All posts by Ollie Barrand

Selby Foundation Supporting Mentor Development

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The Selby Scientific Foundation was established in 1980 by E.J. Selby (left) supported by brother B.A. Selby (right). Images courtesy of the Selby Scientific Foundation.

The Selby Scientific Foundation was established in 1980 by E.J. Selby (left) supported by brother B.A. Selby (right). Images courtesy of the Selby Scientific Foundation.

This year In2science is fortunate to receive financial support from the Selby Scientific Foundation to provide mentors with professional development opportunities. The aim of the Foundation is to support scientific education and research in Australia. They provide grants, fellowships and awards to support science education and research from the secondary school level through to advanced research by distinguished international scientists.

In addition to benefiting secondary students from disadvantaged backgrounds, a key feature of In2science is the benefits and improved educational outcomes for university students who volunteer their time to be mentors. During classroom placements, mentors develop their confidence, communication, interpersonal and professional skills, while gaining first-hand experience of teaching to consider it as a vocational pathway.

The grant from the Selby Scientific Foundation allows In2science to expand the quality and range of professional development sessions provided to mentors. Professional development sessions provide high quality communication and professional skills for mentors to use not only during placements, but also in their studies and into employment. Furthermore it is a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge the sustained voluntary commitment of mentors and their contribution to high school students’ science and maths education.

Veteran In2science mentor and new staff member, Rachael McCullough

Thanks to the generous support of the Selby Foundation, we are also excited to introduce you to our new staff member Rachael McCullough! Rachael will be leading our new mentor professional development sessions.

Rachael is no stranger to In2science. She has completed two in-class mentoring placements at Maribyrnong College and John Fawkner College and is currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Ecology and Evolution with a concurrent diploma in Mathematical Sciences at The University of Melbourne.

Rachael is well placed to share her experiences to make professional development opportunities as relevant and productive as possible for mentors. She is passionate about science and maths education and particularly wants to encourage girls to thrive in STEM. She wants to provide mentors with as many opportunities as possible with the thought that even small workshops or activities can turn into quite important elements of their future studies and career.


Look out for stories on our mentor professional development events in future newsletters!

Meet a Mentor: Andreas Alzate

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In2science mentor Andreas Alzate

What have you studied, and why did you like it? I studied a Graduate Certificate in Science (Pure Mathematics) at The University of Melbourne. I am a mechanical engineer but my real passion has always been mathematics, so I decided to stop working as an engineer and went back to university to study pure mathematics.

Tell us about your In2science placement. My placement was at Mt Alexander College. I enjoyed working with students from different ethnic backgrounds and they were always very respectful towards me. I believe that I helped the students not only with their understanding of mathematics, but also with their perception that people who like mathematics are boring and uninteresting. I learned so much about myself and about teaching. Thanks to the In2science experience, I decided to change my career from engineering to education.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I wanted to make a positive contribution to society through education and also to promote STEM careers. In2science was the perfect opportunity for me in order to achieve these goals.

What’s the best thing about In2science? To be able to help students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. I had the opportunity to be in a high school classroom and this led me to consider a career in education.

What’s the most challenging thing about In2science? My experience with In2science was very positive. The worst thing was having to leave the classroom at the end of the placement after having developed positive relationships with the students.

What inspired you to study a STEM field? In my opinion, mathematics is one of the most coherent, solid, fascinating and beautiful human endeavors that I know of.

What did you want to do after university and why? This year, I am teaching Mathematics at Cranbourne Secondary College as part of a Master of Teaching (Secondary) Internship at the University of Melbourne. After having completed my In2science placement, I discovered that I am very passionate about education and decided to change careers to become a school teacher!

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist or mathematician, who would it be and why? It would be the mathematician Alexander Grothendieck. He was not only one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, but he was also a person concerned about social issues and he was a political activist and pacifist.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

New Mentors Trained Up and Ready to Go

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After recruiting and interviewing undergraduate STEM students who can’t wait to share their enthusiasm for science, In2science training prepared mentors to enter the classroom. A total of 128 new in-person mentors and eMentors were trained in the final stage of mentor induction before being matched with schools to begin placements.

In2science mentors at La Trobe University getting to know each other

In2science mentors at La Trobe University getting to know each other


The sessions at each of the four partner universities covered a range of topics to equip new mentors with the skills for maximising their impact on placements. They ranged from explaining science and maths to make them relevant to the lives of young people, to awareness of the various learning styles of students and tips for working with a teacher in the classroom.

Josh Farr from Teach For Australia gave new mentors an insight into the teachers perspective

Josh Farr from Teach For Australia gave new mentors an insight into the teachers perspective


The new mentors were fortunate to be visited from representatives of Teach For Australia, Josh Farr, who visited Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Melbourne, and RMIT University, and Lauren Smith at La Trobe University. Josh and Lauren gave the mentors an excellent insight into the perspective of teachers, fostering a growth mindset in students, and preparing  for various behaviors of students.

Lauren Smith from Teach for Australia

Lauren Smith from Teach for Australia


In2science mentors-in-training at Swinburne University of Technology test out some hands on demonstrations.

In2science mentors-in-training at Swinburne University of Technology test out some hands on demonstrations.

The training for new eMentors was delivered on the same online video platform that they will be using to connect with their mentees at regional schools during placement. The eMentors were given first hand practice at communicating via the platform and using its features, such as screen sharing, drawing and the use of virtual rooms for breakout discussions. It was also a good opportunity for eMentors to encounter some limitations of the medium and learn strategies to overcome them.

The mentors now get to use their skills and enthusiasm where it counts – in the classroom.







Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Mentors Having Fun With Maths

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In2science mentors l-r Abhi Gupta and Andy Quan from the University of Melbourne and Margaret Ngugi from Swinburne University of Technology at the Australian Council for Educational Research.

In2science mentors L-R Abhi Gupta and Andy Quan from the University of Melbourne and Margaret Ngugi from Swinburne University of Technology at the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Students learn better when they are having fun, so learning how to make maths fun is a serious business. Mentors from The University of Melbourne, Swinburne University of Technology and RMIT University attended a professional development workshop provided by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) that provided practical methods for increasing the fun of maths in the classroom.

The day provided mentors with some great examples of language use and activities from everyday life to make maths more engaging and accessible for everyone in the classroom.

“This was a fresh perspective instead of the usual focus on content,” said Abhi Gupta, a mentor from The University of Melbourne who is working with students at Mercy College.

“Dave Tout engaged us on how maths can be better taught, especially for students who have a challenged background: by using mathematical concepts from day to day experiences, getting them to solve logic problems cooperatively, playing competitive games which rely on maths and digging deep into their understanding bottlenecks. Thanks to the In2science program for the opportunity!”

Swinburne mentor Margaret Ngugi, who mentors at Bayswater Secondary College said it changed her perspective on how maths can be taught. “It was really great and an eye opener into how the teaching system can be much more engaging and enjoyable.”

Activities included written and numerical logic problems to be completed cooperatively as well as ideas for games and resources. For example, did you know a smartie weighs exactly 1 gram with huge variation in the number and type found in a packet?

Not only did the workshop arm mentors with skills, ideas and tools for the classroom but it also provided further maths-specific conversation points and tips to be covered in the training provided to all mentors before placements.

Thanks to Dave Tout from ACER for providing the training, and the Selby Scientific Foundation for financially supporting the professional development of our mentors.

Meet a Mentor: Grace Curtis

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Grace Curtis

In2science mentor Grace Curtis

What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I’m studying a Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) at RMIT University. I love science, I’ve always loved science. I love how it is infinitely complex and tells us things from the composition of all matter, to the expansion of the known universe. I believe that through studying science I have developed a mindset that allows me to think critically and methodically in all areas of life, not just in the classroom, a skill many scientists would say is their greatest asset. Science is always developing, new theories and discoveries are always being made and I suppose the ever-changing nature of science is what has attracted me to study it at a higher education level. The possibilities in STEM are as infinite as our universe.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? In high school I never really had that someone who was able to tell me about science at a university level and even as a career, science was purely learnt in the classroom. When it came time to choose what to do at a higher education level, I knew I loved science, I knew I was good at it, but I didn’t really know where it could lead in the future. That made me unsure about what career options I could have or if science was all research and I’d have to remain at university forever. My overall aim through being an In2science mentor was to share my passion for science with young people who, like me, may not have had that person to show them the potential career opportunities the world of science can offer, and to show that anyone has the potential to succeed in science.

Tell us about your In2science placement. My In2science placement was at Bayside College in Williamstown with a year 8 science class in semester 2 2016. I was placed in a class which had a number students who needed extra help. Their teacher believed my passion for science may ignite their interest. While a significant element of my placement was assisting students with classwork, I was able to build a greater rapport with a small number of students, developing discussions around my evolving career in the world of science and my journey through high school.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing was getting to know all the students in the class. Being able to help them with any problems and seeing them understanding a problem or a principle after I discussed and explained it with them was extremely rewarding.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? The biggest challenge I found was making myself relatable to the students. Even though I’m still a student myself, they view me as an adult and at first a teacher-like figure in the classroom. Breaking down that initial barrier to be able to build rapport with them was the greatest challenge.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to know, how do things work? Why do they happen? What effect do they have on the world or how do they interact with the world? I’ve always had a lot of questions. To me, science provides the opportunity to seek out those answers.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? As my career at university continues to develop I am seriously considering the opportunities that may be available to me in the area of medical research, specifically, cancer research. I believe that there is so much more to discover about this disease, its diagnosis and treatment.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Marie Curie would be my first choice because she was the first woman to have won a Nobel Prize in two fields of science while overcoming extreme prejudice and discrimination of the time.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program? Just do it. The rewards are incredibly inspiring and motivating. It is an extremely rewarding program that has allowed me to connect with and hopefully inspire future scientists, while also providing me the opportunity to test my own knowledge of science.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

In2science Engages Future Educators

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TFA expo Jan 2017Innovative approaches to teaching STEM was the topic of conversation at Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, in January. In2science was invited to share the benefits of peer mentoring with future secondary science and mathematics teachers at The Innovations in Education Marketplace, organised by Teach For Australia for its 2016 and 2017 Cohorts. The exhibition featured a range of innovative STEM education providers.

At the In2science stall, Program Manager Joanna Oreo and La Trobe University Coordinator Oliver Barrand, spoke with many Associates from Victoria and Interstate. The Associates were interested to hear about the impact of volunteer student mentors in keeping secondary students engaged with their STEM studies. 

“We focus specifically on low socioeconomic schools, so for many of the high school students it might be the first time they’ve had a meaningful encounter with a university student,” Jo told Associates.

A number of Associates were keen to sign up for updates on the program, with several Victorian Associates expressing interest in registering for the program.

The event brought together Teach For Australia Associates from across the country, and was an opportunity for them to get up to date on the latest innovations in STEM education that they could employ in the classroom.


Read more about the event on Teach For Australia’s news page.

2016 Reflections

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The number of mentor placements in 2016 by region.

The number of mentor placements in 2016 by region.

Welcome to the final post for 2016. The In2science Awards night was a fantastic way to celebrate the end of what has been a very busy, productive and successful year.

  • Specalised mentor training and support: the team has focused on specific mentor training based around growth mindset, mentoring, and enhancing science communication skills.
  • Staff professional development: the In2science team has attended numerous workshops and presented at conferences, all focused around increasing students’ engagement and aspirations in STEM.
  • Mentor manager and placement application: In 2017, coordinators will be able to visually see a mentor’s location in relation to a school and match mentors availability with teachers requests based on times and common interests.
  • Additional funding to launch and accelerate online mentoring for regional schools: Feedback from the 2016 pilot has been overwhelmingly positive.  We look forward to expanding this in 2017.

2016 numbersFeedback and support about the In2science program has been extremely positive.  Preliminary analysis of survey results reveal that, after having an In2science mentor, students:

  • are more confident in science and maths
  • are more likely to know how to find information to help them solve a science problem
  • enjoy finding out answers to science questions
  • identify that the problem solving skills they use in science can be helpful in everyday life; and
  • recognise that studying VCE science/maths subjects at year 12 will give them lots of options

What the students say

“The mentor didn’t give me the answers but helped me work through all the problems”
– Year 8 maths student

“I have learnt a lot from my mentor. Insights of uni life and her future career have been great to think about for my future”
– Year 8 science student

What the teachers say

“The mentor must have instilled something in the students that is very rare and hard to achieve in a secondary college – Intrinsic motivation”
– Kylie Lambert, Maffra Secondary College

What the mentors say

“Students became more engaged with the work when we worked together”
– Selda Ekri, In2science mentor


We would like to thank the Chair, The Honourable Professor John Brumby, for his support and leadership and all Advisory Board members for their ongoing commitment to ensuring the program is well governed.

In2science is fortunate to have a team of highly motivated and dedicated staff.  The team is looking forward to working with current and new partner schools and further expanding the program to support digital learning and girls in STEM in 2017.

2016 In2science Awards Recognises Outstanding Achievements

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The Hon. Prof. John Brumby, In2science Chairman, introduces the 2016 In2science Awards

The 2016 In2science Awards recently recognised and celebrated the outstanding achievements and outcomes in STEM engagement through the In2science peer mentoring program.

In2science chairman, The Honourable Professor John Brumby, presented awards to mentors from all four partner universities, and three partner schools at the Melbourne Museum Theatre on Thursday 1st of December.

Professor Brumby opened the proceedings by praising the continuing efforts of the mentors, teachers, and supporters of In2science. He highlighted the need addressed by the program, “We all know that we’ve got a huge continuing challenge in this area. More results have come out on maths achievement in Australia, and the reality is that this is an area where Australia is really challenged. We look at the countries around us in the world, Singapore and South Korea and Malaysia and now China, they are making big investments into STEM.”

Despite this, Professor Brumby was upbeat about the achievements of In2science, “Tonight is about celebrating the success of the last year. Success in a re-invigorated form. 45 schools, 4 universities. Outstanding engagement from all of the participants. I think it’s true to say that the program is now stronger than ever.”

To recognise the efforts of mentors, there were five award categories. To read more detail about the award winners and finalists, click here.


In2science Awards winners, staff and university representatives with The Hon. Prof. John Brumby, In2science Chairman.


The Mentor Impact Award for the mentor that made the greatest positive impact in engaging students in science or maths went to Selda Ekri from Swinburne University of Technology.

The Role Model Award for the mentor recognised as an outstanding role model for their student mentees was accepted by Andres Alzate of The University of Melbourne.

The Dedication Award for the mentor that showed greatest dedication and commitment to the In2science program was awarded to Tarik Zepcan of La Trobe University.

The Above and Beyond Award for the mentor that showed greatest initiative in engaging students in science or maths went to Shelley Haslett of RMIT University.

The eMentoring Award for the most dedicated university mentor in the online eMentoring program was given to Mitchell Griggs of La Trobe University.

Three awards were given to teachers and schools for their support of In2science mentors.

Teacher Kylie Lambert from Maffra Secondary College traveled nearly three hours to attend the awards and accept the Mentor Support Award for the classroom teacher who provided the most supportive mentoring environment.

The Teacher Program Commitment Award for the classroom teacher that showed the greatest commitment to the In2science program went to Jessica Sartori from Brunswick Secondary College.

The School Program Commitment Award for the school that demonstrated the greatest engagement with the In2science program was awarded to Bundoora Secondary College, and was accepted on the night by link teacher Ross Goddard.

eMentoring Award winner Mitchell Griggs delivered a mentor reflection in which he highlighted the importance of the In2science program in helping to increase levels of achievement in science and maths in Australian schools, which he said have plateaued over the last 20 years according to the 2015 TIMSS report. Mitchell also reflected on the benefits he had gained from multiple placement rounds both in-class and online, “My education, both formal and otherwise was greatly enriched by the experience of being an In2science mentor, and my perspective broadened and informed about the importance of science communication and education.”

Following the official proceedings, the mentors and teachers mixed over drinks and canapes in the foyer with other guests including representatives of the four partner universities, as well as members of government and industry.


For full details about the 2016 In2science Award winners and finalists, click here.

To see a photo gallery of the 2016 In2science Awards, click here.

eMentoring Recognised at Parliament House

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The Hon. James Merlino MP, Minister for Education, Tarik Zepcan, La Trobe University eMentor, Genevieve Lazzari, In2science Director, and The Hon. Judith Graley MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

The achievements of the In2science eMentoring program were recognised by Victorian Minister for Education, The Hon. James Merlino MP, and Parliamentary Secretary for Education The Hon. Judith Graley MP at a morning tea held at Parliament House on the 5th of December 2016.

Along with nine other mentoring programs across a range of areas, the eMentoring program was given special mention for connecting secondary science and maths students in regional Victoria with university mentors. In 2016, In2science eMentoring connected 64 students from five regional schools with 19 mentors, and will continue to grow in 2017.

Mr Merlino acknowledged the contribution of mentors in the lives of young people, “We’re so proud to see the success these mentoring programs have had empowering students from across Victoria. Sometimes it takes a mentor to help show us what we are capable of and these  programs have connected great mentors with hundreds of students.”

Mr Merlino presented a certificate of recognition to eMentor Tarik Zepcan and Acting Program Director Genevieve Lazzari on the day.

Team at PH

In2science eMentors Tarik Zepcan and Mitchell Griggs with In2science staff on the steps of Parliament House.

Mitchell Griggs, who mentored students at Cobram Secondary College, reflected on his experience as a eMentor, “The In2science eMentoring program has given me a great opportunity to share my enthusiasm and encourage more regional students to take on a rewarding career in science.”







Placement Profile: Bundoora Secondary College

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Alex Newsome -edited-2

Mentor Alex Newsome helping Ross Goddard’s students explore the possibilities of new technology.

Every week students of Ross Goddard’s robotics project at Bundoora Secondary College arrive to what looks more like a high-tech workshop strewn with 3D printers, circuit boards, and wires, than a classroom. They have been greeted not only by Mr Goddard, but also In2science mentor, Alex Newsome.

Ross’ first experience with the In2science program was back in 2007. Based on past experiences, he knew what a great resource a mentor could be in the classroom, and having one for his year 8 robotics class was the perfect fit. “Knowing how good they are, the engagement with the kids, the level of knowledge, [and having] the kids see them every week, it’s very important.”

What Ross and the students set out to achieve with the project was ambitious. The students took the lead in designing and building a small army of battle-bots. Ross says, “This is at the cutting edge of what schools are doing with STEM… we’re using Sketchup, 3D printers, Arduino boards, and Autodesk to prototype the electronics without putting a soldering iron to a circuit board. You’ve got to be specific about what you want to achieve, and the In2science mentor has the skills to help lead that group.”

Breakout quoteFor Ross, one of the most valuable aspects of having Alex mentor his students has been his specialised knowledge, “We have no [advanced] knowledge in the school whatsoever about robotics and electrical engineering. Alex is at the opposite end, he knows everything.”

Alex Newsome is studying a Bachelor of Electronic Engineering (Honours) at La Trobe University, and this was his second placement as an In2science mentor. He knew how important it was to give the students the confidence to take risks. “I try to encourage the kids to have the confidence that you don’t need to know everything, you just need to know how to find everything. I think that’s helped a lot of them to have the confidence in themselves. They’d be much quicker to say, well here’s what I thought, and you go, well that’s half right [let’s build on that].”

Alex Newsome -edited

Ross Goddard says his students see Alex’s confidence and believe what can be achieved.

According to Ross, Alex has been a valuable role model to the class, “having someone that’s so confident in what he’s doing, the kids see that and believe what can be achieved. That’s what In2science and what Alex give me. He gives us confidence that we can go into new areas and new technology.”

Alex has been helping the students to feel more capable in their project, “I’m seeing them get involved, starting to ask questions. I really want to highlight to the kids to have the confidence to pick something up and try it, [to give] it a shot and you will have learned something from it.”

Ross says that what a mentor has brought to the class can’t be replicated with any educational resource, “Alex makes things possible that would otherwise be difficult.  Having a person like Alex sharing a goal with me and then sharing that goal with students – you can’t buy that. He’s a unique young man, a great resource, and I’m really impressed.”

For more about requesting an In2science mentor for your class, click here.