NASA Video Conference

Our Year 7 Newman class participated in a video conference this morning with the team from NASA. The video conference was led by Rachel Zimmerman who is based at the Jet Propulsion Lab at NASA in Pasadena, California.

The focus of the video conference was Mars. Rachel took the students on a tour of Mars then through the history of Mars exploration. She also looked at the development of the ‘rovers’ and the implications for humans should they eventually live on the planet.

There were so many things about Mars that we learnt this morning. The students were encouraged to post questions to Rachel and she was able to respond to most in the session.

This is a great way for the class to start their ‘Space’ journey. Over the next few weeks they will begin their Space STEM unit which has a driving question, ‘What would happen if Earth was no longer sustainable?’. This will lead the students to look at the options of colonising another planet, with Mars being an option.

A big thank you to our technical guru, Mr Johnson, for helping us overcome some issues at the start of the session.

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STEM Experiences

Over the recent holidays two of our Physics students participated in STEM related camps at both UNSW and USYD. The camps gave both students an opportunity to explore a variety of STEM activities within a higher education setting.

Janice Nyoto (Year 11)

Sydney University hosted a two-day workshop for female high school students who want to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. I had the opportunity to participate in this workshop which proved to be an eye-opening experience. Some of the highlights include building and programming a Lego Mindstorm robot, visiting Google, entering a full flight simulator and building a hydrogen fuel car model. We also had the chance to engage in a panel of Google engineers and received many insights about working at Google and STEM careers in general. It was definitely a unique and invaluable experience. 

Emily Fossilo (Year 12)

During the holidays, I was given the opportunity to attend the Women in Engineering Camp at UNSW. This program is targeted at young women in Years 11 and 12 who show a passion in Engineering of all kinds and want to pursue it in the future. It is a 3 day program where you visit a variety of locations and talk to industry professionals, established and newly graduated engineers, and high ranking professors.

I had the opportunity to visit a variety of sites including Mars Wrigley, the confectionery company that makes Skittles, Mars, and M&M; Sydney Metro; and ANSTO, a government facility in the ACT with Australia’s only nuclear reactor and where nuclear medicine is developed. There were also many activities that took place at UNSW, which involved building a drone, replicating a pacemaker using plumbing equipment, and coding an app.

Additionally, there was a networking evening where you had the opportunity to have dinner and talk with high ranking professors, engineers and university officials, with some girls securing apprenticeships in areas they were passionate about. We also got to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was an incredible experience.

This was an amazing opportunity and I highly recommend that any girl who has an interest in science gets involved. It was great opportunity to meet new like minded people and get a taste of what it is like to have a career in science.  I highly urge anyone with a passion for science to look into events happening such as this and get involved. It truly was an incredible experience. 

STEAM Punk Girls Project

We are about to embark on a new project with our 8.1 class. They will be involved in a new initiative with STEAM Punk Girls from the University of Technology throughout this term.

Preparation for the project has already commenced with the students completing some preliminary tasks over the last week to help the staff involved prepare for a two day immersion at UTS this week.

Initially the class were asked to participate in an empathy survey to gather their thoughts on a variety of issues. Some of the questions were:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?
  • What issues in the world worry you?

The other task the students were asked to complete was to research a female scientist, preferably from their local area. They were also required to create a poster of any female scientist and share with the UTS team for their Instagram account.

We were fortunate that our 8.1 Science teacher, Miss Ruan, had made contact with CSIRO research scientist Helen Le recently, and  was able to organise a Google Meet for the class today.

The girls had a series of questions for Helen around how she came to be a scientist and the work she was involved in. Helen spoke about how she is currently working in South Australia looking at how the salinity in the soil can be reduced to produce better quality grapes for the wine industry. She also spoke about the need to try and reverse the damage from poor farming practices in the past.

We were surprised to hear her say that she had not encountered any gender issues in her time as a research  scientist. In fact, females dominated the research centre she worked in.

This was a great way to start our STEAM Punk adventure. Over the next two days three staff from the College will work with the team from UTS to create a project based on a real world problem that the 8.1 class will work to solve. The teachers will be involved in workshops with a focus on project-based learning and design thinking.

We look forward to sharing the details of the project in coming weeks.