STEM Week 2016

21 July 2016

STEM Week 2016

Fintona has been abuzz with STEM week in full throttle again. This year the focus has been on teachers sharing their love of maths and science and working with areas of the subjects that capture interest and inspire.

Visitors to the school provided added curiosity. On Monday during maths and science lessons the Endeavour Roadshow landed. The team made up of current students from The University of Melbourne Engineering and IT faculties presented an interactive hands-on program where our girls had to imagine themselves as humanitarian engineers and design a bridge, and program a car to drive across it, to source food from a special tree to feed the villagers. There was an obstacle course to complete and a strict budget to adhere to adding to the complexity of the task.

Tuesday saw Dr Marty Ross, a self-described mathematical nomad and circus escapee, stroll back into Fintona to cause mayhem in the minds of our Year 7 & 8 students. They played cylindrical, and then Mobius strip noughts and crosses, explored numbers to infinity and dispelled the magic behind a David Copperfield act. They were left mesmerised and enchanted.

The Year 6s had their share of fun with a Hands on Electricity incursion.

On Thursday, Prof Ingrid Winship a Dermatologist, and inaugural Chair of Adult Clinical Genetics at the University of Melbourne and the Executive Director of Research for Melbourne Health was our speaker at a special STEM assembly. Professor Winship has a wide range of clinical and research interests in inherited disorders, particularly those with adult onset. She has experience in gene discovery and in the translation of discovery into clinical practice. She has also highlighted the societal implications with research into the ethical, legal, cultural and psychosocial domains of genetic technology.

Zoe Schwerkolt was the special guest speaker at our assembly on Friday. Zoe was fresh from her trip to Switzerland where she represented Australia at the International Physics Olympiad. We are thrilled that she won a Bronze medal and already we have 10 girls from the Year 11 Specialist Maths class signed up to do the precursor competition for next year’s Olympiad. She is a fine role model for girls and STEM.

The week also included excursions to Eco-Link for workshops on Chemistry Nanotechnology and DNA techniques and Evolution. TedTalks helped inspire the activities in class and these included sewing the times-tables to create cartiods, making a cat factory with Tinkerplots, exploring data visualisation techniques using travel destinations and creating Escher style tessellation patterns.

There are worrying trends across the country with girls opting out of maths and science at the higher levels. However, at Fintona we are encouraged by the knowledge that through the delivery of our robust curriculum by passionate specialist teachers, supplemented by key learning events like STEM week, our girls will feel supported and inspired to continue to lead and excel in these areas.