an online forum, “Indigenous STEM engagement – Celebrating Australia’s First Scientists”. This event brought together an inspirational and dynamic panel of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM experts to discuss how to engage young First Nations People in STEM and build pride in Indigenous scientific knowledge, both inside and outside of Indigenous communities.

Kids are the best engineers. They are the best scientists because they ask the best questions.– Corey Tutt, Founder and CEO of Deadly Science

Corey Tutt, a proud Kamilaroi man, 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year, and the Founder and CEO of Deadly Science, a charity that provides STEM resources to remote school across Australia, started the evening with a stirring keynote presentation about his story and how Deadly Science is helping to build STEM aspirations for young First Nations kids.

Our culture is the oldest living culture in the world that we know of. To survive we had to be good observers, we had to be great engineers, we had to be even better chemists. We had to be good technologists, we had to be great scientists and science starts with observation. When we observe and we find problems, our solutions are methodically thought out.– Corey Tutt, Founder and CEO of Deadly Science

Multi-award-winning STEM journalist and broadcaster, Rae Johnston described her own experiences with STEM and then facilitated this important panel discussion. Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, who heads an immunotherapy lab in cancer research at WEHI  and was the first Indigenous Australian to attend Oxford and Cambridge universities as a postdoctoral research fellow, discussed the topic in relation to her important work in developing treatments for brain cancer, and how her ancestry have influenced her approach to science.

I come from a long line of storytellers, and I grew up hearing stories about how my ancestors would burn a certain type of plant when they birthed their babies because there was something in the smoke that kept the environment free from germs and modern science has actually now verified that.– Associate Professor Misty Jenkins, WEHI

 

Yemurraki Egan, a proud Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba and Gunditjmara man, who works at The University of Melbourne and currently studies engineering at Swinburne University of Technology provided practical advice about how universities can improve the experience of First Nations students to encourage and retain them over the course of their degrees.

If you put the same amount of effort, dedication and ambition that you do in sports and arts into STEM, you would see Indigenous people succeed just as much.– Yemurraki Egan, The University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology

Mibu Fischer has been employed by CSIRO for 10 years and in that time has found her niche in marine ethnoecology, with a focus on strengthening partnerships between First Nations communities and current fisheries, for improved coastal and conservation management. Mibu is a proud Quandamooka woman, who took the opportunity to speak about her STEM pathway and how Traditional Knowledge can be incorporated with Western science.

The best way [to communicate Traditional Knowledge] is through education. It’s also feeling safe to educate those around us. It’s around finding supportive allies in these spaces to create a platform to get our stories out there.– Mibu Fischer, CSIRO

Over the course of the evening, audience members asked thought provoking questions pertaining to how to communicate Traditional Scientific Knowledge to non-Indigenous Australians, how universities can better support Indigenous students and how the education system can be more inclusive of young First Nations children.

It’s important for teachers to know that not every kid they work with is going to become a doctor or a scientist or is going to become an absolute world champion, but they have a right to believe that they can.– Corey Tutt, Founder and CEO of Deadly Science

Overall, the event highlighted the diverse and incredible connections First Australians have had, and continue to have, with science and maths over millennia, despite their under-representation in STEM subjects at school and in the workforce. More importantly, this discussion taught us much about the barriers that many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face that can  prevent them from pursuing a career in STEM, while also outlining ways that schools, universities, and the public can incorporate more inclusive practices to support young Indigenous students.

STEM is for all.– Corey Tutt, Founder and CEO of Deadly Science

In2science gratefully acknowledges GHD for sponsoring this event. In2science would also like to express our sincere thanks to Mr Corey Tutt, A/Prof Misty Jenkins, Ms Mibu Fischer, Mr Yemurraki Egan and Ms Rae Johnston for sharing their stories and thoughts with us. We look forward to continuing the discussion about how scientists from all disciplines can work in partnership with Indigenous Australian scientists to help secure Australia’s future in an ever-changing climate and environment.

If you missed the event, a recording is available and can be viewed here.

 

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.