Swinburne eMentoring Astro Tour

By | News

eMentoring secondary students from Traralgon Secondary College and the Distance Education Centre Victoria (DECV) were treated to a behind the scenes guided tour of the inner workings of the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology during the September school holiday.

eMentors Sarah Hegarty and Wael Farah, both completing PhDs in astrophysics, hosted three students from Traralgon Secondary College and two from DECV, who had made the trip to Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus for the day.

Sarah gave the students an insight into her PhD work of taking huge volumes of data collected from radio telescopes and finding ways to visualise it. She demonstrated to the students the computer code and software she had developed to analyse her data and probe it for insights into the mysteries of the universe.

Wael then led the group across campus to his office where he works on Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) and explained how he is developing a machine learning system to help solve the problem of extremely short cosmic radio signals being drowned out by radio noise generated on Earth.

The students also had a sneak peak at the virtual reality experiences under development at OzGrav, the Australian Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery.

Finally the students enjoyed a journey around the solar system in Swinburne’s 3D Astro Tour theatre. The day was a fantastic opportunity for students from regional areas to gain a first hand insight into life at university and real scientific research. It was a demonstration of the level of commitment shown by eMentors like Sarah and Wael and their willingness to go above and beyond to inspire their mentees.

Swinburne University of Technology eMentors Wael Farah (2nd from left), Sarah Hegarty (far right), Swinburne In2science Coordinator Artem Bourov with students from Traralgon Secondary College and Distance Education Centre Victoria.

Meet an In2science Alumnus: Alistair Grevis-James

By | Profiles

“In2science gave me the communication skills and experience I needed to get my first proper STEM job out of University, laying an important foundation for my career in science, ” says Alistair Grevis-James.

My name is Alistair Grevis-James. I am 29 years old, a former In2science mentor, and currently work full time at CSL Limited (Parkville, Melbourne) as an analytical biochemist. I help create biopharmaceuticals to treat serious illnesses, including haemophilia (an inability for the blood to clot), hereditary angioedema (a genetic condition that causes potentially life threatening swelling) and diabetic nephropathy (damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes). I am one of those annoying people who absolutely loves their job!

For me, the In2science peer mentoring program was a critical stepping stone between university learning and working my first proper science job. Fuelled by the rhetoric in popular culture around climate science, nutrition and vaccination, I developed an interest in science communication during my undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne.

I participated in the In2science program in my final undergraduate year, completing a placement at Northcote High School in a year 7 science class. In2science was my first ‘hands on’ experience with science communication and it was fascinating to work with young people who are grappling with the STEM content you yourself grappled with only a few years prior.

The In2science program was a critical stepping stone for my career. The communication skills and experience I gained allowed me to successfully apply for my first STEM job at Scitech (Perth, WA), as an Outreach Presenter. My next STEM role was working as an analytical chemist. My mix of experience was very well received in my interview, and I was able to discuss problem solving I performed during my In2science placement.

In my current role at CSL, my ability to collaborate with colleagues and to communicate scientific information effectively is just as important as my technical skills. Communicating my passion for science, explaining scientific concepts, and building mentoring relationships with students as an In2science mentor was a great way to develop these skills while at university.

The In2science program is of great benefit to the mentor, the teacher and the students. The program is well-structured, with an easily manageable time input. I would recommend the program to any tertiary student studying STEM who wants a unique and valuable experience.

 

Are you an In2science Alumni? We’d love to share your story! Get in touch via the In2science Alumni Network.

Meet an In2science Alumnus: Anthony Gonzales

By | Profiles
In2science mentor Alex Dellios with host teacher and In2science alumnus Anthony Gonzales at Epping Secondary College

In2science mentor Alex Dellios with host teacher and In2science alumnus Anthony Gonzales at Epping Secondary College.

We caught up with In2science mentor alumnus, Anthony Gonzales, now a teacher at Epping Secondary College. Anthony recognises the value of having an In2science mentor in his classroom and is now hosting his second mentor, Alex Dellios, in his year 8 maths class. We asked Anthony to reflect on his time volunteering with In2science and how it helped him get to where he is today.

Anthony, what year/s did you volunteer for In2science and what were you studying at the time? I volunteered in 2004 to 2005. I was completing a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Science Education degree at La Trobe University at the time.

What inspired you to pursue teaching as a career, and what did you learn from your mentoring experience? I decided to pursue teaching simply because I love being around young people and that I always felt I was able to explain pretty hard maths topics using everyday language. There is also that ’emotional factor’ when it comes to maths for most students to which I could identify with and address. My mentoring experience confirmed that teaching was what I wanted to do. I also learnt that students are always welcome to having visitors in their classroom.

Tell us about your In2science placement. I completed about 3 placements for the In2science program. My first placement was at Eltham High School in a Year 7 Science class. One week I was given the opportunity to take a class and I decided to give a ‘Playground Physics’ lesson. We walked to the local playground and the students conducted experiments on the slides and the playground equipment. The students had an enjoyable time as it was a lesson that was different to what they were used to.

What was the best thing about mentoring? The best thing about mentoring was simply being in a classroom full of kids. Students are always great fun and it was a great stepping stone for me before I got into my teaching placements.

Anthony Gonzales, In2science alumnus and maths teacher at Epping Secondary College

Anthony Gonzales, In2science alumnus and maths teacher at Epping Secondary College.

What was one of the biggest challenges about mentoring? It was the nerves of being in a new environment. However that quickly became a non-issue after a couple of sessions with the class.

What has been the biggest change in your approach to education since you were at uni? It has been ensuring that the class values a positive learning environment and that the best classroom environment is when a strong relationship between the teacher and the students has been established. Relationships are everything.

Why did you decide to host In2science mentors and what do you hope your students will gain from them? I decided to host In2science mentors simply so that I could give back to the program which helped me along the way to becoming a teacher. I hope my students can see that there are people out there who are simply giving of their time and wanting to engage with them both as people and as students.

What advice would you give other university students looking to get involved in In2science? I would say simply give it a go! It’s an experience not every uni student has the opportunity to have. It’s not every day that you are able to come into a classroom to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.

 

Are you an In2science Alumni? We’d love to share your story! Get in touch via the In2science Alumni Network.

In2science eMentoring recognised at Regional Leadership Award night

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In2science eMentoring Coordinator Robyn Gamble (left) and Program Manager Joanna Oreo (right) accept the nomination for the Regional Development Victoria Leadership and Innovation Award from Bank of Melbourne CEO Michelle Winzer. Credit: Victorian Regional Achievement Community Awards.

The In2science eMentoring program received a nomination for the prestigious Regional Development Victoria Leadership and Innovation Award at the recent Regional Achievement and Community Awards. The nomination was presented by Bank of Melbourne CEO Michelle Winzer at a gala event held in Flemington on October 13th 2017.

In2science eMentoring was recognised as the first successful online STEM mentoring program for regional Victoria. During the 10-week program, secondary students cover a range of topics with volunteer eMentors from La Trobe, RMIT, Swinburne and Melbourne Universities over an interactive platform, and take a virtual tour of their universities. This recognition was a significant acknowledgement of the success of the eMentoring program, which was among 220 nominations received from across Victoria.

The Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Awards started in 2002 and are designed to encourage, acknowledge and reward the valuable contributions that individuals, communities and businesses make throughout regional and rural Victoria. These awards aim to recognise their success and achievements, which contribute to making regional Victoria a better place.

Read more about the latest successes of the In2science eMentoring program here.

Supporting Girls in STEM a Huge Success

By | Events
Michelle Gallaher, founder of Women in STEMM Australia, Waheed Rashid of Ericsson and panel MC Rachael McCullough of In2science.

Michelle Gallaher, founder of Women in STEMM Australia, Waheed Rashid of Ericsson and panel MC Rachael McCullough of In2science.

Supporting Girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond (#SGISTEM) showcased the ideas, programs, events and organisations that exist to encourage equality of opportunity in STEM. It provided In2science mentors, teachers and members of the STEM education community with the opportunity to engage with a critical issue facing their disciplines. Equally importantly, it helped them to better understand how they can utilise their roles as mentors, teachers, educators and corporate leaders to encourage girls to pursue their interest in STEM. Attendees gained valuable ideas for classroom interventions, mentoring strategies, school collaborations, corporate engagement, and how they can work together to approach issues relating to gender equity.

The evening was opened by In2science’s own Rachael McCullough, who pointed out that just as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau had justified his gender-equal cabinet because “it [was] 2015”, we should similarly be boosting gender equity in STEM because it is 2017.

Panelists discussing challenges and opportunities for young women in STEM at the event Supporting Girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond

Panelists discussing challenges and opportunities for young women in STEM at the event Supporting Girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond

The 6 panellists, representing industry, advocacy, secondary and tertiary education sectors commented on what they viewed as the greatest challenges to gender equity in STEM education and STEM careers. Michelle Gallaher, founder of Women in STEMM Australia, pointed out that sometimes men need to step back and support women to take the lead. Waheed Rashid of Ericsson provided a business perspective on the need to increase gender balance and address the shortage of visible female leaders in the corporate world. Dr Christine Redman from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education highlighted the need for boys and girls to work together from a young age in order for both to form positive attitudes about the capabilities of girls. Siddharth Verma, founder of BrainSTEM, advocated an education environment where girls are encouraged to take more risks and learn to not be afraid of failure. Janine McIntosh, manager of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) schools programs, highlighted the need to communicate the importance of STEM engagement for females across the entire STEM ‘pipeline’: primary, secondary and tertiary education, through to all stages of career progression. Dr Anita Gamvrellis, a teacher at Wesley College, reminded the audience that teachers, peers, parents and industry professionals are the biggest influences for girls interested in STEM.

After the lively and positive panel discussion, the audience and panel split off into two breakout sessions for more focused discussion on ‘Classroom Strategies’ and  ‘Industry and Role Models’. These two topics provided attendees with the opportunity to further their expertise based upon their background and interest and to ask questions of panelists.

The event concluded with an expo and networking forum in which a diverse range of STEM outreach organisations showcased their programs. These included AMSI Schools / CHOOSEMATHS, BrainSTEM, In2science, The University of Melbourne Physics Society, Robogals, Sisters in Science, STELR (ATSE), and Telescopes in Schools.

Participants reported coming away from the event feeling energised and optimistic about the future, and appreciative of the opportunity to mix with like-minded people and share ideas.

The event was made possible through the generous funds from The Selby Scientific Foundation.

 

Twitter highlights and a video of the introduction to the #SGISTEM event is available here.

eMentoring hits the road for Digital Harvest

By | Events

In2science eMentoring staff Robyn Gamble and Rachael McCullough with Galen Catholic College teacher Maree Timms (centre).

Innovative teaching methods embracing technology to support regional teachers were the focus of the recent Digital Harvest conference held on August 18th in Wangaratta. In2science eMentoring Coordinator Robyn Gamble and Support Officer Rachael McCullough attended the conference to promote the In2science eMentoring program to regional schools in attendance and contribute to the discussion about how digital resources such as eMentoring can help connect students in regional areas.

Biology teacher and podcaster Andrew Douch’s keynote address highlighted the need for Australian teachers to prepare students for future demands of the global economy, drawing on an analogy of an ice skater moving to where a puck is heading rather than where the puck has been. He pointed out that because of the unprecedented ease of access to information, educators need to equip students with skills that can’t be automated or outsourced overseas. He said the emphasis needs to be on ‘connecting the dots, not collecting the dots,’ meaning helping students learn how to use the abundant information at their disposal in more clever ways.

He also advised teachers to embrace the so-called “Air New Zealand” Teaching Model, automating repetitive teaching tasks by recording lessons on YouTube or as podcasts, to free up class time to focus on the more important human interactions with students and help them develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork.  

Another speaker, Mark Woolley from the Wollongong Catholic Education Office, asked the approximately 180 delegates to write one word to inspire your students in STEM. Mentoring scored among the highest in the audience! He noted the declining rates of STEM subject enrolments, particularly for girls and observed that students were less willing to be challenged in school. One possible solution he suggested was to encourage students to enter competitions. Mark also shared a number of online resources for teachers which you can access here.   

A range of workshops were on offer to help teachers come to grips with coding, 3D design, invention, virtual reality and how to integrate these into classroom teaching. 

Robyn and Rachael met with eMentoring students at Galen Catholic College.

The In2science staff members also had the opportunity to visit a participating eMentoring school Galen Catholic College while in Wangaratta. There, they met some students to hear first hand about their experiences working with eMentors and presented them with a school participation certificate. One year 10 student, Maddy, said she had enjoyed the help her eMentor had provided: “I had a lovely mentor who answered all of my questions and helped me understand new science concepts that were being studied in class.”

Another year 10 student, Imogen, said her mentor had helped her gain more of an insight into life beyond school: “it helped give my aspirations direction and let me have an insight to what life could be like after high school.”

The visit was a valuable opportunity for In2science staff to build upon relationships with regional teachers and help them realise the full benefit for their students of connecting with eMentors. The In2science team is looking forward to attending Digital Harvest 2018!

Meet a Mentor: Alex Dellios

By | Profiles
In2science mentor Alex Dellios is undertaking his third mentor placement

In2science mentor Alex Dellios is undertaking his third mentor placement.

What are you studying and what do you like about it? I am studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics and Mathematics at La Trobe University. I love learning something new about the how the universe works every day. It’s been like one big puzzle, the more I learn the more everything makes sense.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? When I was younger I was very disenfranchised with science. I found it boring and just didn’t enjoy it at all, until I had a teacher that sparked my passion for science. She taught me to look at the bigger picture at how everything in the universe was governed by the laws of physics and that these laws were written in mathematics. From that moment on I was hooked by science and I started to appreciate the little things like throwing a ball in the air. So I became an In2science mentor to try spark that same passion in these students and to try and show them the bigger picture, just like how I was shown in high school.

Tell us about your In2science placement. I am currently on my third placement. This time I am in a year 8 math class at Epping Secondary College. Anthony, the teacher I am working with, was once an In2science mentor and it’s been great to hear his experiences as a mentor and a teacher. It has also been my first experience with Maths Pathway which has been interesting, it’s great to see students being able to learn math at their own pace.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing about In2science is that it gives students the chance to get a different point of view about maths and science, to ask questions and have discussions about topics the teacher might not have time to go over or talk about. It’s been great hearing some of the awesome questions these students have.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? One of the biggest challenges is trying to make maths and science fun and engaging for all students, regardless of whether they love or hate it. It can also be challenging to help students understand a concept they might be really struggling with.

What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? I hope to pass on some of my passion for maths and science so they may one day study science or at least understand the benefits of being scientifically literate.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I want to study Astrophysics and become an academic, so I can still do research but also teach.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Brian Greene, I think he is one of the smartest people alive and I would love to talk to him about superstring theory, his experiences in science communication and how he makes science so engaging to students.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? Sometimes you may think you aren’t making a difference to these students, but trust me you are. That moment you see a student ‘get it’ is one of the best feelings in the world – knowing you’ve helped this student understand something today that they might have struggled with for a while really is something else. Being an In2science mentor has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, I only wish I found out about the program earlier so I could have done it for longer.

 

Next month we meet Alex’s host teacher and In2science alumnus, Anthony Gonzales.

Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

In2science Wins Australasian Peer Leader Award

By | News
In2science team members Joanna Oreo (2nd from left), Dr Maddy Yewers, Oliver Barrand and Artem Bourov accept the 2017 Australasian Peer Leader Award for Outstanding Peer Educator Team, with Melissa Zaccagnini (end left) and Melissa Stephen (end right) of the National Centre for Peer Assisted Study Sessions, University of Wollongong.

In2science team members Joanna Oreo (2nd from left), Dr Maddy Yewers, Oliver Barrand and Artem Bourov accept the 2017 Australasian Peer Leader Award for Outstanding Peer Educator Team, with Melissa Zaccagnini (end left) and Melissa Stephen (end right) of the National Centre for Peer Assisted Study Sessions, University of Wollongong.

This week In2science was proud to accept the 2017 Australasian Peer Leader Award for Outstanding Peer Educator Team, presented by the National Centre for Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) of the University of Wollongong. The award was presented at the prestigious annual PASS and Peer Learning Conference in Melbourne, whose theme was creating connections, celebrating partnerships. The PASS Conference and Awards bring together university educators and students from across Australasia to showcase best practice and innovation in peer assisted learning.

The In2science team was recognised for the innovation they have shown in developing a unique university-school peer mentoring program that increases student engagement and aspirations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). This collaborative multi-university partnership, governed by an In2science advisory board chaired by the Hon Prof John Brumby AO, demonstrates an effective strategic direction for increasing STEM engagement among students.

The In2science program places volunteer STEM university students into science and maths classes in low Socio-Economic Status (SES) high schools. The volunteers act as role models and peer mentors for the secondary students, working with them once per week over a 10-week period. In2science was recognised for creating collaborative partnerships between universities and schools via metropolitan in-class mentoring and regional online eMentoring. In2science has maintained partnerships with four universities (La Trobe, Melbourne, RMIT and Swinburne) and 61 schools in the past three years. The program has coordinated over 2,500 mentor placements and helped support over 59,000 students over the last 13 years.

The judges of the award applied a number of criteria in making their decision. Winners were selected for their quality contribution to student learning and developing a culture of peer learning; as well as demonstrating  a strong understanding and delivery of peer learning theories and research within their own mentoring program. The Award winners  were also recognised for their outstanding performance, commitment and leadership.

Women in STEM: from the 1903 laboratory to the 2017 classroom

By | Events

By Rachael McCullough

In the lead-up to the In2science event Supporting girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond, we reflect on the position of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, the role of outreach programs and the importance of role models and mentors.

 

Marie Curie

Marie Curie was the first person in history to win two Nobel Prizes. Image credit: The Wellcome Trust.

A Historical Challenge

Think of a famous woman in science. What’s the first name that comes into your head?

It’s likely you thought of Marie Curie, one of the most famous scientists of all time.

Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for her groundbreaking research on radioactivity. In 1911, she received her second Nobel, this time in Chemistry. She was the first person to win twice, and remains the only person to have won the prize in two different sciences.

Marie’s scientific prowess was incredible. But what is equally incredible is the scientific community’s reaction to her achievements. Even after making history by winning both prizes, Marie was rejected from membership into the French Royal Academy of Sciences in 1911. Instead, the Academy elected Édouard Branly, a man who helped with the early development of the wireless telegraph.

Marie’s story highlights just some of the historical obstacles that prevented many women from pursuing careers in science and maths. Throughout history, there have been countless other women whose contributions to science were overlooked, neglected or credited to others.

Women in STEM today

We have come a long way since Marie Curie’s rejection from the Royal Academy. Women all over the world can now vote, graduate from university, hold academic positions, run businesses and are leaders in every field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, the shadow of inequity and discrimination still lingers over STEM in the 21st century.

In 2016, only 32% of STEM academic and research staff at Australian universities were women. This statistic mirrors that of STEM degree enrolments. Only 33% of STEM Bachelor degree enrolments in 2016 were women. 

And what’s more, women are more likely to underestimate their own abilities in STEM subjects than men. One study into a phenomenon known as stereotype threat showed that women performed worse than men on a maths test when told that gender is a predictor of their test score. However, when this stereotype threat was eliminated, the difference in performances between men and women was eliminated.

What we can do

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Science outreach programs and role models encourage increased STEM engagement by girls.

Gender equity in STEM is a multi-faceted and historical problem that can’t be solved overnight. While there are still many obstacles in our path to an inclusive and diverse STEM community, we can see initiatives that are gently but steadily moving us in the right direction by sharing inspiring science through role models and activities. Science outreach programs like Robogals, that specifically aim to inspire young girls in STEM, are active in many cities in Australia and in many countries around the world. Films like Hidden Figures (2017) highlight the untold stories of marginalised mathematicians and engineers in America’s mission to the Moon. And Science and Technology Australia’s recently launched Superstars of STEM program places outstanding role models in front of aspiring scientists, mathematicians, inventors and innovators across the country.

In2science is committed to gender equity in STEM in Australia. Classrooms and online mentoring platforms can be positive environments for young girls to be exposed to new ideas, inspired and encouraged by mentors to pursue whatever sparks their interest. There are also many programs and initiatives that can complement school based STEM learning.

To highlight just some of the resources available to educators and mentors to support girls in STEM, the In2science team is excited to be hosting a panel discussion and networking event on Thursday 7th September.

Join the discussion

Supporting girls in STEM: Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond will take place on Thursday 7th of September 2017 and feature an expert panel discussion, followed by break-out discussion groups and a networking expo featuring a range of organisations and programs committed to STEM outreach and gender equity available to talk to at the conclusion of the event. If you are a university student, mentor, teacher or simply interested in promoting gender equality and diversity in STEM, we encourage you to join the discussion. This event is made possible by the generous support of the Selby Scientific Foundation. 

 

Register for the event here! http://bit.ly/In2scigirls

Meet a Mentor: Julie Kheng

By | Profiles

In2science mentor Julie Kheng

What are you studying and what do you like about it? I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) at Swinburne University of Technology. I enjoy learning about the physiological aspects of the human body as well as learning how to use medical instruments that you would find in hospitals.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I became an In2science mentor because I was curious to see why there was a decline in students studying science after year 9 and hoped to try and get students to see that science can be amazing and fun! I want to encourage students to continue with their scientific endeavours and to allow them to see that science is everywhere, even in things you wouldn’t necessarily think it would be found.

Tell us about your In2science placement. I undertook placement in a year 8 science class at Brighton Secondary College in semester 1 2017. It was an interesting class ranging from students who were really interested and loved science to those who didn’t enjoy it at all. It was an amazing experience getting to know the students and having them interact with me and asking me questions that I never would have thought of asking when I was in year 8. In semester 2 2017 I’m mentoring a new group of year 8 students at the same school.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing about In2science was being surprised at the knowledge the students had of cells and the human body – some of the things that they knew I didn’t learn until further study in high school, so that was impressive. It was also great to get to know the individual students and their passions.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? One of the biggest challenges would probably have to be learning all the student’s names! It did get easier after spending a couple weeks with them in the classroom.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? I have always been interested in the human body, how everything worked and how I could use that knowledge to help others in the health sector.

What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? Don’t give up on science and your passion. Although there will be times where you may question why you should continue, in the end it will all be worth it and that there is a wonder of knowledge to discover in science and STEM based subjects. It’s not all just old men with crazy hair!

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I’m hoping to further my study into pharmacy and from there study medicine.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Professor Brian Cox!! He is my idol, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I find him so captivating and has a way in explaining something so complex into basic terms that people like me, who have no physics background, can understand.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? I would highly recommend the program. It not only develops your science communication skills but also quite rewarding knowing that you have inspired students into continuing with science or sparked an interest in them. Who knows, one day some of the students may be a leading scientist!

 

Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!