In2science mentoring relationships have a significantly positive impact on secondary school students’ attitudes towards STEM and STEM career pathways, however it is but once a year that we embrace the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the achievements of the highly dedicated schools, teachers, university student mentors and secondary school students who participate in In2science.
Day turned to night as the storm clouds rolled in, mere hours before the Annual In2science Awards. However, this did not dampen the spirits of 160 In2science mentors, teachers, students, special guests and their family and friends, as they descended on the Melbourne Museum to reflect on another highly successful and impactful year that saw 291 mentor placements across 53 metropolitan and regional Victorian schools reach 4,470 students.
In2science Program Director, Megan Mundy, opened proceedings by playing a video, where In2science eMentee, Sanjna, described her interactions and experiences with mentor, Rohan. Describing some of the highlights of 2018, including the implementation of teacher workshops to increase the effectiveness of mentor placements, collaboration with Victoria’s Lead Scientist Dr Amanda Caples through the VicSTEM Alliance to connect with other programs in Victoria and fostering relationships with Industry including hosting events like the Industry Schools STEM partnership forum and the Ericsson Mentor Workshops.
The Honourable Professor John Brumby AO, Chair of the In2science Advisory Board, then presented his keynote speech, first acknowledging the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung people, the traditional custodians of the land. Highlighting In2science’s innovative features and impact over 15 years of engagement in 160 schools with nearly 2500 mentors reaching over 63,000 students, Professor Brumby paid tribute to all have contributed to its overwhelming success, including In2science staff, government and philanthropic funders, the five partner universities – La Trobe University, The University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University and Monash University – and, of course, the teachers, mentors and students. Professor Brumby also paid tribute to retiring In2science Board members, Soula Bennett and Professor Bob Williamson for their significant contributions over many years.
The first joint winners were announced, teachers, Kathryn Sobey of Auburn High School and Stevenson Knight of Templestowe College. Kath, a long time champion of In2science started as an In2science mentor and since commencing a career in teaching, has hosted 10 mentors, who have appreciated her deep commitment and conscientiousness to ensure they can make an impact on their student mentees. Demonstrating similar commitment to the mentor experience, Steven supported four mentors in 2018, providing feedback to mentors and facilitating optimal engagement with students.
The In2science Program Commitment Award was presented to Science Coordinator, Maylin Evanochko and teacher Teresa Eva, of Hume Central Secondary College. The school has hosted 10 In2science mentors in 2018 across all three campuses and have supported the program since 2016.
The two outstanding In2science student winners, Annabel Martinac of Galen Catholic College Wangaratta and Sapir Triffon of Glen Eira College, also excitedly stepped on stage to receive their certificate and book from Prof Brumby.
Madelaine McInnes, year 11 student from Sacred Heart College in Yarrawonga, then stepped up to the podium to tell us of her experiences with eMentoring and to sing the praises of her mentor, Sabrina Erdossy, a Bachelor of Biomedical Science student at La Trobe University. The audience was in awe and her parents beamed with pride as Maddie so eloquently described how the bond she and Sabrina shared has seen her passion for science and her self-confidence grow.
Megan, returning to the stage, noted, “Mentors are the heart of the In2science program. It is their enthusiasm and commitment that really makes a difference in classrooms”. First winner, Saumaya Fernando of RMIT University, presented with the Role Model Award, inspired and mentored young women at her former school, Pascoe Vale Girls College.
The Impact Award winner, Lily Martin of Swinburne University, was unable to attend, but we heard of how she took on a leadership role, forming impactul relationships with students and the teacher alike. In teacher Kathy Sobey’s words, “I have never seen such a strong example for young women in STEM as Lily. She had our students all wanting to sign up to physics degrees in the first 10 minutes of her being in the class.”
The Dedication Award, presented to Lachlan Doyle of the University of Melbourne, recognised Lachlan’s enthusiasm in quickly establishing relationships with year 8 maths students from his former school, Footscray City College.
Recognising the extra initiative taken to engage students in science or maths, the award for going Above and Beyond was presented to Lachlan McPhee of La Trobe University. From day one, Lachlan enthralled his pre-VCE biology class, demonstrating an ability to be immediately relatable.
Last, but certainly not least, the eMentoring Impact Award was presented to Sabrina Erdossy, who was lauded in Maddie’s speech earlier in the evening. The excited discussions between Sabrina and Maddie exemplified the strong friendship and respect that can grow throughout placement between mentor and mentee.
To conclude the event, Above and Beyond Award Winner Lachlan, regaled the audience with his In2science experience, first describing his apprehension about his placement in a biology class, but then extolling the virtues of the program for not just students, but also for his own personal development. Lachlan’s experiences as an In2science mentor facilitated a growth in confidence about his teaching and communication skills, which has now seen him secure an academic position at La Trobe University.
As the official proceedings drew to a close all those fortunate to have been involved in In2science, from the Staff and Board members, through to the teachers, mentors and mentees, all present at this wonderful event reflected on a hugely successful year. Ultimately, while honouring schools and individuals, the evening provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on the significantly positive impact that In2science has on secondary school students’ attitudes towards STEM and STEM careers over the last 15 years.