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Giving school students exposure to our scientists

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Agriculture Victoria Senior Research Scientist Meredith Mitchell is sharing her love of science with local students at St Marys Primary School at Rutherglen, hoping to initiate a strong interest in maths and science at an early age.

Dr Mitchell is taking part of the Scientists in Schools, a national program managed by CSIRO run across Australia.

“This program provides skilled volunteers the opportunity to have a positive impact and make a difference to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in primary and secondary Australian schools,” Dr Mitchell said.

“I have been working with the year 5-6 teacher Jodie Smith at St Mary’s Primary School Rutherglen, since the beginning of 2017 and have been going into the classroom every Friday for two hours.

“Mrs Smith and I work together to create informative and interactive lessons around maths and science.

Dr Mitchell said the aim was to promote an understanding of the importance of STEM and to inspire students.

“For example, last term we focused on probability and chance in maths and we had lots of fun looking at the probability of picking a red M&M,” she said.

“We worked through the steps as if they were scientists. The class developed a question, ran the experiment, collected the data, then calculated percentages and decimals, looked at predicted and actual outcomes, graphed the results, then developed conclusions.”

Dr Mitchell said undertaking projects like this with the students demonstrated the importance of evidence-based research, like the research she carries out in her role with Agriculture Victoria.

“During this term in science, we are focusing on states of matter: solid, liquid and gas,” she said.

“As part of this we will investigate reversible and irreversible change, and I expect we will have lots of fun with this topic.

“It’s our aim to show the students there is science behind lots of the everyday things they take for granted.

“I hope that in these students that I help to create inquiring minds. An example of this is not to believe everything that you read/see on the internet.

“My hope is to shift the perception of ‘who is a scientist?’ – it is not just men in white lab coats.

“The other value of this program is that it develops closer links between Agriculture Victoria and local community.”

Source: Agriculture Victoria

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