In2science celebrates the 2021 Annual Awards at Science Gallery, Melbourne

By | Awards, Events, News

The highly anticipated In2science Annual Awards was held at the Science Gallery, Melbourne to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of mentors, students, teachers and schools who participated in the peer mentoring program in 2021.

Throughout 2021, In2science has supported science and maths engagement and education across 54 schools, with 187 mentor placements reaching 3,294 students in metropolitan and regional/rural Victoria. The most inspiring examples from across the program were highlighted at this special celebration.

The event was opened by In2science Program Director, Dr. Alison Every with an Acknowledgement of Country followed by a video showcasing the Mentor Experience.  The Hon. Prof. John Brumby AO was invited to deliver his keynote speech, followed by Prof. Vera Ignjatović, a Director of the Toyota Community Foundation Australia Pty. Ltd. Prof. Brumby spoke of the generous support of In2science’s program and award partners, the Toyota Community Trust, Victoria’s Department of Education and Training, CSL Behring and Boeing was acknowledged, followed by a reflection of this challenging, but ultimately rewarding year. Prof. Ignjatović emphasised on the importance of small gestures in life that can spark a sense of curiosity in something new and congratulated the team on a successful launch of the Mentor Leaders Program, a new endeavour made possible with support from the Toyota Community Trust.

“Sometimes it is the small gestures that make a child or student veer in a certain direction, a respected teachers, an adult, an experience. I’m sure you can all remember a time when someone inspired you to do something different, see a subject in a whole new way or spark a sense of curiosity in something new” – Prof. Vera Ignjatović, a Director of Toyota Community Foundation Australia Pty. Ltd. and Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The first winner of the evening was Brianne Chen of Virtual School Victoria (VSV), who, since taking the reins as In2science’s central point of contact for VSV in 2020 has hosted an incredible 30 mentor placements supporting 32 school students across Victoria. Joint Mentor Support Award winner, Lakshmi Sharma of Coburg High School has built wonderful relationships with mentors and In2science since joining the program in 2019 and continued her enthusiasm by maintaining these connections from in-person placements in Semester 1 to online with remote learning in Semester 2.

 

Two schools, Maffra Secondary College and Bayswater Secondary College took home awards for their school communities. Maffra Secondary College in Central Gippsland has been a committed and outstanding eMentoring partner school since the inception of the regional online mentoring model in 2016. Kristen Raine, who accepted the award on behalf of the school community has been phenomenal in her support of the program and is visibly dedicated to the success of In2science at the school. Amanda Dales received the award on behalf of Bayswater Secondary College, who have been a Swinburne University of Technology partner school since 2012 and is a school who fully embraces the range of benefits In2science and mentorship.

Ashlee Davey of Galen Catholic College, Wangaratta and Fatuma Mohamed of Mount Alexander College were joint winners as eMentoring and in-class mentees this year and enthusiastically accepted the Award from Prof Brumby. An inspiring speech from fellow mentee, Year 9 student from Virtual School Victoria and previous In2science award winner, Alex Zavros-Orr followed, where he detailed his experience with 4 science mentors from a diverse range of science backgrounds over the last 4 semesters.

Lastly, the Mentor Awards were presented. Five outstanding mentors representing each of the In2science partner universities were invited to the stage to be congratulated. The mentors of In2science “are truly the heart and soul” of the peer mentoring program. It is their commitment and enthusiasm that makes the difference to secondary school students. Patrick Taylor from RMIT University received the Boeing-sponsored STEM Champion award for his dedication in the online space during remote learning. Patrick co-facilitated computer science workshops and trained other mentors to do the same while also sharing his education journey in computational chemistry with multiple schools online.

 

John Seymour from Swinburne University of Technology won the Impact Award due to his dedication to mentoring and professional development since starting with In2science in 2019. John participated in eMentoring as well as in-class mentoring and has always shown detailed preparation and facilitation in supporting students to make a “sincere and valued impact.”

Toyota Community Trust sponsored the next two awards, with La Trobe University’s Lily Kenchington-Evans and The University of Melbourne’s Stella Ulm receiving the Dedication and Mentor Leader Awards, respectively. Lily has been an In2science mentor for four years and has always been a “shining example of dedication” through her work with many year levels at a variety of schools in Victoria. Stella Ulm has shown exceptional leadership skills during her 2 years as an In2science eMentor and, after being chosen to take part in the Toyota Community Trust-supported Mentor Leaders program, further demonstrated her outstanding commitment, especially supporting young women in STEM. During her time as a Mentor Leader, Stella engaged with multiple In2science placements through guest speaker sessions and facilitating career discussions.

Madeline Tomkins from La Trobe University took home the Regional Impact award for making an exceptionally positive impact on regional and rural students in In2science’s eMentoring program. Madeline frequently requested multiple placements and has been an extremely enthusiastic, reliable, and dedicated mentor since joining the program in 2020.

Finally, RMIT University mentor, Saumaya Fernando was invited to share her experiences of volunteering with In2science. Saumaya reflected on her motivations for joining the program, what inspired her to undertake a science degree and some notable memories of her time in the classroom. Most of all, as she recounted her experience as a mentor, she is grateful to be “the biggest nerd in the room and have someone look at (her) in wonder”.

The evening finished with good conversation over refreshments among the inspiring artworks of the Science Gallery, Melbourne, the atmosphere feeling all the more electric as all attendees embraced the opportunity to connect with others in person. Despite the challenges of 2021, In2science’s success continues to be reflected through the hard work of its mentors, teachers, schools and government and industry supporters.

Click here to read more about the 2021 Awards

Click here to access the 2021 Awards Photo Gallery

In2science is grateful for the generous support of our Program and Awards partners, Toyota Community Trust, CSL Behring, Selby Scientific Foundation, Boeing and the Department of Education and Training, Victoria.

In2science celebrates 2020 with its first online Awards Showcase

By | Awards, 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.

 

 

In2science Annual Awards and celebrating 15 years of peer mentoring in Victoria

By | Awards, Events, News

The sun was bright and warm on the evening of the 2019 In2science Annual Awards when 140 friends and supporters of the peer mentoring program gathered at the Melbourne Museum. It is the most highly anticipated event on the In2science calendar because it is our opportunity to formally recognize the achievements of exceptional mentors, schools, teachers and students in 2019.

This year was made more special as In2science celebrates 15 years of significantly impacting secondary school students’ attitudes towards STEM and its career pathways through positive mentoring relationships. Since its inception in 2004, In2science has successfully mentored more than 69,000 students in 184 partner schools across Victoria. Indeed, the program continues to expand its reach; this year alone, In2science mentors reached 5,822 students in 58 partner schools, across 320 mentor placements.

In2science Program Director, Dr. Alison Every opened the event with a video that showcases eMentoring, an online mentoring program that benefits secondary students across regional, rural and remote Victoria. Dr Every also acknowledged the generous support of this year’s Awards sponsors, Toyota Community Trust, CSL and Bosch.

Dr. Every reflected on the highlights of 2019, which saw In2science build upon nascent industry partnerships for a greater alignment between industry and education, including: (i) a successful pilot with KBR Inc. where graduate employees particpated in “Meet An Engineer” sessions with regional eMentees, (ii) in collaboration with Engineers Australia, In2science hosted a STEM Partnerships Forum with Australia’s Chief Scientist and In2science Patron, Dr. Alan Finkel delivering the keynote speech (iii) engaged Campus Consultancy to deliver professional development workshops for mentors, and (iv) with support from the Toyota Community Foundation, engaged six schools in Melbourne’s West. Finally, 2019 finished on a high as In2science received news that Victoria’s Department of Education and Training will support our initiatives to engage regional, rural and remote students through eMentoring until 2023.

The Honourable Professor John Brumby AO, Chair of the In2science Advisory Board gave his keynote speech, first acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung people. Professor Brumby spoke eloquently of the importance of turning the large challenges Australia currently faces into opportunities through nurturing and developing the STEM skills in our schools, paying tribute to all who make In2science a success, from teachers, mentors and students to In2science staff, government and philanthropic funding partners and In2science’s five partner universities, La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University.

The Mentor Support Award was awarded to teachers Steve Kuruc of South Oakleigh College, who successfully introduced In2science to his school this year, ensuring its immediate success by providing a welcoming, inclusive environment for mentors and Ben McKenzie from Emmanuel College, Warrnambool who hosted 4 mentors for student groups participating in CSIRO’s Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) program.

Preston High School’s Principal, Sean Butler, then stepped up to the podium to accept the Engagement School Award. Having accommodated several In2science mentors across all areas of their STEM courses, Preston High School’s teachers are enthusiastic and are collectively driven to enhancing their students’ experience in STEM subjects. This year, In2science were fortunate to partner with Toyota Community Trust to engage students in Melbourne’s West. Toyota Community Trust’s, Mr Damien Bayard acknowledged the benefits that are experienced by secondary school students, teachers and university student mentors alike, “A win-win-win relationship”, before presenting Outstanding Mentee Student Award, which was given to joint winners, Jemima Healy from Virtual School Victoria Huy Nguyen from Mount Alexander College.

Annabel Martinac, a year 10 student from Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta, was invited to speak about her experience with In2science and her mentor, Erin Cameron. She spoke about the instant connection she made with Erin and how easy it was to communicate with someone closer in age. At each session they brought a piece of science to share and learned new things each week. Erin gave her guidance and insight to what the future could hold, and soon Annabel felt comfortable and excited to pursue VCE and the opportunities beyond it. Annabel said, “I never thought I’d be sad to have my Monday lunch free and be able to go outside with my school friends. This experience has been more valuable than I could have ever imagined. I would definitely recommend it to any high school student”.

This year In2science was fortunate to receive support from Bosch Australia and CSL to sponsor some mentor awards, showing that employers are taking notice of the important work In2science does for the next generation of STEM graduates.

Ms Amy Kaa from Bosch Australia presented the Impact Award to Nicholas Robinson from Swinburne University, awarded to a university mentor who has made a significant positive impact in engaging students in science and maths. Alistair Grevis-James from CSL, also an In2science alumnus, presented the Regional Engagement Award to winner, Zach Wingrave, from RMIT University, an inspirational university mentor in the online eMentoring program.

Vivian Tran from La Trobe University was recognized for her outstanding contribution to In2science as a winner of the Role Model Award. Throughout the year, Vivian was driven to empower high school students in breaking down negative stereotypes. The Dedication Award was given to Rachael Hart from the University of Melbourne, for her outstanding commitment to the program, her mentees and the mentor community. Sameera Tadikonda from Monash University won the Above & Beyond Award for the exceptional initiative she displayed in engaging students in science or maths. Sameera was solely responsible for planning an excursion and campus tour for her mentees to connect with STEM faculties and labs at Monash University.

Finally, In2science mentor Dionne Argyropoulos from The University of Melbourne was invited to speak about her experience in the program over the last few years. Dionne elaborated on the privilege of working with students and witnessing the spark in curiosity and joy when they resonate with STEM topics.

The sun finally set as the official proceedings ended, and all those who had been involved with In2science reflected on a wonderfully positive year. This success has been reflected through the hard work and support from the In2science team, its Advisory Board, our industry partners, the schools, teachers, mentors and mentees. In2science would like to thank all who have been involved over the last 15 years to make this peer mentoring program impactful and hugely important in improving STEM attitudes and careers of secondary school students in Victoria.

Click here to read more about the 2019 Annual Awards
Click here to see a photo gallery of the 2019 In2science Annual Awards

 

 

In2science is grateful for the generous support of our Awards sponsors, Toyota Community Trust, CSL and Bosch.

 

 

2017 In2science Awards Celebrate Mentor Impact

By | Awards, Events, News

On a balmy November evening, more than 100 guests from universities, schools, government and industry gathered to celebrate the achievements of university student mentors, secondary teachers and their students in STEM engagement. The 2017 In2science Awards, hosted at Melbourne Museum, highlighted the achievements of university student mentors, secondary teachers and students in connecting science and maths in the classroom to the real world and highlight pathways university courses.

The evening commenced with a welcome form In2science Director Megan Mundy and a special preview of a video looking at the placement of Yianna Phaedonos at Copperfield College.

In2Science Chair The Hon Professor John Brumby AO.

Advisory Board Chairman, The Hon. Professor John Brumby AO welcomed attendees and distinguished guests, including the Honourable Judith Graley, Parliamentary Secretary for Education. He spoke of the achievements of the In2science program in 2017, from the time generously given by university students in classrooms and the teachers who support them. He highlighted sheer number of people who have been involved since the beginning of the program in 2004, with 140 schools involved, nearly 2000 mentors, supporting more than 59,000 students. Professor Brumby also made mention of the positive findings of the independent evaluation undertaken by ACER earlier in the year.

Professor Brumby presented the Mentor Support Award to Loan Luong-Nguyen of Westall Secondary College her exceptional support of the several mentors she hosted. The School Engagement Award was given to Galen Catholic College. The Outstanding Mentee Award went to year 9 maths student Jack Esho at Roxburgh College.

eMentoring student Jake Aronleigh shares his experiences.

eMentoring mentee and award finalist, Jake Aronleigh, a student of the Distance Education Centre Victoria, delivered a delightful reflection on his experiences with his Swinburne University of Technology eMentor Wael Farah, recounting all of the exciting things he had learned about astrophysics and his inspiration to pursue his interest in STEM further.

The Mentoring awards followed, with Hasti Zamanian of La Trobe University winning the Role Model Award for her support of students at Templestowe College by sharing her experiences of university life and encouraging them to begin imagining their future education pathways. The winner of the Impact Award was Reza Aliakbari from RMIT University, who developed a great rapport with his mentees at Brunswick Secondary College and contributed significantly to the learning environment.

Anna Drayton from the University of Melbourne was presented with the Dedication Award for not only being an excellent mentor to her year 9 science class at Hume Central Secondary College, but also volunteering to assist the school’s lunchtime robotics club despite no prior experience with coding or robotics. The winner of the Above and Beyond Award award went to Margaret Ngugi from Swinburne University of Technology, who showed exemplary initiative for taking on numerous professional development opportunities offered by the In2science program, and for acquiring new skills in robotics and coding to support her mentees learning with Nao robots at Bayswater Secondary College. The eMentoring award went to Sarah Hegarty of Swinburne University of Technology, who was specifically selected for her three mentees who had a particular interest in astrophysics.

L-R Teacher Loan Luong-Nguyen, La Trobe University mentor Hasti Zamanian, The Hon Professor John Brumby AO, In2Science Director Megan Mundy, Parliamentary Secretary for Education The Hon Judith Graley MP, Swinburne eMentor Sarah Hegarty, University of Melbourne mentor Anna Drayton and RMIT mentor Reza Aliakbari.

Anna Drayton returned to the stage to speak about her experiences as a mentor, during which she described sparking the student’s curiosity for her chosen study of neuroscience as ‘lighting a fire in them’, as she was met with a barrage of questions during a practical lesson involving sheep brain dissection. She was also able to share with students the sensation of being unfamiliar with a new area of knowledge and helping the students deal with the initial discomfort of developing new knowledge when she joined the lunchtime robotics class. Anna reflected on her opportunities to chat to students about what being a university student is like, and the amazing array of career possibilities opened up at univeristy that the students may not yet be aware of in secondary school.

Following the formal proceedings, the attendees enjoyed time to socialise and network together. The event highlighted the wonderful impact in STEM engagement achieved by mentors during the year with the support of the excellent teachers that hosted them. All of the team at In2science is grateful of the commitment of everyone involved, and the achievements of 2017 set the scene for an even greater 2018.

 

Click here to read more about the 2017 In2science Award finalists and winners.

 

Click here to see a photo gallery of the 2017 In2science Awards.

2016 In2science Awards Recognises Outstanding Achievements

By | Awards, Events, News

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.