For the love of Science!

Posted 29 August 2019 11:07am

It continues to be busy in the Science and Technology Faculty, not only during the recent 2019 National Science Week, but also across a broad range of activities and opportunities within the last six months.  The teachers within the Science and Technology Faculty all believe that if students can see it, then they can be it

There is a well-known and problematic stereotype that women do not enter and succeed in STEM careers.  The annual CGGS X2STEM symposium held last week, plus many other events that we encourage the students to be involved in, are all important opportunities for us to inspire the students to not only enrol in STEM subjects but to challenge those stereotypes.

The teachers within the Science and Technology Faculty work collaboratively with the students and encourage them to innovate, explore, experiment and question the world around them.  We simply hope to instill in the students a love for all things science, technology and STEM.   Because we believe that studying science and technology makes you a good communicator, an effective collaborator, a critical thinker and innovative problem solver. 

The annual CGGS X2STEM Symposium is one such opportunity where girls are able to work collaboratively across a range of workshops and activities.  Our third year of hosting this event included nine external workshop providers and it was a highlight of the past few weeks for our Faculty.  The symposium began with the amazing Dr Vanessa Pirotta and as our keynote speaker she encouraged CGGS students to be part of the solution and to follow their passion, even if it involves something as unglamorous as whale snot!

Throughout the day students from Year 5 and Year 8 worked alongside representatives from Mt Stromlo Outreach, Dream Pieces, Cheeky Neurons, Fizzics Education, ANU Research School of Biology, Grok Learning, Dare to be Different, Oz Grav and NatureArtLab. The workshops were broad and varied but a wonderful representation of the many different areas of science and technology.  Year 8 and Year 5 students were invited to:

  • explore astronomy, Mars geology and future space exploration with Brad Tucker from Mt Stromolo, ANU School of Astronomy.
  • use microscopes to create beautiful and inspiring art pieces with DreamPieces
  • study the amazing biodiversity, habitat, conservation and anatomy of Australain reptiles, skinks and dragons through the use of pastels on recycled paper with NatureArtLab
  • make cheeky neurons out of wool as they learnt about epilepsy and the functional importance of the neuron with CheekyNeurons
  • Analyses stars, spectrometry, space exploration through virtual reality with ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav)
  • discover the science required to reach the Moon and the space programs that made it all happen. From trajectories & orbits to rocketry & materials science, Fizzics Education looked at current and future space programs, operations and missions.
  • Learn how important it is to give the correct set of instructions to computers or robots with Grok Learning
  • Code, race cars and break stereotypes with Romy Mayer (data engineer with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team in Australia) and Dare to be Different
  • Study the biological processes in plants with ANU Research School of Biology through virtual reality, DNA extractions from strawberries, microscope stomata peels, and much much more!

In addition to the fantastic X2STEM Symposium, there are a number of local and interstate activities which our students are encouraged to enrol in. Year 11 students Scarlett Bellamy Peate and Natalie Miller have been busy working with Questacon Student Explainer program since March 2019 while Yolanda Yau, Scarlett Bellamy Peate and Emma Phillips all won a scholarship to attend the Youth ANZAAS 2019 Science Camp in Adelaide.  Monique Jeacock was the only female student selected from the ACT to attend the highly competitive International Science School at the University of Sydney, and this is the second year in a row we have been successful in winning this highly competitive placement.  And CGGS had a strong representation at the National Youth Science Forum during January school holidays at the start of the year with Year 12 students Shriya Bellamkonda-Vaka, Nithya Mathew, Genevieve Gilarski, Aletana Ajulo, Jasmin Oren and Liz Abhayaratna were all selected to attend the program in Brisbane.

Below, some of our students provide their thoughts on the opportunities they have grasped in order to further develop their love and understanding of Science:

The International Science School was an incredibly fun and inspiring opportunity. It was packed with highly engaging and challenging activities, and captivating lectures about frontier science, from DNA origami to quantum computers. Additionally, I met incredible people from across the world and forged some truly special friendships. Overall, I would consider the experience the best two weeks of my life. I love trying to understand the universe through science and am fascinated by the applications of scientific discoveries in future technologies.
Monique (Year 11)

Science to me is about having a passion to discover, which the Youth ANZAAS camp gave us opportunities for. This camp was absolutely amazing and it opened my mind to many possibilities of future careers. We visited lots of universities in Adelaide (although it changes place every year), and we explored a wide range of different sciences like mechatronics, biology, the science behind taste, and many more interesting things. The camp let us get to know people our age, who were passionate about certain areas of science. Our new friends were talking about lasers and designing their own canons in their free time. The camp was amazing and I'd definitely recommend it to everyone even if science isn't your strong suit.
Yolanda (Year 11)

I'm super excited to be heading to the ANU ConocoPhillips Science Camp for Year 9 and 10 students, for three days in September. According to the program, we will: “Explore the forensic techniques of DNA fingerprinting, fly model rockets, stargaze the night sky, learn about geological mapping and take a tour of the Tsunami Early Warning Centre. Measure gamma-ray radioactivity, tour a particle accelerator, design a self-drive robotic car, test sustainable water filters and participate in other cutting edge science projects.”

A great aspect about the ConocoPhilips Science Camp is that you get to meet other people from different schools that are also interested in science and you can share your ideas with them as well as learn many things of the different features in science.

A couple of reasons I love science are hearing from other women scientists through school and at events like Green Light for Girls (g4g) and the many STEM opportunities I've had so far at CGGS which have sparked in me a keen interest in science and technology. I'm very interested in astronomy (and will also be going to Space Camp for a week in October). Following the advice I got from two professional astronomers I interviewed, I've also been exploring different kinds of coding, which is cool too.

I loved designing and creating my SeaScout ocean cleaning project for the science fair and want to develop that further, hopefully with a science mentor. There are going to many people to reach out to at the Science Camp that would be keen to help with science projects.
Katia (Year 9)

As an International Baccalaureate (IB) student taking two sciences at ‘higher level’, coupled with the passion for a career in Science, the appeal for National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) was obvious. Two weeks of fun-filled activities and lab visits, science networking and days spent with some of the most amazing people, made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am fortunate enough to be able to experience again this upcoming summer as a student leader.

Not only did it open my eyes to the careers available in science, but gave me the opportunity to meet incredible people, many of whom were leaders in their respective fields. My passion and love for STEM has grown since this experience, further preparing me and increasing the excitement for my final year of high school.
Shriya (Year 12)

Volunteering at Questacon has been an amazing opportunity and experience! I’ve always been interested in Science, and volunteering helped grow that interest into an excitement. I love to explain everything from puzzles to magnetic forces to the people that come through, and I’ve made some amazing friends! Questacon allows me to interact with people and discuss science beyond a classroom setting. Through interactions with customers and other volunteers, I understand science (and consequently the world) better! Questacon is such a rewarding experience!
Natalie (Year 11)

Yolanda, Scarlett and I spent a week in Adelaide at the ANZAAS camp. It was wonderful spending time with so many people who were as fascinated with science as I am. I loved all the workshops and excursions which showed me what was happening at the cutting edge of science and technology. A special highlight was playing with some amazing night vision goggles.
Emma (Year 11)

Being a volunteer at Questacon has been an awesome experience. It has provided me with a fun yet realistic understanding of scientific careers and opportunities for the future. Questacon has allowed me to express my love of science and channel that passion into a productive and educational medium.
Scarlett (Year 11)

If they can see it, then they can be - if we can provide opportunities for girls to see what science looks like beyond the classroom, then it is our hope that they will continue to explore and study within the field of science, technology and STEM.  Because as Dr Vanessa Pirotta told the girls, “We need more females in science and the future of STEM involves you.”

Melissa Musgrove
Head of Science and Technology Faculty

Photo above: Year 5 students getting into the spirit of Science on X2 STEM Day.

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