Category Archives: Profiles

Meet an eMentor: Jessica Li

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IMG_2899What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I’m currently studying a Bachelor in Science, majoring in Molecular Biology, at La Trobe University, Bendigo. The course allows us to choose electives from other faculties and has allowed me to explore the areas of anatomy, pathology and physiology and allowed me to find the links and how it is relevant to what I am learning in my core subjects in a practical view.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I became a mentor because I wanted to inspire young students that there is so much more to STEM then what is in the class room. I feel like I was greatly inspired by my biology teacher in high school who continually fueled my curiosity and I want to return that to upcoming students.

Tell us about your In2science placement. For my placement I am an eMentor. This means I video conference with my students at Camperdown College once a week. It has been a challenge to figure out ways to engage the students over video as activities that can be done is very limited. However, I have learnt a lot about how to engage people, even when there is a screen separating you.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing is when you see the students eyes light up when you hit something that they are interested in. They may not enjoy what they’re learning in class but the interest is still there, and when you find it, it is very rewarding.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? The biggest challenge I have come upon is building that connection with the students when they may not be available every week. A big part of being a mentor is having the trust between you and the student that they are comfortable to talk to you about school and what they want to do in the future. And it is very hard to build that when you see them a once a week, and at times you don’t see a student for a couple of weeks due to school events or holidays.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? I was always a curious child and when I started science in high school and I loved the practical side and loved that moment when everything we learnt in theory clicked when applied in practical classes. As I went through high school I was drawn to the microscopic side of science and the further I got the more curious I got and I wanted to know why and how. I guess I was inspired by my teacher’s questions and encouragement to keep helping me along the way.

What message do you hope to pass onto the students you are mentoring? I want them to know that there is so much to discover and to keep asking why and how. I want them to know to keep trying and not to let what others say stop them to reach where they want to go, because there is always a way if you keep trying.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I want to go into haematology/biochemistry in a hospital lab or pathology. It’s all a big puzzle with haematology and biochem. You get given a list of results to certain tests and you need to work out what is wrong with the patient. Pathology interests me because there is still so much that isn’t known and I would love to figure just a fraction of that puzzle.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Probably Rosalind Franklin or Dorothy Hodgkin. Rosalind was discouraged by her father because he thought that women would find it difficult to be recognised as scientists at the time. But she went onto become an expert in graphite structure and discover there were two forms of DNA,  as well as demonstrated that DNA was a double helix using X-Ray crystallography.

Dorothy had support behind her from friends and family, but was excluded from research meetings because she was a woman. However she went onto help determine the structure of penicillin and the structure of vitamin B12 and how it prevented pernicious anaemia. Dorothy won a Noble Prize for her work in this area.  

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program? Give it a shot, it’s definitely an opportunity to be taken. It allows you to be involved in inspiring possible future STEM students and is rewarding in a way that is hard to explain. There is a feeling of achievement and pride when a students says they understand something or want to know more.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet a Mentor: Margaret Ngugi

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Margaret Ngugi

In2science mentor Margaret Ngugi

What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I am currently in my third year studying Bachelor of Aviation Management/Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University of Technology. I am interested in the workings of the aviation industry as its development is fast paced and very dynamic, but above all I like the degree I am doing because it involves planes.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I have always loved mathematics, ever since primary school. I feel this was mostly thanks to the awesome mathematics teachers I had and the fact that I found maths straightforward. I became an In2science mentor because I wanted to give back to the community. I want to help younger students with mathematics, making sure that they enjoy studying it and that they see how it can allow them to pursue their dreams.

Tell us about your In2science placement. This semester I am volunteering in a year 8 maths & coding class at Bayswater Secondary College. My placement so far has been more about coding than maths, which felt terrifying at first because I had no previous experience in coding. However, I am learning the various programs and I’ve become convinced that coding is actually pretty amazing. It’s also been a great conversation starter with the students. For example, the students were recently programming their own websites and I would assist them in coming up with ideas. Moreover, the teacher Amanda has been very understanding and has incorporated me in the classroom despite my lack of formal expertise.

How do maths and coding combine in the classroom? To understand coding you need to have a basic maths background, since most coding is essentially logical thinking.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The fact that I get to enhance and influence someone’s future in a positive way is the biggest positive for me.

What’s the biggest challenge about In2science? Building rapport with unwilling students can very challenging and requires lots of patience.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? I am interested in piloting but also want to have a degree related to the aviation sector more broadly.

What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? Working to accomplish your dreams and desires in life is never easy, but it’s worth it.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Captain Irene Koki Mutungi. She was the first female on the African continent to become certified as a Captain of the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft. I would love to meet her and speak with her about her experience in the aviation sector, especially as a woman.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program? In2science has been a very rewarding program. I have been able to make an impact in someone’s life and give back to the community, all while gaining professional skills and attending useful workshops [such as the ACER ‘Having Fun With Maths’ workshop]. I would therefore advise any and all students to take a chance with In2science and watch how it changes their lives for the better.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet a Mentor: Andreas Alzate

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In2science mentor Andreas Alzate

What have you studied, and why did you like it? I studied a Graduate Certificate in Science (Pure Mathematics) at The University of Melbourne. I am a mechanical engineer but my real passion has always been mathematics, so I decided to stop working as an engineer and went back to university to study pure mathematics.

Tell us about your In2science placement. My placement was at Mt Alexander College. I enjoyed working with students from different ethnic backgrounds and they were always very respectful towards me. I believe that I helped the students not only with their understanding of mathematics, but also with their perception that people who like mathematics are boring and uninteresting. I learned so much about myself and about teaching. Thanks to the In2science experience, I decided to change my career from engineering to education.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I wanted to make a positive contribution to society through education and also to promote STEM careers. In2science was the perfect opportunity for me in order to achieve these goals.

What’s the best thing about In2science? To be able to help students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. I had the opportunity to be in a high school classroom and this led me to consider a career in education.

What’s the most challenging thing about In2science? My experience with In2science was very positive. The worst thing was having to leave the classroom at the end of the placement after having developed positive relationships with the students.

What inspired you to study a STEM field? In my opinion, mathematics is one of the most coherent, solid, fascinating and beautiful human endeavors that I know of.

What did you want to do after university and why? This year, I am teaching Mathematics at Cranbourne Secondary College as part of a Master of Teaching (Secondary) Internship at the University of Melbourne. After having completed my In2science placement, I discovered that I am very passionate about education and decided to change careers to become a school teacher!

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist or mathematician, who would it be and why? It would be the mathematician Alexander Grothendieck. He was not only one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, but he was also a person concerned about social issues and he was a political activist and pacifist.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet a Mentor: Grace Curtis

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Grace Curtis

In2science mentor Grace Curtis

What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I’m studying a Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) at RMIT University. I love science, I’ve always loved science. I love how it is infinitely complex and tells us things from the composition of all matter, to the expansion of the known universe. I believe that through studying science I have developed a mindset that allows me to think critically and methodically in all areas of life, not just in the classroom, a skill many scientists would say is their greatest asset. Science is always developing, new theories and discoveries are always being made and I suppose the ever-changing nature of science is what has attracted me to study it at a higher education level. The possibilities in STEM are as infinite as our universe.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? In high school I never really had that someone who was able to tell me about science at a university level and even as a career, science was purely learnt in the classroom. When it came time to choose what to do at a higher education level, I knew I loved science, I knew I was good at it, but I didn’t really know where it could lead in the future. That made me unsure about what career options I could have or if science was all research and I’d have to remain at university forever. My overall aim through being an In2science mentor was to share my passion for science with young people who, like me, may not have had that person to show them the potential career opportunities the world of science can offer, and to show that anyone has the potential to succeed in science.

Tell us about your In2science placement. My In2science placement was at Bayside College in Williamstown with a year 8 science class in semester 2 2016. I was placed in a class which had a number students who needed extra help. Their teacher believed my passion for science may ignite their interest. While a significant element of my placement was assisting students with classwork, I was able to build a greater rapport with a small number of students, developing discussions around my evolving career in the world of science and my journey through high school.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing was getting to know all the students in the class. Being able to help them with any problems and seeing them understanding a problem or a principle after I discussed and explained it with them was extremely rewarding.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? The biggest challenge I found was making myself relatable to the students. Even though I’m still a student myself, they view me as an adult and at first a teacher-like figure in the classroom. Breaking down that initial barrier to be able to build rapport with them was the greatest challenge.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? As long as I can remember I’ve wanted to know, how do things work? Why do they happen? What effect do they have on the world or how do they interact with the world? I’ve always had a lot of questions. To me, science provides the opportunity to seek out those answers.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? As my career at university continues to develop I am seriously considering the opportunities that may be available to me in the area of medical research, specifically, cancer research. I believe that there is so much more to discover about this disease, its diagnosis and treatment.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? Marie Curie would be my first choice because she was the first woman to have won a Nobel Prize in two fields of science while overcoming extreme prejudice and discrimination of the time.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program? Just do it. The rewards are incredibly inspiring and motivating. It is an extremely rewarding program that has allowed me to connect with and hopefully inspire future scientists, while also providing me the opportunity to test my own knowledge of science.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Placement Profile: Bundoora Secondary College

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Alex Newsome -edited-2

Mentor Alex Newsome helping Ross Goddard’s students explore the possibilities of new technology.

Every week students of Ross Goddard’s robotics project at Bundoora Secondary College arrive to what looks more like a high-tech workshop strewn with 3D printers, circuit boards, and wires, than a classroom. They have been greeted not only by Mr Goddard, but also In2science mentor, Alex Newsome.

Ross’ first experience with the In2science program was back in 2007. Based on past experiences, he knew what a great resource a mentor could be in the classroom, and having one for his year 8 robotics class was the perfect fit. “Knowing how good they are, the engagement with the kids, the level of knowledge, [and having] the kids see them every week, it’s very important.”

What Ross and the students set out to achieve with the project was ambitious. The students took the lead in designing and building a small army of battle-bots. Ross says, “This is at the cutting edge of what schools are doing with STEM… we’re using Sketchup, 3D printers, Arduino boards, and Autodesk to prototype the electronics without putting a soldering iron to a circuit board. You’ve got to be specific about what you want to achieve, and the In2science mentor has the skills to help lead that group.”

Breakout quoteFor Ross, one of the most valuable aspects of having Alex mentor his students has been his specialised knowledge, “We have no [advanced] knowledge in the school whatsoever about robotics and electrical engineering. Alex is at the opposite end, he knows everything.”

Alex Newsome is studying a Bachelor of Electronic Engineering (Honours) at La Trobe University, and this was his second placement as an In2science mentor. He knew how important it was to give the students the confidence to take risks. “I try to encourage the kids to have the confidence that you don’t need to know everything, you just need to know how to find everything. I think that’s helped a lot of them to have the confidence in themselves. They’d be much quicker to say, well here’s what I thought, and you go, well that’s half right [let’s build on that].”

Alex Newsome -edited

Ross Goddard says his students see Alex’s confidence and believe what can be achieved.

According to Ross, Alex has been a valuable role model to the class, “having someone that’s so confident in what he’s doing, the kids see that and believe what can be achieved. That’s what In2science and what Alex give me. He gives us confidence that we can go into new areas and new technology.”

Alex has been helping the students to feel more capable in their project, “I’m seeing them get involved, starting to ask questions. I really want to highlight to the kids to have the confidence to pick something up and try it, [to give] it a shot and you will have learned something from it.”

Ross says that what a mentor has brought to the class can’t be replicated with any educational resource, “Alex makes things possible that would otherwise be difficult.  Having a person like Alex sharing a goal with me and then sharing that goal with students – you can’t buy that. He’s a unique young man, a great resource, and I’m really impressed.”

For more about requesting an In2science mentor for your class, click here.

Meet a mentor: Harry Bennett

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Harry Bennett

Harry Bennett

In2science mentor Harry Bennett

What are you studying, and what do you like about it? I am in my third year of the Bachelor of Engineering (Robotics and Mechatronics)(Honours)/ Bachelor of Computer Science at Swinburne University of Technology. I love the interdisciplinary nature of my degree and the numerous opportunities it can lead to. The combination of mechanical, electrical, and computer sciences is an exciting crossroads that allows me ask the question ‘How does this work?’.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? STEM education has been a big part of my life, it only seemed natural that I should help communicate my experiences and ideas to younger generations who might be interested in pursuing a future in engineering or science. In addition, the prospect that I can make a positive impact on younger students, who were not as fortunate as I was at their age, fills me with a great deal of satisfaction.

Tell us about your In2science placement: Currently I’m placed in a year 8 science class at St Joseph’s College Ferntree Gully. This is my second placement with this class. My favourite experience has been the Martian science topic they covered last semester.    I was able to arrange a visit from one of my classmates where we demonstrated the cool capabilities of a NAO Humanoid Robot to Karen’s class.

What’s the best thing about In2science? Being able to communicate to students on their level without the barriers of formality is where I believe I have the greatest impact. It’s exciting to have a casual chat with a student and see the spark in their eyes when they cross the conceptual hurdle of understanding.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? Convincing them I am not a teacher! Quite a few students don’t realize I am not a teacher but a volunteer that enjoys being there on the road of their education.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? Engineering is an exciting field. Reading about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and their Apollo 11 mission inspired me to study engineering as it is an opportunity to have an impact on the physical world.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? Space sciences have always fascinated me so if I could combine space and robotics that would be really interesting.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? I’d love to meet Pierre Simon-Laplace, a famous mathematician who created the mathematical tools I use in robotic control.

What advice would you give other students looking to get involved in the In2science program?

 Do it. It takes time to travel to the school and back but I never leave my placement sessions with any regrets. It will take time to learn how to act and behave in a classroom environment but the reward that you have made an impact on a young person’s perceptions about STEM is fulfilling beyond words.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet a Mentor: Khaleel Mohammed

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Khaleel Mohammed Khaleel Mohammed

What are you studying, and why do you like it? I am currently studying Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne, and find it very appealing as science had always been my favourite subject at school. I especially like the biological aspects in which I can study the structure, systems and functions of the different parts of the human body.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? The actual idea of visiting schools to assist and encourage students studying science is what drew me towards becoming a mentor. Although I aspire to be doctor, I always enjoy teaching and tutoring roles and In2science just opened that option for me.

Tell us about your In2science placement. I am mentoring at the school from which I graduated,  John Fawkner College. I really enjoy working with the students. It is a fairly small class and I like it that way, since I get to spend a lot of time with every student and it’s much easier to handle when asked to work in a group.

What is it like returning to your old school? I really enjoy meeting all my old teachers and talking about the changes that have occurred in life. It’s also a great feeling to be sitting inside the staff room and drinking coffee when back in the days I had to stay outside the door!

What message do you hope to pass onto the students in your In2science class? I want the students to know that they are all capable of pursuing a career in science and I see it in them.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The fact that it exists is the best thing. Another great thing for me is the time frame. Once a week for ten week really works for me.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? After I complete my bachelors, I intend to enter Medicine and continue further onto becoming a cardiac surgeon. It’s been my dream since I was 9 and now, I just can’t think of doing anything else with my life.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist or mathematician, who would it be and why?

John Craig Venter. He is working on creating synthetic cells after completing the human genome. I want to know whether it would have occurred to him that this would be possible while he was studying the human genome and while at college. I would also like to know his ethical viewpoints on synthetic life.

Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet a Mentor: Zack Yarak

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Zack Yarak Zack Yarak

 What are you studying? I am currently studying a double degree, Bachelor of Engineering (Civil & Infrastructure) (Honours) / Bachelor of Business (Management) at RMIT University.

Tell us about your In2science placement: My placement was an amazing experience. Aside from giving me experience in working with young students and inspiring them to work hard in maths and science and pursue a career in those fields, it was also great fun. I got to meet a lot of young kids, and that brought me back to when I was their age, so it was quite nostalgic in that sense. I got to return to my old high school as well. It was very nice, as I got to see some of my old teachers, and the kids connected with me even more once they knew I attended the same school as them.

Why did you become an In2science mentor? I had an In2science mentor when I was in high school. I remember the impact it had on me and some of my decisions going into VCE and even university. I felt like this would be a good way to give back and help inspire young students the same way I was at that age. I am very passionate about engineering and wanted to encourage kids to gain an interest in maths and show them how it can be applied to exciting courses and careers. It was actually quite surprising to see how many students had an interest in engineering and how they can go about studying it in the future.

What’s the best thing about In2science? The best thing about In2science for me would have to be the positive vibes that come from everyone in this program. Everybody is very passionate about science and encouraging others to be interested in it. There is always a great exchange of ideas and stories and I believe this positivity and passion will flow into the younger generation who we mentor and they will continue to spread the good vibes and love of science.

What’s one of the biggest challenges about In2science? Honestly, I felt that the whole In2science experience went smoothly and I didn’t run into too many challenges. It was a little bit difficult to motivate certain kids who were completely disinterested in maths, but with some time and dedication, those kids even seemed to come around on it.

What inspired you to study what you are studying? I think the biggest inspiration for me which led me to the course I am studying were certain teachers and mentors along my high school journey. I think the importance of mentors cannot be understated. My year 11 and 12 physics teacher was probably the biggest reason I am studying this course and have such a strong passion for physics and engineering.

What do you want to do after you finish university and why? I want to work as a project manager on infrastructure projects around the world and eventually specialise in rebuilding infrastructure in third world countries. I am very eager to get out into the real world and work on projects that will help move society forward and create a better standard of living for everybody.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist, mathematician or engineer, who would it be and why? I would want to chat with Isaac Newton, he achieved so much in the fields of science and mathematics. He developed the three laws of motion which are integral to engineering as well as discovering calculus, one of the most important foundations for engineers that followed.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!

Meet an eMentor: Lauren Grimes

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Lauren Grimes

What are you studying?  I am in my final year of the Science Double Degree Program at La Trobe University. Through this program I have been able to study two degrees; Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences, with majors in Agriculture, Zoology and Microbiology (and a minor in Psychology).

Tell us about your In2science placement:  This was my first In2science placement, and to make it even more exciting I was lucky enough to be part of the eMentoring pilot program. This meant that all of my In2science sessions were run over a chat program online! I worked with four year 8 science students from Cobram Secondary College. Given that it was just myself and the students, we had the freedom to talk about whatever came up and focus on any particular areas each individual student was interested in or needed help with; no two weeks were the same!

Why did you become an In2science eMentor?  I believe that, unfortunately, many people view mathematics and science as daunting or difficult fields of study, and therefore avoid them completely. For me, being an In2science eMentor was about breaking down these stereotypes and showing that science and maths can be interesting and fun. I specifically liked the eMentoring as the students I worked with had an extra set of obstacles to overcome as they live in rural locations.

What’s the best thing about eMentoring?  I would have to say the small groups (as opposed to being with an entire class), as it allowed me to get to know each student well and tailor the topics we covered to suit their interests. Although it was through a computer screen, it seemed much more personal and relevant for everyone involved.

What’s one of the biggest challenges of eMentoring?  One of the interesting things about eMentoring is that there is no teacher present; just the mentor and the students. Sometimes this made it hard to prepare in advance for our sessions, as I didn’t always know what topics were being covered in class. It meant I had to think on my feet and be flexible – luckily I was trained up and had ample resources from In2science to help with sessions.

What inspired you to study science and mathematics?  I love that science and mathematics always have a correct, concrete answer or concept. On top of this, with science in particular, there is always more to discover! I find it really inspiring knowing that there is so much we don’t know about the world we live in and that I could be the one to discover something new!

What do you want to do after you finish university and why?  My degree has allowed me to study many different areas of science, and this appears to be a blessing and a curse at the same time! Each year I seem to fall in love with a new discipline (this year it’s microbiology) and this means I am constantly looking at different careers and pathways. My end goal is to work in biosecurity and animal health though.

If you could have an hour to chat with any scientist or mathematician, who would it be and why?  I would have to say Sigmund Freud! He was, and still is, a huge influence in the field of psychology and made so many interesting contributions. Although many of the theories he proposed have since been discredited, I would love to meet him to observe his personality and gain an insight into his absurd way of thinking.


Want to become an In2science mentor? Click here!