In2science is extremely proud of the outstanding young university students who volunteer to mentor high school science and maths students. Their enthusiasm is infectious and the talent and abilities they bring to the program are the reason In2science has such a positive impact on all who participate. In this issue we profile three of our wonderful mentors. Please allow us to introduce you to Chloe, Dalton and Lachlan.
What are you studying, and why do you like it? I am in my second year of uni studying a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at La Trobe University. I like the course because of its flexibility in terms of the subjects I want to learn. My core subjects are a maximum of two biochemistry subjects per semester and then I have free reign. I am doing a human anatomy and physiology major and love every minute of it. The way that all the subjects come together shows how deeply involved every structure of the body is. It really allows me to open up to a broader range of thinking when it comes down to something that can normally be so basic.
Tell us about your In2science placement! At first it was really daunting. I was placed in a biology class but had not done biology since first year. I walked into the first class and they were finishing their topic on plant biology – which was really lucky for me. Then I found out that the next topic was human biology, especially looking at the cardiovascular system. It was almost a real coincidence that this happened because I felt that I could now make a serious impact on the students when it comes to their learning. Every week they touch on a new topic and I am able to guide their thinking about a particular topic.
During the middle and end parts of the program I almost stepped into the teacher’s role in a way that I was able to lead a class discussion, teach them a new topic, or help them with their work if they ever needed it.
Why did you become an In2science mentor? A close friend actually recommended that I give the program a go. He knew I had a busy schedule but said that I would fit directly into the program because he saw how well I can interact with students. At first I was unsure about whether the it would be the right program for me, but I signed up knowing that this would be a great experience and would allow me to help influence the next generation of young thinkers.
What’s the best thing about In2science? Definitely the students. Every week the relationships that I build become stronger and stronger with the students. They look forward to me coming in, and I look forward to seeing them every week. Sometimes we don’t even talk about school – they talk to me about their everyday lives which is the best thing about it. I become less like a teacher, and more like a mentor in that regard.
What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? Don’t disregard science, even in the most basic form. The logical thinking and processes of inquiry that are applied in class apply everywhere in life. If there’s only one thing to take out of your classes, it should be the ability to think, to learn and, in some cases, to relearn.
What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I would like to work in the sporting area, particularly with regards to concussion. I would like to go to medical school and learn how to treat and manage patients that suffer from concussions. Another option is working in research as a neurophysiologist with a specialisation in concussion – this way I may even be able to continue teaching but at a tertiary level.
If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist/mathematician, who would it be and why? James Watson and Francis Crick. They were the ones to discover that our DNA is in a double helix and encodes everything that makes us unique. How they did that during their time is incredible.
What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? Even if you’re not sure about it – do it! You’re not just a mentor for the kids in this role, you challenge yourself to think further. You force yourself to think in many different ways to explain things to students, and importantly, you learn a lot about yourself.
Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!
What are you studying, and why do you like it? I am currently in my third year of a Bachelor of Health Science at Swinburne University of Technology, majoring in psychology and psychophysiology. I love psychology as it has taught me the skills to be able to help and understand others. I find psychophysiology so fascinating as the brain is such a complex system and its capacities continue to astound me!
Tell us about your In2science placement! I am currently mentoring at St. Joseph’s College Ferntree Gully. I was a bit apprehensive at the start as it’s an all-boys year 8 science class, but I liked the idea of a challenge! The boys can be very energetic at times, but it’s really fun to take that energy and get them engaged in what they are learning and relate it to things that they haven’t thought of before!
Why did you become an In2science mentor? I struggled with science at school and never thought I was capable of studying it at university so avoided it altogether during VCE. I really wish I could have had someone tell me back then that I was more than capable and that you shouldn’t let others limit your potential. I want to be that voice of encouragement for students: If I can do science, anyone can!
What’s the best thing about In2science? I had a student who was quite shy, in the sense that he enjoyed science but kept it quiet because all his friends thought it was uncool. He told me that he wanted to have a career in sport instead, as that’s what all his friends wanted to do. I was able to have a lovely chat with him telling him about careers in sport science and sport psychology, both disciplines he had never heard of before. It was lovely to see him become so excited about science and the possibility of what studying STEM could do for him.
What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? Don’t give up on something because you don’t find it easy to start with! If you find the subject matter interesting keep at it and it will become easier with time.
What inspired you to study what you are currently studying? I grew up in England and I know it’s going to sound silly, but I saw a stage show performed by Derren Brown who does tricks based on psychology and I found it amazing! After that, I read as many books about the mind as I could and just knew that’s what I wanted to do with my career.
What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I haven’t fully decided yet, but I know that after my undergraduate degree I want to continue my studies! I love educational psychology, so I want to do either a masters degree or a PhD in that field. I really want to help children to have the best experience and support during their school years as it can be such a tough and challenging time for them.
If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist/mathematician, who would it be and why? Erik Erikson! He was a developmental psychologist who studied humans at all stages of their life. I would love to have been able to chat with him about his findings and how they changed the way we view lifespan development today.
What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? Definitely do it! Yes, it can be challenging, but it is so rewarding. Being able to give students a more personal perspective on studying STEM is invaluable knowledge to pass on. I’ve talked to students who say they don’t like science; yet when they have an open discussion about science with someone who can give them one-on-one attention, they’ve realised that science isn’t limited to what we learn at school, it can take you in any direction in life you wish to go!
Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!
What are you studying, and why do you like it? I’m in my second year of the Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology at RMIT University, majoring in Civil Engineering. I chose to study civil engineering because I’m fascinated by how engineers use maths and physics to design and build structures. Civil engineering is a broad field of study which allows me to explore different parts of it, from super-structure designs above the earth to foundations and footing designs beneath the earth. The study of soil and fluid mechanics are mind-blowing! I love fluid mechanics because fluid behaves in such a unique way under pressure. My lab sessions enhance my understanding of how theories apply in real-world situations.
Tell us about your In2science placement! This semester is my first placement as an In2science mentor at Simonds Catholic College in West Melbourne. It’s an all-boys school and I’m very fortunate to work with an incredible group of year 8 students. Most of my mentoring sessions are lab sessions. For instance, in my first week of mentoring the students did a lab prac on how matter changes due to chemical reactions. Lab sessions are the best way for me to get to know the students and vice versa. I was able to help them with the practical component and questions for their lab reports.
Why did you become an In2science mentor? When I was in middle school, I enjoyed science and maths, but I didn’t have someone who I could talk to or ask questions about STEM. More recently I have found that there are huge benefits when you work through problems and issues with friends, or with someone close in age. This is what inspired me to be an In2science mentor.
What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing about In2science is I get to interact with students who all have very different plans for their future. This program allows me to share my experience, give advice and influence their decisions. Working with teachers and students in a class environment is really challenging, and I find myself out of my comfort zone, but it’s ultimately rewarding. With In2science pre-placement training I have been able to tackle some of the difficulties I encounter during my placement.
What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? I want to make students realise maths and science are fun just like other subjects, and most importantly everyone can be outstanding in a STEM field. People say maths and science are boring unless you’re a nerd, which is a myth. By being in the class and spending some time talking about the student’s interests, I hope they come to realise that STEM influences every aspect of life and that pursuing a career in STEM field is achievable.
What inspired you to study what you are currently studying? I chose to study civil engineering because I want to contribute as much as I can to the development of my homeland, Timor-Leste. I grew up in Timor-Leste, where we did not have the luxuries that first world countries have in term of infrastructure. Learning about the lack of infrastructure, clean water and sanitation in Timor-Leste inspired me to study to become a civil engineer. Since I have a passion for maths and physics, becoming a civil engineer will be the best way to help my community and ultimately my country.
What do you want to do after you finish university and why? After completing my current program, I would like to continue to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) and major in water engineering. After completing my degree, I will go back to Timor-Leste to help my country and apply what I learn here to benefit people in Timor-Leste.
If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist/mathematician, who would it be and why? It would be an honour for me to spend an hour with the great Sir Isaac Newton. His contribution to maths and science is priceless. The application of Newton’s three fundamental laws in our daily lives is enormous. His contribution to calculus makes us realise that there is another approach to solving maths problems besides algebra. Above all, he taught me to ask “Why?”.
What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? Why wait? Get into it! Being in the class means a lot to the students. They look up to you as their role model. Believe it or not, you do influence the students’ views on STEM. Students appreciate the time you spend with them. They get to ask you questions that might not have been asked before. If you think you can’t change someone else’s decisions when they grow up, then think again!
Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!
Meet Alison and Emilly – identical twin sisters studying science at The University of Melbourne. Alison is majoring in Human Structure and Function and Emilly is focusing on Neuroscience. They are passionate about STEM, keen to inspire the next generation of students and are part of this year’s cohort of In2science eMentors.
Emilly is not new to In2science – she volunteered last year for the eMentoring program with a student from Maffra Secondary College, a regional school located in Gippsland. Emilly was surprised by the differences that arise from having a regional education experience: a much smaller cohort and more travel time to Melbourne to access field trips and resources. When subjects were not available through the school they were completed via distance education – a very different experience to education in metropolitan Melbourne.
Emilly really enjoyed engaging with her student, talking about STEM concepts in the news or classroom, as well as talking about future STEM study and explaining misconceptions about university life.
This year Emilly is returning to eMentoring with her sister Alison. Both Emilly and Alison wanted to get more involved at university and in the wider community so being able to mentor students and talk about their enthusiasm for STEM seemed like a great opportunity to volunteer and create some positive change in the community.
This semester, they will both be mentoring students from Maffra Secondary College.They are looking forward to sharing their passion for STEM and encouraging their students in their current and future STEM studies.
The diversity of the 2018 In2science volunteer university mentors is immense and they are continually impressing the In2science team. From reading each mentor’s application, to having an interview, to then undergoing a thorough training schedule, the mentors bring many unique qualities to the In2science program.
Here is a snapshot of some of our mentors who are about to head out to schools for the next 10 weeks:
From being told that she wasn’t cut out to study science or maths subjects at high school, to completing a university research project in machine learning and galaxy classification, Lily is living proof that every student has enormous potential to excel. After discovering her passion for science through an honours degree in nursing, a job in a telescope shop, and Brian Cox videos, Lily is now studying Bachelor of Science (Physics) at Swinburne University of Technology and loving it! She is keen to mentor young students to help them achieve their full potential and to let them know that it’s OK to take some turns to work out where you true passions lie.
At a young age Meg was drawn to the sciences. Her interests ranged from rock collecting to launching homemade mentos shuttles – trying to figure out how to adjust the shuttle’s flight projectile path so it wouldn’t destroy the garden was her first introduction to mathematics. Later on, she combined these two loves to study Petroleum Engineering. Meg has since worked in various oil rigs in the desert and jungles of Asia as an engineer for 5 years. She is now studying a Masters of Analytics at RMIT University and is a passionate and committed mentor who is looking forward to inspiring more girls into engineering.
After spending 6 years in the Australian Air Force Cadets and Royal Rangers Australia, Tim’s interests in solving abstract problems and mathematics brought him to studying a Bachelor of Science (nanotechnology) at La Trobe University. He is an enthusiastic and engaging mentor who underwent his secondary education being home-schooled through the Australian Christian Home Schooling system and is passionate to share his unique STEM experiences and interests with the next generation.
Ashleigh is a Melbourne University PhD student in Medical Biology and is based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Volunteering is not new to Ashleigh. She has volunteered for Embrace Education homework club for years 7-10 students at a high school in Fawkner, and she is passionate about being an In2science mentor because she believes everyone should have access to science and people in science, regardless of their circumstances and background.
These four, along with 100+ other fellow STEM university students, were trained by their In2science coordinator from their respective universities. The specialised In2science training program equips mentors with the necessary skills and confidence required to best help their mentees. Mentors cover a range of key areas including: communication skills, growth mindset, student diversity, gender inclusivity and STEM skills for any job. The training enhances the mentors’ own interpersonal skills, increases their awareness of the importance of being a positive role model and reinforces the required boundaries when mentoring students in the classroom or online.
In addition to the in-person training, eMentors for regional school students were trained online using the same technology they will use with their mentees. This allowed them to utilise the online platform, resources, share strategies and discuss the main stages of developing an effective mentoring relationship within an online environment.
These new mentors will be joining 30+ returning mentors as they all embark on their mentoring journey for the new semester. And although each mentor will have a very unique experience in their allocated group, their passion and enthusiasm for science are sure to inspire the next generation.
My name is Alistair Grevis-James. I am 29 years old, a former In2science mentor, and currently work full time at CSL Limited (Parkville, Melbourne) as an analytical biochemist. I help create biopharmaceuticals to treat serious illnesses, including haemophilia (an inability for the blood to clot), hereditary angioedema (a genetic condition that causes potentially life threatening swelling) and diabetic nephropathy (damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes). I am one of those annoying people who absolutely loves their job!
For me, the In2science peer mentoring program was a critical stepping stone between university learning and working my first proper science job. Fuelled by the rhetoric in popular culture around climate science, nutrition and vaccination, I developed an interest in science communication during my undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne.
I participated in the In2science program in my final undergraduate year, completing a placement at Northcote High School in a year 7 science class. In2science was my first ‘hands on’ experience with science communication and it was fascinating to work with young people who are grappling with the STEM content you yourself grappled with only a few years prior.
The In2science program was a critical stepping stone for my career. The communication skills and experience I gained allowed me to successfully apply for my first STEM job at Scitech (Perth, WA), as an Outreach Presenter. My next STEM role was working as an analytical chemist. My mix of experience was very well received in my interview, and I was able to discuss problem solving I performed during my In2science placement.
In my current role at CSL, my ability to collaborate with colleagues and to communicate scientific information effectively is just as important as my technical skills. Communicating my passion for science, explaining scientific concepts, and building mentoring relationships with students as an In2science mentor was a great way to develop these skills while at university.
The In2science program is of great benefit to the mentor, the teacher and the students. The program is well-structured, with an easily manageable time input. I would recommend the program to any tertiary student studying STEM who wants a unique and valuable experience.
Are you an In2science Alumni? We’d love to share your story! Get in touch via the In2science Alumni Network.
We caught up with In2science mentor alumnus, Anthony Gonzales, now a teacher at Epping Secondary College. Anthony recognises the value of having an In2science mentor in his classroom and is now hosting his second mentor, Alex Dellios, in his year 8 maths class. We asked Anthony to reflect on his time volunteering with In2science and how it helped him get to where he is today.
Anthony, what year/s did you volunteer for In2science and what were you studying at the time? I volunteered in 2004 to 2005. I was completing a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Science Education degree at La Trobe University at the time.
What inspired you to pursue teaching as a career, and what did you learn from your mentoring experience? I decided to pursue teaching simply because I love being around young people and that I always felt I was able to explain pretty hard maths topics using everyday language. There is also that ’emotional factor’ when it comes to maths for most students to which I could identify with and address. My mentoring experience confirmed that teaching was what I wanted to do. I also learnt that students are always welcome to having visitors in their classroom.
Tell us about your In2science placement. I completed about 3 placements for the In2science program. My first placement was at Eltham High School in a Year 7 Science class. One week I was given the opportunity to take a class and I decided to give a ‘Playground Physics’ lesson. We walked to the local playground and the students conducted experiments on the slides and the playground equipment. The students had an enjoyable time as it was a lesson that was different to what they were used to.
What was the best thing about mentoring? The best thing about mentoring was simply being in a classroom full of kids. Students are always great fun and it was a great stepping stone for me before I got into my teaching placements.
What was one of the biggest challenges about mentoring? It was the nerves of being in a new environment. However that quickly became a non-issue after a couple of sessions with the class.
What has been the biggest change in your approach to education since you were at uni? It has been ensuring that the class values a positive learning environment and that the best classroom environment is when a strong relationship between the teacher and the students has been established. Relationships are everything.
Why did you decide to host In2science mentors and what do you hope your students will gain from them? I decided to host In2science mentors simply so that I could give back to the program which helped me along the way to becoming a teacher. I hope my students can see that there are people out there who are simply giving of their time and wanting to engage with them both as people and as students.
What advice would you give other university students looking to get involved in In2science? I would say simply give it a go! It’s an experience not every uni student has the opportunity to have. It’s not every day that you are able to come into a classroom to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.
Are you an In2science Alumni? We’d love to share your story! Get in touch via the In2science Alumni Network.
What are you studying and what do you like about it? I am studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physics and Mathematics at La Trobe University. I love learning something new about the how the universe works every day. It’s been like one big puzzle, the more I learn the more everything makes sense.
Why did you become an In2science mentor? When I was younger I was very disenfranchised with science. I found it boring and just didn’t enjoy it at all, until I had a teacher that sparked my passion for science. She taught me to look at the bigger picture at how everything in the universe was governed by the laws of physics and that these laws were written in mathematics. From that moment on I was hooked by science and I started to appreciate the little things like throwing a ball in the air. So I became an In2science mentor to try spark that same passion in these students and to try and show them the bigger picture, just like how I was shown in high school.
Tell us about your In2science placement. I am currently on my third placement. This time I am in a year 8 math class at Epping Secondary College. Anthony, the teacher I am working with, was once an In2science mentor and it’s been great to hear his experiences as a mentor and a teacher. It has also been my first experience with Maths Pathway which has been interesting, it’s great to see students being able to learn math at their own pace.
What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing about In2science is that it gives students the chance to get a different point of view about maths and science, to ask questions and have discussions about topics the teacher might not have time to go over or talk about. It’s been great hearing some of the awesome questions these students have.
What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? One of the biggest challenges is trying to make maths and science fun and engaging for all students, regardless of whether they love or hate it. It can also be challenging to help students understand a concept they might be really struggling with.
What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? I hope to pass on some of my passion for maths and science so they may one day study science or at least understand the benefits of being scientifically literate.
What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I want to study Astrophysics and become an academic, so I can still do research but also teach.
If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Brian Greene, I think he is one of the smartest people alive and I would love to talk to him about superstring theory, his experiences in science communication and how he makes science so engaging to students.
What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in In2science? Sometimes you may think you aren’t making a difference to these students, but trust me you are. That moment you see a student ‘get it’ is one of the best feelings in the world – knowing you’ve helped this student understand something today that they might have struggled with for a while really is something else. Being an In2science mentor has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, I only wish I found out about the program earlier so I could have done it for longer.