The Bionics Institute is passionate about inspiring young women to choose a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Recent government research shows that the proportion of women working across all STEM-qualified industries has increased from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2020. While this is a great improvement, the report says significantly more change is need to achieve gender equity in STEM in Australia by 2030. Following the success of our inaugural Girls in STEM Mentoring Program in partnership with Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School, which has been running since 2019, Bionics Institute CEO Robert Klupacs aims to expand this program across more schools over the next few years.
The Bionics Institute would like to invite 2-4 of your school’s Year 10/11 students, who have a strong interest in STEM subjects, to join the program in 2022. These students will have the unique opportunity to be mentored by our leading female research scientists over a 6 month period, culminating in an October Junior Science Awards of Excellence Ceremony.
In Term 1, your school selects up to 4 students to take part in the program and nominates a teacher to liaise with the Bionics Institute.
The 4 students are divided into two pairs and each pair is allocated a research mentor and project by the Bionics Institute at the beginning of Term 2.
All students from your school are invited for a tour of the Bionics Institute to meet their mentors and find out more about the program.
Our research mentors will communicate with their allocated students by email and arrange to meet 4 or 5 times over 6 months for 20-30 minutes, either in person or via Zoom.
Your students will be asked to gather information on a specific area online approximately once a month with the aim of developing a literature review. Initially, the information will be broad, for example hearing impairment. It will progress on to more detailed information about a specific area, for example cochlear implants. Towards the end of the program, your students will be introduced to information about their mentor’s specific area of research.
At the end of the program, each pair will present a 5 minute PowerPoint presentation of their literature review at a Junior Science Awards of Excellence Ceremony to be held at the Bionics Institute in East Melbourne in early October. Parents and key learning staff will be invited to attend and each student will be presented with a certificate to recognise their achievement.
Each month for four months students will research one topic area on Google and write a one-page summary of their findings in dot point format.
Mentors will arrange a short meeting, either in person or on Zoom to discuss the summaries, give feedback and answer questions.
Once the 4 summaries have been written mentors will ask students to create a PowerPoint presentation based on their work and also discuss real research papers so that students see this aspect of research.
Students and their parents attend the final ceremony and give a 5-7 minute presentation in pairs.
Our students have been involved with the STEMM project offered to Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School at the Bionics Institute for several years. Through this project, the students have relished the opportunity of working in research science with acclaimed female mentors. Not only have they had experience in laboratories and other research settings, their mentors have given a firsthand account of a career for women in science research fields.
Mentors have provided insight all the way from undergraduate entry and experiences, through the process of applying for grants and other funding as well as presenting research finding at conferences. These insights have been invaluable for our students. In addition, they have enhanced their communication skills, effectively and regularly communicating with their mentors and ultimately presenting their projects to a broad audience.
We thank the Bionics Institute for offering this unique partnership and opportunity to our students. I would especially like to thank the female mentors who have shared their time and expertise with our passionate students.
Dr Fiona Alderson (Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School 2021)Expression of interest
If your school would like further information or you are interested in being involved in next years’ Girls in STEMM mentoring program, please email [email protected]