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Engaging students in STEM during COVID-19 – In2science online forum

By 20 August 2020News

On the evening of Wednesday 5 August, Victorians braced themselves for a second lockdown period meaning that young people across the state would once again be separated from face-to-face learning, their peers and formative life experiences. It was an opportune time then for In2science, in partnership with Engineers Australia, to host a national panel of esteemed STEM experts to discuss how we support students in these unprecedented times.

The panel focused on innovative approaches to the discussion: In the COVID-19 environment, how do we engage students in STEM disciplines? Looking beyond the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we enlisted STEM experts and educators who have long standing experience working with students facing barriers to education. We were thrilled to have Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador, Author, Astronomer and Broadcaster, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith as keynote speaker. Prof Harvey-Smith then joined our panel, which included CEO of Engineers Australia, Dr Bronwyn Evans, founder of Deadly Science, NSW Young Australian of the Year and Indigenous STEM champion, Mr Corey Tutt, and Junior School Principal at Melton Secondary College, STEM educator and former In2science mentor, Ms Kathryn Sobey. This panel discussion was moderated by In2science Chairman, the Honourable Professor John Brumby AO. 

Prof Harvey-Smith kicked off the event with an inspiring keynote address targeting the barriers facing young people progressing in STEM careers. Professor Harvey-Smith spoke about how holistic learning experiences are powerful tools to engage school students, particularly for young women. These include experiences which are drawn from real world connections between community and career outcomes rather than rote or content-based learning, “This will show our young people that it is possible for a STEM career to take them somewhere really special”.

An insightful discussion followed on the very tangible impact COVID-19 has on young people by Melton Secondary College Junior Principal Kathryn Sobey, the role that industry can play in creating partnership opportunities with schools and communities from Engineers Australia CEO Bronwyn Evans and novel ways we can create meaningful engagement with young people from rural and remote communities, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, from Deadly Science founder, Corey Tutt. The discourse and commentary was refreshing in a time when many Australians are navigating the anxiety of an uncertain future. More importantly, the event highlights that the current crisis creates an opportunity for positive collaboration to support our young people in their STEM journeys in a post-COVID-19 world.

“Science equals hope and education is freedom” – Corey Tutt, founder of Deadly Science, NSW  Young Australian of the Year and Indigenous STEM champion

Over 220 participants joined this live discussion and were able to ask questions in real time, sparking a renewed enthusiasm for tackling the challenging road ahead. To watch (or re-watch) this event, click here. Here you will also find the contact details and links to get in touch with our speakers, or you can contact the team at In2science directly [email protected].  Finally, In2science expresses its profound gratitude to Engineers Australia and our generous event sponsor, CMP Consulting Group’s Gems in STEM program.