The Bionics Institute has initiated a program to inspire high school students to follow a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students from a range of schools are mentored by leading female scientists over six months. The program culminates in a celebration event in October.
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Inspiring young women to choose a career in STEM
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 needed 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.
Our invitation to Year 10/11 students with an interest in STEM
The Bionics Institute invites schools to nominate Year 10/11 students, who have a strong interest in STEM subjects, to join the program each year. 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 Girls in STEM event.
How the Girls in STEM Mentoring Program works
- In Term 1, your school selects around four students to take part in the program and nominates a teacher to liaise with the Bionics Institute.
- The four 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 each participating 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 four or five times over six months for 15 minutes online.
- 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 five-minute PowerPoint presentation of their literature review at a Girls in STEM event 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.
What time commitment is involved?
- 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 online to discuss the summaries, give feedback and answer questions.
- Once the summaries have been written mentors will ask students to create a PowerPoint presentation based on their work and discuss real research papers.
- Students and their parents attend the final ceremony and give a five-minute presentation in pairs.
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Feedback from the 2021 Girls in STEM Mentoring Program
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 findings 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.
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