Mentor David helps students tackle real-life community STEM problems

By | News, Profiles

Often In2science mentors give their students unique opportunities to participate in real life STEM applications. Mentor David from The University of Melbourne is one of them. This year, David presented several workshops to high school students in the Hobson’s Bay City Council through the Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Techology (CREST) program run by the CSIRO.

In these workshops, David focused on applying scientific method to real challenges currently facing their community. David said the most enriching part was giving “them a chance to think about and question how they could use STEM to manipulate the world around them”.

David Gavaghan joined In2science in 2018 while completing his Bachelor of Science, majoring in Infection and Immunity at The University of Melbourne. He became a mentor because he wanted an opportunity to give back, “I believe that the education I received and the influences I had during my high school experience played a large role in where I am today…I wanted the opportunity to pay that forward and help to improve the outcomes of those students from less represented areas”.

According to David, “getting to experience the growth of the relationships you build with the students over a 10-week period” is the best part of In2science. This is David’s favourite part because over time “their curiosity and desire to engage with you and ask questions increases and you start to witness the true importance of your presence in their class”. When asked about challenges David says that coming in as a stranger is always the most daunting, but “it also provides a really great opportunity to apply your creativity and problem-solving skills to think of ways to get students excited about science as someone they relate to”.

This experience with In2science has also prompted David to pursue a postgraduate degree in Secondary Education. “In2science has helped me cement my passion for education and my desire to address the educational disparities that are currently being experienced within Australia. I want to continue to be the mentor and science communicator that In2science has allowed me to be”.

Want to host an In2science mentor? Click here!

 

 

 

Industry and STEM education partnerships highlighted in latest forum

By | Events, News

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.

Toyota funds 30 new In2science mentors

By | News

Students at Copperfield College

This April, In2science was thrilled to receive funding from the Toyota Community Foundation to reach even more western Melbourne students in 2019. Last year, In2science placed 291 mentors in Victorian schools and engaged almost 4500 high school students in STEM-related subjects. Thanks to Toyota Australia, we are now able to support 30 new mentors for six schools and support up to 300 Year 7-10 students in Melbourne’s West.

In addition to opening more mentorship spots within Victorian schools, this grant also enables us to develop additional training tools to support our mentors. By training mentors in more specific ways, students can benefit from deeper and more meaningful conversations about future study and career-planning in STEM related fields. These kinds of interactions are crucial to address barriers that prevent students from pursuing STEM-related studies while simultaneously enriching their STEM learning experiences in high school.

In2science is one of seven organisations to have received funding in 2019 to encourage young people in Melbourne’s West to pursue STEM-related study and careers. The Toyota Community Foundation STEM grants forms an ongoing legacy since the closing of manufacturing operations in Australia.

Meet A Mentor: Mabel Chen

By | News, Profiles

 

Mabel Chen is an In2science mentor at Preston High School and studying a BSc (Mathematics) at RMIT University.

You know that feeling of not knowing what you want to do, but wanting to do and be everything? That is what In2science mentor Mabel Chen says still hasn’t gone away years after graduating high school.

Mabel was a “pretty stock standard” student who achieved good grades until she stopped engaging, her school attendance dropped and her dream of becoming a mathematician was almost crushed.

Not one to give up on her ambition, however, that 14-year-old girl grew up to study mathematics at RMIT University and mentor students at Preston High School with In2science. When asked what Mabel loves about maths, she says it’s how extensive it is. In fact, trying to pin down something specific was difficult, “I love literally EVERYTHING about maths! It’s huge and all-reaching”.

Studying maths isn’t all about geometry and calculus, though. Mabel credits RMIT University for teaching her coding, one of the most valuable skills she has acquired this year. Coding is everywhere, “not just in the selection criteria of new jobs, but it even pops up in the casual conversations at weekend parties (or at least at mine!)”.

For Mabel, maths feeds the “innate curiosity that we’re all born with” and that feeling of wanting to do and be everything? The most important advice Mabel has is that if you feed that curiosity and “go with it…good things will happen”.

Want to host an In2science mentor? Click here!

 

In2science’s Impact in 2018

By | News

In semester 2, 2018, 146 In2science mentors from La Trobe University, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and The University of Melbourne spent nearly 1500 hours working with over 2500 students in 46 schools. The valuable feedback we received from students, mentors and teachers confirmed that In2science is an effective, impactful program that can dramatically improve students’ attitudes towards STEM and STEM career pathways.

In week one of the semester 2 placement period, 57% of students reported that they were confident in understanding maths concepts; at the conclusion of the 10-week placement, this figure increased to 72% – a powerful demonstration of an In2science mentor’s capacity to improve students’ attitudes towards STEM. Moreover, students who interacted directly with the mentor experienced a dramatic increase in their attitudes towards STEM (see below).

The mentor was really approachable and didn’t make it difficult to ask questions, which helped me engage with class discussions more”. – Yr 10 student, Essendon East Keilor District College

Teachers continue to see the value and reap the rewards of hosting an engaged and enthusiastic In2science mentor with 90% of teachers agreeing that the mentor was a good role model for students. As a strong indication of the high regard in which this program as held, 100% of survey respondents indicating that they would like a mentor in the future.

“Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the high calibre of my In2science mentor his professionalism and his earnestness… and how well he was able to communicate with all stakeholders such as young teenage students, teacher aides and teachers”. – Eleni Lambropoulos, St Albans Secondary College

The In2science experience continues to provide ample opportunity for mentors to give back to the community, with 100% of mentors reporting that they spoke about their own pathways, thereby demonstrating to secondary school students that studying STEM and pursuing STEM career pathways is accessible to all.

“I remember being younger and having a set image of what someone in STEM should look like… I am keen to break down those stereotypes and have students understand that STEM is for anyone and everyone”. – Thea Mucas, RMIT University student at Laverton P-12 College

The benefits experienced through participation in In2science are not limited to students and teachers though, with 99% of mentors reporting that they developed skills they will use in the future.

Our sincere thanks to the students, mentors and teachers who took the time to provide their feedback, which enables us to deliver a highly effective program and increase student STEM engagement.

In2science Mentor Training 101

By | News

Exploring the science of slime with University of Melbourne mentors.

Did you know that last year, In2science mentors received more than 800 hours of training? This semester, 175 keen young STEM university students from our partner universities, La Trobe UniversityThe University of MelbourneRMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University attended pre-placement training to equip them with the tools to connect with, and inspire, the next generation of STEM enthusiasts at our partner schools. In2science staff are routinely blown away by our mentors’ commitment, enthusiasm and creativity.

It’s not all serious, however, as mentors tried their hand at leading the group in a number of STEM activities, like slime production. We are excited to see what adventures are to be had for schools, students and mentors in semester 1, 2019 – all the very best of luck to our wonderful mentors!

 

RMIT University mentors ready for training.

 

Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet In2science alumna, Natalie Rode

By | News

Natalie Rode volunteered as an In2science STEM mentor in a Year 8 Science class at Rowville Secondary College in 2016, while studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Biomedical) (Honours) at Swinburne University of Technology. Now an alumna working for global medical technology firm Draeger, Natalie caught up with In2science to share with us how In2science mentoring helped to shape her graduate career and where she aspires to head next.

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