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.

 

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

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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

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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 celebrates 2020 with its first online Awards Showcase

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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

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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.

 

 

Industry and STEM education partnerships highlighted in latest forum

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A sellout crowd gathered at Engineers Australia on May 22nd to participate in the In2science STEM Partnerships Forum. This year, participants focused on the question, “What can we do better together?” to improve current collaborations across the industry and education sectors. This provided a unique platform for industry, school and STEM outreach program representatives to openly discuss challenges and devise strategies to maximise the impact of current STEM programs.

Three messages Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel wants all employers to share with students:

1. Don’t drop English and Maths
2. Your degree is not the end of your education, it’s what opens doors
3. Give students real life problems, not job titles 

Dr. Alan Finkel AO, Australia’s Chief Scientist and In2science patron delivered the opening address, emphasising the need for developing STEM skill sets in young Australians so they can “thrive in a world where there are no guarantees.” He stressed that school and industry partnerships are invaluable because a STEM qualification is a doorway to opportunities that may not yet exist. His advice to students were three-fold: 1. Don’t drop English and Maths; 2. your degree is not the end of your education, and 3. STEM education addresses real world problems, not specific job titles.

In2science Advisory Board Chair and La Trobe University Chancellor, The Hon Prof John Brumby AO, moderated the discussion panel that followed, fielding questions that encompassed the current challenges facing STEM programs. When asked how to get more students to study science, Jess Sartori, Assistant Principal of Preston High School, said that having programs like In2science is encouraging and refreshing because students can talk honestly to university mentors about their job prospects. Gavin Smith, President and Chairman of the local subsidiary Robert Bosch Australia, agreed saying that, “we as a multinational will need so many STEM-qualified people within 10-20 years. We think the figure is about 90% of all the jobs in our company will require STEM skills.”

To address the issue of poor participation rates in female students, Sartori emphasised the importance of having female role models, and to challenge students to solve real-life problems. Alesha Printz, the General Manager, Victoria Division of Engineers Australia, highlighted an industry problem saying, “The percentage of female engineers tend to hover around 13% of the profession…There is a huge marketing issue for women. I think it’s around shifting the message that we’re giving to young girls and giving them the confidence that they can be good at this.” Brenda Frisk, Director of Wyndham Tech School, agreed saying, “One of the main areas that we’re focused on is leadership in women…I think it’s about giving girls the permission. We still don’t do that. It’s about giving them the voice to be able to speak.”

One of the areas we’re focused on is leadership in women…I think it’s about giving girls the permission. we still don’t do that. It’s about giving them the voice to be able to speak.” – Brenda Frisk, Director of Wyndham Tech School

Frisk also emphasised the importance of alignment between industry and education in their investment. Printz highlighted that spaces like the In2science STEM Partnerships Forum are what bridges the gaps between industry and education, stating, “if we can actually understand each other’s perspectives [we can] support each other to help solve this problem.” Smith agreed, saying that industry often puts the blame on universities for not providing job-ready graduates, but “industry has to provide the input, no question” to what is actually needed from graduates to solve problems.

In closing, Sartori praised the In2science program saying, “[In2science] makes it easy for me. It has a lot of value. I can see the impact that it has on the students. I know it’s powerful because I had my gorgeous Year 12s graduate, go into science degrees, join In2science and come back to the school and give back”.

Additional questions from the floor sparked more robust discussion, which continued well into the evening as panellists and attendees mingled over canapes and drinks. Events such as these, which promote partnerships and collaboration between schools, universities, industry and outreach programs are invaluable for catering to the growing interest and need for STEM outreach programs. In2science would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Engineers Australia for providing the exceptional venue and to Dr Finkel, our esteemed panellists and all attendees for an inspiring and successful evening.

I know [In2science] is powerful because I had my gorgeous Year 12s graduate, go into science degrees, join In2science and come back to the school and give back.” – Jess Sartori, Assistant Principal of Preston High School

Follow and continue the conversation with #in2partnerships on Twitter and the VicSTEM Alliance Linkedin Group. For more information about STEM outreach programs, search the STARportal. Click here and here for the Twitter recording of the event.

Preparing students for STEM careers: how can Industry help?

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On Thursday 13 September 2018, In2science will host a free forum on industry-school partnerships in STEM education. We invite you to join us to hear from leaders in industry, education and government, and to share your ideas and experiences.

In this article, we explore the emergence of such partnerships as a priority in STEM education policy and the benefits that they can provide to schools, students and industry alike. Read More

Supporting Girls in STEM a Huge Success

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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.