The Ruyton Reporter - Spring 2014 - page 11

11
spring 2014
Science Alive
As Science educators our role is two-fold: firstly,
we have a responsibility to ensure all students have
the appropriate skills and understanding to be
scientifically literate citizens in an age where science
and technology touches all aspects of life; secondly,
we need to inspire and engage students to be
passionate about pursuing careers in all areas of
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
At Ruyton engagement in STEM begins early, as discussed by Mr Ross Baker on page 8.
Year 6 students move to the Senior School laboratories and are taught by Senior
School science specialists. This programme provides a wonderful transition for the
girls as they prepare to enter the Senior School in the following year. It is highly
anticipated by girls as a point of difference in the Year 6 programme. These girls can
then act as mentors in science for students new to Ruyton in Year 7 the following year.
The focus during Year 6 is on the development of skills in the scientific method and
laboratory skills, with students putting their skills to the test as they design their
own experiments for the Science Talent Search (organised by the Science Teachers
Association of Victoria). Year 9 students also participate in this competition, often
fondly remembering the experiments they designed in Year 6.
In the Senior School, there is a continued emphasis on learning through exploration,
and experimental work forms a major part of the science curriculum.
A recent innovation has been the involvement of the School in the Science and
Technology Education Leveraging Relevance (STELR) programme developed by the
Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). STELR is
a hands-on, inquiry-based programme used in the delivery of the Year 8 unit on
energy. Following the theme of environmental science and renewable energy,
students attempt to answer questions such as,
What number of blades on a wind
turbine provides optimal power? Why are commercial wind turbines not built with
this number of blades? Are criticisms of wind turbines justified?
An additional focus in the Senior School is to provide opportunities to explore STEM
beyond the School environment. A visit to the Australian Grand Prix provides an
opportunity to learn about STEM technologies in the design of Formula One cars
and race track design. The Australian Synchrotron provides a number of year levels
with an insight into the research Australian scientists are conducting at this facility.
Experiences at the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC) allow students to
manipulate, alter and separate DNA. The facilities at a number of the universities
in Melbourne are well utilised by Ruyton students, sparking the students’ interest in
the study of science at the tertiary level, and there is a high level of participation in
external competitions.
Ruyton is also part of the Scientists in Schools programme, with a practising scientist
visiting the School and assisting with a range of activities, giving the students further
opportunity to engage with science professionals. Other ways we promote careers
in STEM include participation by students in seminars run by young women scientists.
Past students are also invited back to the School in order to share their experiences
and inspire students into STEM careers.
Mrs Susan Fryer,
Acting Dean of Science
Introduction to Ruyton – on film
Last year the Development Office collaborated with Mr Paul
Brandner in the Art Department to produce a video which was
used for promotional purposes on the School website. For his Media
Electives Paul accepted the brief for his Year 10 students to put
together a piece on flipped learning, interviewing Ms Nicole
Volkmann from the Science Department (see page 12 for this report
on flipped learning.) The exercise fulfilled two purposes: it was
a worthwhile educational experience for the students and it was
a meaningful way for the girls to be involved in the promotion of
the School. This year we have embarked on the ambitious project
of interviewing significant Heads of Schools or Departments and
we have started with the Principal. Paul conducted the filming and
the girls have put together the footage, editing the film, adding
music and other photographs. The footage we have seen so far has
been excellent and we have enjoyed the insights into the School
from a Year 10 perspective. We intend to display the best of these
films on the Ruyton website as soon as they are ready. It is exciting
to see how engaged the girls are when they have a real project
upon which to focus their talents.
STEM at Ruyton
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